A concept plan for replacing the Stuart Lake Hospital in Fort St. James has been given the green light, the provincial government said Tuesday.
The next step is development of a business plan - a process that will take 12 to 18 months. Once approved, the project will be advanced to procurement and then construction.
"It's a go! This new hospital has been needed for a long time, and is why Premier John Horgan and I made it a key priority in our efforts to improve health care throughout northern B.C.," Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement.
"The new hospital will bring better acute, primary and community care for people living in Fort St. James, local First Nations and the surrounding area. For a growing senior population in the region and for the economy as a whole, it is an essential public service."
A media event was held Tuesday in the community of 1,173 people 152 kilometres northwest of Prince George to announce the development. A cost estimate will be determined during the business plan stage.
The hospital opened in 1972 and is outdated in terms of space, functionality and technology. Currently, the hospital has 12 beds and offers emergency, acute and complex care care, as well as residential care, lab and X-ray services, and mental health and addictions counselling.
Discussions regarding the replacement of the hospital have been ongoing since 2008. In September 2015, Northern Health submitted a concept plan to the Ministry of Health.
Northern Health submitted a revised concept plan to government in summer 2018, which was approved in October 2018.