Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood’s optimism has peaked that a Red Deer’s $1.8 billion hospital expansion will finally happen.
“I felt more confident than I ever have that this important project is on its way. It’s been a long time coming,” said Wood, who was among several Red Deer County council members who attended the update by the Alberta Infrastructure Minister and Deputy Premier Nathan Neudorf in Red Deer on Jan. 26.
“I was impressed with the plans that showed how the hospital was going to be developed. I felt that a lot of thought had gone into this,” he added.
Construction for the 10-year project is not expected to start until about 2026 or 2027 with a target completion date of 2030-2031.
The next six years will be dedicated to functional programming and design, followed by four years of construction.
Wood was also pleased that the minister came in person to provide an update on a project that is so important to residents of the region, not just Red Deer. The hospital serves a population of about 400,000.
The mayor said he was able to speak with Neudorf and offered to provide a regional perspective on the expectations for the expansion.
Wood said he also made sure the minister was aware of the important role played by the smaller hospital in the region.
Coun. Lonny Kennett also attended the project update and believes that the long-needed expansion may finally be happening.
“I feel they really “get” that this region needs that expansion,” he said.
Not all have been happy with the 10-year time frame laid out by provincial officials.
Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston said he would have liked to have seen the expansion completed sooner. Although he was encouraged that both the UCP and NDP have firmly committed to the project, which should it remains on track whichever party is in power following the May provincial election.
The Society for Hospital Expansion in Central Alberta said it was disappointed construction is not slated to start for three or four more years. The group which has been lobbying the province for years to make the hospital a priority hoped to see a more detailed timeline.