Frequently Asked Questions

About the North Island Hospitals Project

Updated August 2016

Also see: Campbell River Frequently Asked Questions and Comox Valley Frequently Asked Questions


What is the North Island Hospitals Project?

The North Island Hospitals Project (NIHP) involves construction of two new hospitals on northern Vancouver Island. A new $331.7 million, 39,826-square-metre, 153-bed hospital is being built in the Comox Valley and a new $274.5 million, 32,316-square-metre, 95-bed hospital is being built in Campbell River.

What is the overall budget for the NIHP?

The final approved budget for the project is $606.2 million to design, build, partially finance and maintain the two new hospitals.

How will the North Island Hospitals Project impact the local economy?

Construction of the new hospitals will create an estimated 2,200 direct jobs and more than 1,400 indirect jobs over the life of the project.

Where will the hospitals be built?

The new Campbell River Hospital is being built at the site of the current hospital, located on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Birch Street. The new Comox Valley Hospital is located near the intersection of Lerwick and Ryan roads in Courtenay, next to North Island College.

Who is building the new hospitals and what is the timeline?

Tandem Health Partners was selected to design, build, partially finance and maintain the new hospitals following a competitive bid process. In late June, 2014, Island Health and Tandem Health Partners reached a final fixed project cost agreement that demonstrates value for taxpayers’ dollars and achieves the project goals to develop facilities that:

  • are patient centred, for Islanders, First Nations and the elderly
  • will attract and retain health care professionals
  • will be high-performing, sustainable and energy-efficient.

It is anticipated that the hospitals will be completed and ready for move in by the fall of 2017.

Will local companies and individuals be involved in building the new hospitals in Courtenay and Campbell River?

Local companies and workers are very much involved in building the new hospitals. The North Island Hospitals Project and Tandem Health Partners are working with the Provincial Government, School Districts, North Island College, the North Vancouver Island Aboriginal Training Society, employment foundations, trade associations and others to develop apprenticeship and other training programs and employment opportunities. We are encouraging local hire and local business participation. We are working in partnership with the Campbell River and Comox Valley Chambers of Commerce and the Vancouver Island Construction Association to plan employment opportunities fairs to connect local businesses and individuals with Tandem Health Partners.

What is the North Island Hospitals Project Board?

The Project Board is a provincial government body consisting of membership from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Island Health, Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District and Partnerships BC. The role of the Board is to oversee the development of the business plan as well as the procurement, design and construction of the North Island Hospitals Project.

What does the business plan include?

The business plan primarily involved the development of an indicative (conceptual) design for both hospitals that included enough detail to accurately describe the services to be delivered and to determine the required capital investment. It also recommended that this project should be procured as a public-private partnership (PPP). The business plan will serve as the foundation for the procurement processes.

What is an indicative design?

An indicative (conceptual) design outlines the potential layout of a building, including all the rooms and requirements identified in the business plan. For example, the indicative designs for the new hospitals include drawings that show the potential look of the hospital from the outside (artist rendering), as well as the general layout of patient rooms, laboratories, hospital registration and more. An indicative design serves several purposes:

  • Allowing users to visualize what a design could look like;
  • Providing a basis for estimating costs; and
  • Serving as a starting point for proponents who will bid on the project to develop their own, detailed competing designs.

At what stage is development of the business plan and who has been involved?

The business plan was completed in December 2011. Consultations with physicians and staff began in October 2010 when work on the business plan got underway. These consultations will continue throughout the final design and construction stages of the North Island Hospitals Project.
Consultations were initiated with First Nations and Aboriginal Groups in May 2011. Follow-up information sharing is taking place with Aboriginal representatives to discuss design principles and to seek further input on operational principles and amenities that are relevant for Aboriginal people during the design stages of the project. Engagement sessions with community organizations will take place during the procurement and implementation phases of the project

Can members of the public view the business plan?

Business plans for major capital projects are not released publicly as they are part of the decision documents prepared for Provincial Cabinet deliberations. Similar to other major projects, a Project Report: Achieving Value for Money will be produced by Partnerships BC and is expected to be released in 2015. The Project Report: Achieving Value for Money will include information on project objectives, the scope of the project, project benefits and risks associated with the project.

Partnerships BC website provides comprehensive reports on all major infrastructure projects in the Province of B.C.:

Why is Partnerships BC involved in the process?

Partnerships BC was established by the Province of British Columbia to assist, support and help manage the procurement of large public infrastructure projects throughout the province. Partnerships BC has extensive experience with projects like the NIHP.

Did the business plan recommend a public-private partnership (PPP)?

Yes. The Provincial government requires that any project with more than $50 million in provincial funding be considered as a public-private partnership to assist in achieving best value for tax dollars. Following consideration by Treasury Board, it was determined the North Island Hospitals Project would be built as a PPP, with the successful proponent responsible for designing, building, financing and maintaining the sites for the length of the 30-year contract.

What is a PPP?

A PPP is a long-term, performance-based contract where government has control and ownership of the infrastructure (in this case, two hospitals) while transferring parts of the risk associated with designing, building, financing, and maintaining major projects to the private sector. The benefits of PPPs include value for money, increased innovation, cost certainty, and better-managed life cycle costs.


What services will be provided at each hospital?

The services currently available at Campbell River and St. Joseph’s will continue to be provided in the region with some potential modifications arising from technological advances, efficiencies in service delivery and innovation in healthcare delivery. Innovation and advances in technology, including medical innovation allow us to deliver better services with less space and make better use of existing space. Space utilization is a high priority for this project and Island Health is working closely with the partners on the project to ensure space is used in the most efficient and effective way. These facilities will provide opportunities to introduce new specialized services to North Vancouver Island, for example, fixed MRI facilities. They will also improve Island Health’s ability to recruit and retain physicians and other healthcare professionals.

What about Mental Health and Substance Use Services?

The original long-term plan was to shift the majority of the adult mental health and substance use services (MHSU) inpatient beds from the Comox Valley to the new Campbell River Hospital. Following consultation with physicians at both Campbell River and St. Joseph’s hospitals, it was determined it would not be practical to move these beds. Representatives from Island Health, St. Joseph’s General Hospital and the Chief of Staff for Campbell River Hospital met with the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital Board Directors at a public meeting held in November 2012 to discuss the MHSU beds. The CSRHD board voted in favour of keeping the MHSU inpatient beds at the new Comox Valley Hospital. Following the CSRHD Board approval, the Island Health Board of Directors also approved this recommendation.

Will there be inpatient beds for youth in need of Mental Health and Substance Use Services?

There will not be designated inpatient MHSU adolescent beds in the new hospitals because the demand for these types of beds in North Island is quite low. However, we recognize that there is a need for child and youth mental health services in the North Island, and we want to make the most effective use of our resources.

Although the demand for inpatient psychiatric beds for youth is quite small, we have made special design accommodations in the hospital plans so that two beds in the psychiatric unit can be separated from the adult patients to ensure appropriate care for adolescents. The special design includes flexible space for separate dining and rooms large enough to accommodate a sleeping area for parents when appropriate and desirable. As well, the pediatric inpatient beds in Campbell River (three beds) and Comox (six beds) will also be available to provide care to children with mental health conditions.

What about laboratory services – will they be available at both new hospitals?

Both new hospitals will include fully functioning labs.

How were bed numbers determined?

The bed numbers for North Island Hospitals are based on future population projections, health needs of the population and anticipated changes in how we deliver services.

Will there be trauma services?

There will be trauma bays in the Emergency departments at each hospital site. Higher level trauma services in the Emergency department will be designed to address the type and level of patient care required. For example, there may be specific bays for casting, eye care, and other levels of emergency care that will be closely linked with medical imaging (x-rays) and other emergency related services.

What about the minimum of 40 new community care beds that were promised by Island Health?

Island Health announced Dec. 17, 2014 that Park Place Seniors Living Inc. is the preferred proponent following a Request for Proposal process seeking an owner/operator for 40 new community care beds in Campbell River. This brings Island Health one step closer to fulfilling our commitment to open 40 additional community care beds prior to the opening of the new Campbell River Hospital in late 2017.

Park Place Seniors was selected as the preferred proponent following a detailed evaluation process. Island Health and Park Place Seniors will work toward finalizing a project development agreement in early 2015. Park Place currently operates New Horizons Care in Campbell River, and will build an addition on its current facility to house these 40 new beds, 20 of which will deliver licensed dementia care. Construction is expected to take 21 months, with the new wing to open in 2017.

For more information, view the news release:

How much parking will the new hospitals have?

  • When completed, the new Comox Valley Hospital will include more than 700 stalls in parkade and surface parking on site, including at least 24 handicapped/disabled parking stalls, 10 main door drop-off spaces, two HandyDART parking spaces and 80 bicycle spaces.
  • When completed, the new Campbell River Hospital will include more than 430 stalls in parkade and surface parking on site, including at least 13 handicapped/disabled parking stalls, two HandyDART parking stalls and 80 bicycle spaces.

Will there be pay parking at the new hospitals?

Like other health authorities in the province, Island Health intends to charge for parking at all new facilities with substantial parking infrastructure, including the new Campbell River and Comox Valley hospitals when they open in late 2017.

Parking fees have not yet been determined by Island Health Parking Services.

Pay parking will not apply to: hospital volunteers, hospital auxiliary members, spiritual/pastoral care providers, and renal patients.

Hardship provisions are in place to either waive or reduce parking fees where they pose a genuine financial challenge to patients and families. A unit social worker will work with the patient and family if they are in financial distress to recommend a Financial Hardship permit or an alternative transportation option.

Pay parking will apply to: all hospital staff, physicians, patients, visitors, students, contractors and service providers.

For more information, visit our NIHP website:


What kind of management/administration will there be?

The model will be one hospital with two sites. There will be on-site management at each site.


Will I be working at both sites?

While the majority of staff will work at one of the two sites, there may be some staff that choose to work at both sites and some programs may have staff who work out of both sites.

How do we ensure that acute care needs continue to be addressed, developed and supported while the new hospitals are being built?

It will be business as usual at the current Campbell River and St. Joseph’s hospital sites. Plans and requests for service enhancements and space allocations will continue to be considered as is currently done now, throughout the new hospitals construction period. As well, regular maintenance and repairs will continue.

How do we support physicians and staff in planning and transition to the new hospital while assuring adequate resources to provide quality care at St. Joseph’s and Campbell River Hospital?

There are funds in the project budget to ensure that staff can be backfilled to work on the development of the new facilities, without impacting staffing and patient care.

How will physicians and staff be involved in the design of the new facilities? How much has already been decided?

To date, over 20 user groups (300 people) made up of clinical and non-clinical staff have been extensively involved in the creation of RFP documents that were given to the three proponents to guide the development of their proposals. Clinical and non-clinical staff continue to be consulted during the RFP process as proponents develop their proposals. In addition, there will be numerous opportunities for clinical and non-clinical staff to provide input during the design and construction phase with regard to clinical flow, room and department design, clinical equipment purchases and overall functionality of both facilities, as well as their importance in relation to the North Island healthcare service delivery model.

Site Preparation

Who did the site preparation work at each site?

The companies preparing the hospital sites were different than the companies that will be designing and building the hospitals. Island Health was responsible for managing site preparation and has secured the work through a separate traditional procurement process.

Comox Valley Site Preparation

The Comox Valley Hospital site preparation contract was awarded to Courtenay-based Leighton Contracting Ltd. Site work began in February 2013 and was completed by the end of the year. Site preparation work included tree removal, the creation of a landscaped buffer zone along the hospital and North Island College boundary, and installation of a fence/walkway along the hospital/school boundary.

Campbell River Site Preparation

The Campbell River Hospital site preparation contract was awarded to Nanaimo-based Palladian Developments Ltd. Site preparation work began in March 2013 and was completed by the end of the year. Campbell River site preparation work included construction of two temporary parking lots, a temporary ambulance entrance, installation of two modular trailers, construction fencing, deconstruction of the Community Care Building and partial deconstruction of the Sunshine Wellness Centre.


For more information contact:

Dan MacLennan
Communications & Community Relations Officer
North Island Hospitals Project
Phone: 250-850-2943