With a new building and parkade now slated to be built along Columbia Street in front of Royal Inland Hospital, the City will start moving ahead with widening the road.
Mayor Peter Milobar said the City had put the Columbia Street widening on hold while it waited for the RIH master site plan to get approvals.
Premier Christy Clark announced $80 million last week for a parkade, clinical space and improved access to the hospital.
Indirectly, that also gave the green light for the City to start working on Columbia Street, too.
“We had already made a decision to hold off doing the work on Columbia Street until we saw the direction on the master site plan. Now that we know that direction, we will be working with IHA through the planning stage so it can time out together,” said Mayor Peter Milobar.
“We decided to muddle through for another year or two until the master site plan got started. We have to look at access points to the area. Now we can do it all as one cohesive package and have one construction site.”
The street widening calls for left-turn lanes in both directions where Columbia intersects with Fourth, Fifth and Sixth avenues.
It was due to begin this year, but there seemed to be little point in ripping up the road only to have more work down in a few years when the front of Royal Inland Hospital’s property would be reconstructed.
Milobar said the premier promised the $80 million was in the budget. The entire RIH plan is estimated at around $400 million.
“My understanding is the money for the first phase is there,” he said.
That will cover the development that’s closest to Columbia Street.
“We’ll move ahead regardless of who’s in government. The bigger question mark is moving ahead with the remaining $320 million.”
Milobar noted that the leaders of the B.C. Liberals and B.C. NDP are aware of the needs at Royal Inland. So regardless of who is elected to power in next spring’s provincial election, he would expect it to be a budgetary consideration.
“Unless you’re a government that doesn’t plan to spend on health care at all, there should still be dollars there,” he said.
“It’s timing and how it fits into capital plans. My intention would be to keep pushing and lobbying to see the full project done.”