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Alberta government terminates contract with builder of Grande Prairie Regional Hospital

The Alberta government is looking for a new builder for the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital.

Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen says it has terminated the contract with the current builder, Calgary-based Graham Construction, which it has been at odds with over the timeline and costs of the $763-million project.

In July, Jansen directed Graham submit a revised plan to get back on track, but says the new blueprint wasn’t good enough.

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“We have a responsibility to the taxpayers of this province to get this project done on time and on budget,” Jansen told reporters Monday.

“We had asked (Graham) for a plan that gave us the confidence that the hospital was going to be completed on time and in the manner that we both agreed on, and we feel that didn’t happen.”

Jansen said they will invite a select group of contractors to submit bids in order to expedite the process and get a new builder in place by the end of October.

She said the province notified Graham on Monday and that work on the project has stopped.

The exterior of the hospital is done and the interior is about 75 per cent complete.

Jansen cited few details on the reasons for the termination and the invitation process for a new builder, citing privacy and legal issues.

She said next steps and revised timelines for the project will be done once the new builder is in place.

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Jansen has said issues with Graham came to a head in late July when it was clear the hospital would not be done by the end of the year as planned and Graham asked for an extra $120-million on top of its $510-million contract with no justifiable reason.

Graham officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

But Graham has said it warned the province that the hospital can’t be done under the current budget given the design changes.

The construction firm said that in less than two years the project experienced more than 600 change orders and more than 400 design clarifications. It said there were 63 design changes and 34 new scope clarifications in June 2018 alone.

In some cases, said Graham, the changes required previously completed work to be demolished.

As for the $120-million, Graham has said it had warned the project could be up to $85-million short and put in an estimate to complete the project that included a $35-million contingency fund.

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The opposition United Conservatives, in a statement, said it’s disappointing to see the much-needed project delayed.

“We hope to see construction resume as quickly as possible given its importance to the people of Grande Prairie, the larger Peace region, and the workers and subcontractors that were laid off today as a result of this contract termination.”

The hospital, when completed, will provide space for everything from acute care to cancer treatment, obstetrics, MRI services and surgery to patients in northwestern Alberta.

The contract with Graham began in 2011, under the former Progressive Conservative government, and has been delayed ever since due to construction deferrals, design changes and cost overrruns.

The initial cost of the project was $250-million.

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