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Phase 2 of Royal Columbian Hospital redevelopment underway in New Westminster

Editor's note: This is a corrected version of a story posted on March 8.
RCH rendering - Fraser Health
Construction of Phase 2 of the Royal Columbian Hospital redevelopment project is underway in New Westminster.

A larger emergency ward and more intensive care and surgical beds are among the features in the next phase of construction at Royal Columbian Hospital.

Along with demolition of some old buildings, including the recently demolished Sherbrooke tower, Phase 2 of the Royal Columbian Hospital redevelopment includes construction of a new acute care tower with more beds for intensive care, cardiac intensive care medicine and surgical patients. It also includes a new, larger emergency with a satellite medical imaging unit; more maternity beds and a maternity operating room; and a “super floor” in the existing health-care centre that includes three more operating rooms, three more intervention suites for cardiology, two more intervention suites for diagnostic radiology and one more MRI.

The project also includes the replacement of the old power plant, a new main entrance, a new rooftop helipad and an underground parkade with more than 350 stalls.

"This project will increase the hospital's capacity by approximately 50%, help ease congestion, introduce advanced medical technologies and enhance the working environment for health-care workers," B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a press release. "The work being done will make sure people continue to get the public health care they need for current and future generations at B.C.'s oldest hospital."

The estimated $1.49-billion, three-phase redevelopment is funded by the provincial government, Fraser Health and the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation.

"Royal Columbian Hospital is an integral part of our regional hospital network with a long history of providing excellent, compassionate care,” Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee said in the news release. “The new acute care tower will build on the strengths of the past and include state-of-the-art technology that will help to ensure lifesaving services are available now and in the future."

Phase 1 of the Royal Columbian Hospital redevelopment project features the new 75-bed mental health and substance use wellness centre, which replaced the aging 30-bed Sherbrooke Centre. The wellness centre opened last summer.

Phase 3 of the project will upgrade and expand areas in the existing health-care centre and Columbia tower. That work is projected to start in 2023 and be completed in 2026.

By the time the redevelopment project is complete, the hospital will have added about 50% more beds, an increase from 446 to 675, said Fraser Health.

As construction of the new acute care tower at Royal Columbian Hospital gets underway, EllisDon Design Build had sought an exemption to the city's construction noise bylaw. The application requested that construction crews be permitted to start work at 7 a.m. on Saturdays (instead of the 9 a.m. start that's allowed) for a four-year period from March 6, 2021 to Dec. 21, 2024 (excluding the period between Dec. 24 and Jan. 1 of each year). 

A March 1 staff report states the Saturday morning exemption is being requested in order to facilitate the redevelopment of RCH in a timely fashion for the benefit of the community. Council, however, pulled the item from its March 1 meeting and did not consider the exemption to the city’s construction noise bylaw.

(An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the amendment to the construction noise bylaw had been approved by council.)

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus