Alberta’s premier says the government is taking its time planning the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre expansion project to ensure it will cost less money in the long run.
Danielle Smith was in Red Deer on Thursday for both the Central Alberta Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast and the grand opening ceremony of Youth HQ’s Centre for Social Impact.
After the opening ceremony for the building in downtown Red Deer, the Advocate asked Smith about what short-term solutions are available to support the Red Deer hospital.
“There are a couple of things we’re looking at right now, which is assessing if there are operating rooms in the region that can be open to take some of the pressure off of Red Deer regional,” Smith said.
“We’re taking just a bit of time on the design phase because one of the things I’ve observed is that if you take a little bit more time scoping out a project and getting the proper specifications, then there are fewer change orders and it costs less money.”
Smith said she understands there’s “a little frustration” due to the design phase taking some time.
“But we’ve had some projects that have gone over budget. We want to make sure that we’re building the best facility for the community,” she said.
“I think the good news is that you’ve got all political parties who have committed to making sure this project gets through to the finish line. It’s unfortunate that when the NDP was in government they took it off the priority list, which set back the planning. But we’re back on track now and we’re looking forward to making sure we have a good facility for Central Alberta.”
Smith also touched on the Red Deer Recovery Community, which has yet to begin welcoming residents despite construction finishing in January.
“Whenever you finish the construction of a project then you have to do the staffing, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got all of the beds and equipment, you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got the flow worked out for how to bring people into the facility,” Smith said.
This is the province’s first of nine recovery communities.
“We want to make sure we do this one right. My understanding is it’s going to be opened up in pretty short order here in the next few weeks,” said Smith.
“I think we’re pretty pleased that we at least got the construction complete so we could have it as a showcase. There have been lots of different groups that have come through and it’s resulted in us being able to site several more recovery communities. We’ll be making announcements about those very soon.”