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BC set to go with new P3 hospitals

Health authorities in British Columbia have selected consortiums to build two new hospitals using public-private partnerships (P3) one in Abbotsford and the other in Vancouver.

A new, $90 million ambulatory care centre at the Vancouver General Hospital site should be open to patients in 2006. It will be built as a "public-private-partnership (P3)" in conjunction with Access Health Vancouver, which has been selected as the 'preferred proponent'.

Access Health Vancouver is a group made up of: PCL Constructors Westcoast, Vancouver-based IBI Group/Henriquez Architects, ABN Amro Bank N.V., and Brookfield LePage Johnson Controls, which specializes in facilities

The facility will be known as The Academic Ambulatory Care Centre, and it will consolidate clinics, laboratories and specialists' offices currently scattered around the VGH site.

The price tag estimated for the new centre is $90 million. It's expected to house 500 staff and serve 600,000 patients a year.

Under the P3 plan, the private consortium will pay for the project's development and construction. It will also cover the costs of the centre's maintenance for its first 30 years.

The health authority would, in turn, lease space from the consortium to operate the centre. Other companies could also lease space in the facility, but the health authority would be its main tenant.

After 30 years, ownership of the facility would be transferred to the health authority.

"The value of this P3 is that taxpayers are not on the hook for upfront costs, ongoing maintenance and potential overruns," said Vancouver Coastal Health spokesman Clay Adams.

The contract to build B.C.'s second health-related P3, a new $300-million hospital in Abbotsford, was won by Access Health Abbotsford. It's made up of the same major partners Brookfield LePage Johnson Controls, PCL Construction, and ABN Amro Bank. Construction of the 300-bed Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre should begin soon after a final contract is settled this fall. The facility is expected to open in 2007.

It will be three times the size of the current hospital and include a new cancer treatment centre that will be part of the provincial network operated by the BC Cancer Agency.

Details with Access Health Abbotsford are being finalized by the Fraser Health Authority.