SPRINGDALE, NL - Baie Verte-Green Bay MHA Brian Warr says he is confident the people of Springdale and area will soon hear an announcement about re-starting construction of a new hospital.
Groundwork for Phase 1 of the project has already been completed in an area off Little Bay Road. An access road was created, and work done includes water and sewer infrastructure. Design work for the new acute and long-term healthcare complex was also ongoing in 2015, but the tender for construction was then delayed.
By the beginning of 2016, the tender had come in at $3 million over budget, and was to be reissued with refined tender requirements in hopes of reducing the cost.
In the provincial Budget 2016-2017, the new Green Bay Health Centre was deferred for two years.
In December 2016, a Department of Health and Community Services official confirmed there was no change in the province's position.
A year later, Warr says discussions have led him to believe news of the project is forthcoming.
Health and Community Services Minister John Haggie was in the district recently. Warr said they talked about the new hospital and visited the site, and toured the current hospital and other health care facilities in the town.
"I have been given every indication that we are on track for that announcement, and I hope to see it within the next few short months," said Warr.
This project is important to Warr as MHA, to the district from a health care perspective, and to the town in terms of its growth as a hub for the region, he said. While he said he was disappointed during 2016 Budget preparations to see the project would be deferred, he was assured then it would still happen.
Nothing since has led him to believe anything but that.
He said the new hospital would be a multi-year project, likely to be built between 2018-2020.
Late last month, Premier Dwight Ball was in central Newfoundland to announce two new long-term care centres - one in Grand Falls-Windsor and another in Gander. An extension to the Dr. Hugh Twomey health centre in Botwood was also announced.
The news created a bit of a stir in the Green Bay area, with people wondering when they would receive word about funding for the new hospital.
Warr said funding for long-term care facilities in central Newfoundland is also positive news for residents of the Baie Verte-Green Bay district. There is still no long-term care facility in Baie Verte following an April fire that destroyed Baie View Manor.
Springdale Mayor Dave Edison said prompt action is exactly what council is hoping for in terms of further investment and construction of the new hospital. A commitment on funding in the 2018-2019 Budget has been made, and the mayor is expecting that promise to be upheld.
"We intend to, after Christmas, make our thoughts known as to how important this is to not only Springdale but, the surrounding area," he said. "We will probably try to garner up some support from the other communities, looking for support from everybody to ensure government includes it in this year's budget."
Edison said discussions and information received have led council to believe it will eventually be announced.
"We have the oldest cottage hospital on the island apparently, so our time is up," he said.