BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson made a brief campaign stop at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace Oct. 14. From the left is BC Liberal Skeena candidate Ellis Ross, local supporter Briana Greer, Wilkinson and Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc. (Rod Link/Terrace Standard)

BC Liberal leader affirms commitment to a new Mills Memorial Hospital

Andrew Wilkinson makes brief campaign stop in Terrace

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has committed himself to carrying forward with a $447.5 million project to replace the aging and antiquated Mills Memorial Hospital here.

Speaking during a brief campaign stop in front of the hospital this morning, Wilkinson confirmed that if his BC Liberals form the next government, the ‘new’ Mills will be tops on the agenda for his new cabinet.

“You can be absolutely certain we will do it,” Wilkinson told a gathering of supporters, Terrace city council members and BC Liberal candidate Ellis Ross who is seeking re-election in the Skeena riding.

But, he continued, the timing of when the project will be presented to the Treasury Board, a committee of senior cabinet ministers who approve of major capital expenditures, will be affected by the election.

The current plan calls for the final construction contract proposal to be presented to the province for approval the week of November 30 and if the green light is given, signing of the contract with builder PCL Construction sometime in December.

That Nov. 30 period is just five weeks after the Oct. 24 election day and Wilkinson said several factors have to be taken into account.

“There are the postal ballots to be counted and that might not happen until Remembrance Day and then there’s 28 days to a new government,” he said in explaining that during an election and immediately afterward, there is no formal government in place.

“There might not be a Treasury Board until December or January,” he added.

Still, Wilkinson affirmed the Mills Memorial construction budget as set out by the New Democratic government in its last budget.

And he said it was the last BC Liberal government in early 2017, prior to its defeat in May of that year, who promised to replace Mills.

The new NDP government simply didn’t move fast enough on the replacement, Wilkinson added.

“Of the 13 years of the last 30 the NDP were in government, not a single new hospital was built,” he said.

Wilkinson has not been the only party leader to appear at Mills Memorial this election. NDP leader John Horgan was in Terrace Sept. 26 to also confirm a new hospital will be built.

Following his appearance in Terrace, one that included visits to several businesses, Wilkinson headed to Kitimat where he is due to make an announcement regarding an energy policy this afternoon.