Sod turning marks start of Leader Integrated Health Facility construction

The coldest day of last week had the warmest feeling in Leader, with a sod turning ceremony on December 16 offcially launching the start of construction for the Leader Integrated Health Facility plus a renovation project at the Western Senior Citizen’s Home.

Friday’s ground breaking ceremony signals the much anticipated start of the long planned project which has overcome a series of hurdles to become a reality.

First announced in September 2014, the integrated facility went through the design phase and a first call for construction tenders in September 2015. The capital construction project was then put on hold back in January 2016 when an announcement was made to cancel the call for tenders. That cancellation was necessary due to high construction costs above the project budget. Over the following months a revised design for the project was created, and tender documents were re-issued in July. Finally, on November 3, the construction tender was awarded to Wright Construction Western.

“It’s really an opportunity just to celebrate the beginning of construction,” Cypress Health Region CEO Beth Vachon said following the Regional Health Authority meeting on December 14.

“It feels wonderful to feel like there’s actually tangible things starting to happen. We’re pretty pleased.”

The new 16-bed integrated facility will replace three existing facilities, the Community Centre and Primary Health Clinic, the Leader Hospital, plus the Emergency Medical Services building.

The $12 million project, which contains acute care, community health services, primary health care and ambulance services, will be connected to the Western Senior Citizens Home.
The provincial government is contributing $9.6 million toward the $12 million project, which represents 80 per cent of total project costs. Local funding will cover the remaining 20 per cent or $2.4 million.
Vachon pointed out when the Cypress Health Region developed their inaugural capital plan in 2002, the Leader project was on that original list.
“2002 is when, as a new Region, we started to advocate for an integrated facility in Leader,”
she said.

“The community has been super patient. Supportive. They got their share of fundraising immediately,” added Cypress Regional Health Authority Board Chairperson Lyle Quintin.

Vachon is happy this integrated facility will address the final portion of the Health Region’s major infrastructure plans.

“With the beginning of this construction it really has answered all of our major infrastructure needs. We had of course identified the Regional Hospital requirement/replacement. We did the work out in  Herbert to move out of the old hospital and integrate that facility. We’ve done Maple Creek. We’ve got Leader on the go, and The Meadows now. So those are all of the things that in 2002 that we had listed, and over the last 15 years we have been able to accomplish all of them. It’s pretty exciting.”

Health Region officials had their first construction meeting with their construction partner, and crews are expected to be on site starting in early January.