Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement - Fort St. James, BC

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Project Overview

Discussions regarding the replacement of the Stuart Lake 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.

The business plan, finalizing details such as scope and budget, was approved in January 2020. In April, 2020, the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process for the Design Early Works Agreement was initiated, and closed in June 2020. In May 2021, Graham Design Builders LP was selected as the successful proponent of the project with their proposal for design, build, finance and maintenance of the new hospital.

Presently, the project is well into the procurement phase with plans to begin construction this building season of 2022. Northern Health is working with the contractor to ensure that the Stuart Lake Hospital meets the community and health service needs while keeping within the Design Build Agreement.

Engagement is a major part of Northern Health Capital Projects, and there will be many opportunities for input from the community as this project progresses. Once construction has started for the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement, this milestone will be celebrated by us on-site, online, and in the media. We hope you will join us!

Project Overview

Discussions regarding the replacement of the Stuart Lake 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.

The business plan, finalizing details such as scope and budget, was approved in January 2020. In April, 2020, the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process for the Design Early Works Agreement was initiated, and closed in June 2020. In May 2021, Graham Design Builders LP was selected as the successful proponent of the project with their proposal for design, build, finance and maintenance of the new hospital.

Presently, the project is well into the procurement phase with plans to begin construction this building season of 2022. Northern Health is working with the contractor to ensure that the Stuart Lake Hospital meets the community and health service needs while keeping within the Design Build Agreement.

Engagement is a major part of Northern Health Capital Projects, and there will be many opportunities for input from the community as this project progresses. Once construction has started for the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement, this milestone will be celebrated by us on-site, online, and in the media. We hope you will join us!

  • Relationships and Reconciliation

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    On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as it is every day, it’s important for us at Northern Health to reflect on our values of empathy, respect, collaboration and innovation in the context of cultural safety, and to check in with ourselves that we’re truly acting on reconciliation.

    For NH Capital Projects, including the Stuart Lake Hospital (SLH) replacement project, this means developing a Capital Advisory Committee (CAC) early in the project that includes representatives from local First Nations. Members of all five First Nations local to Fort St. James have influenced the project from the beginning.


    To support the work of the CAC, special working groups are struck as the project progresses. Like the Mills Memorial Hospital (MMH) project’s Indigenous Advisory Working Group, the SLH project is supported by a Cultural Safety Advisory Working Group (CSWG), which ensures awareness and understanding of cultural safety for Indigenous people in a healthcare setting, and addresses design and cultural practices that should be taken into account in a new hospital build.


    The CSWG has allowed for conversations that are far-reaching, enlightening, and meaningful for those involved. They have been particularly educational for the SLH project team. Stories shared with us by Indigenous partners in Takla, Yekooche, Tl’azt’en, Binche and Nak’azdli have broadened our understanding of issues facing Indigenous people seeking health care in Northern BC. The stories and ideas shared with us remain the property of the people who share them, but their influence on the new hospital in Fort St. James is clear; conversations around cultural safety, cultural practices, and ceremony have resulted in a larger Palliative Care Room with access to the outdoors, and the provision for smudging in both the Palliative Care Room and the Spiritual Space.

    Committees and working groups are some of the tools we use to connect with the communities we serve, however, developing real relationships is the only way to make sure health care needs are safely and appropriately met. Often, reconciliation stops after acknowledgement, and while acknowledgment is essential for moving forward, action is vital to the process of building relationships. For this project, we have partnered with Nak’azdli Band Members for a ground blessing ceremony prior to construction starting at the site, and we have been privileged to attend community events such as National Indigenous Peoples Day at Kwah Hall in Nak’azdli, and to take part in health fairs in Yekooche and Takla. These are opportunities to meet with the communities and hear concerns, ideas and personal experiences of health care face to face. We are grateful for these opportunities and don’t take our inclusion lightly.


    Northern Health is committed to listening and asking questions. Conversations are on-going in the community and at the Cultural Safety Working Group Table. Health care is a partnership, and your feedback is always welcome. Stay in touch with us here and in person. We look forward to sharing progress on this and other Capital Projects on our Let’s Talk pages, in the media, and maybe over a cup of tea.


    Note: The graphic was specially designed by Gitxsan artist Cori Johnson for Northern Health to recognize National Truth and Reconciliation/Orange shirt day. Read more about the graphic and the artist here: https://stories.northernhealth.ca/stories/ndtr-ms-teams-background-staff



  • Yekooche Health Fair

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    The 20th of September was a great day for a drive up to Yekooche! Thanks to an early start and no hauling that day, I startled many grouse off the road and wasn't startled myself by any big trucks. I was early for the health fair, set up quickly, and helped others bring in their door prizes. I also sneaked out for a photo or two of the beautiful school and the bright fall morning.



    It was a pleasure to talk to so many people about the new hospital in Fort St. James! Everyone was happy to hear that construction is well underway, but we were even happier to get more input from the community on what will make a safe and welcoming hospital for all. Over the course of the project, in meetings with the Cultural Safety Working Group which includes members from Yekooche, Takla, Tl'azt'en, Binche and Nak'azdli as well as Indigenous Health, and while connecting with people in community we have heard and incorporated many ideas that will make the new Stuart Lake Hospital a comfortable and comforting place for patients and people visiting the hospital.

    It was fantastic to reconnect with community members who have contributed already, and to make new connections and hear new ideas. We're so grateful for the input and the result of all these conversations will be a hospital that is a reflection of all the communities it serves.



    A huge thank you to Yekooche and to Krista Janssen for having us at the health fair, and an even bigger thank you to all the community members who took time to chat with me and give us their feedback. Please remember that feedback is always welcome! You can contact us here at LetsTalkSLH@northernhealth.ca or you can find us in the community. Takla health fair is next!

    Thanks for a great day, Yekooche!


  • Mid-season progress

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    While we're out enjoying the summer, the construction season at Stuart Lake Hospital is well underway. Unless we stop and look, we might miss appreciating the progress as it takes place.

    Congratulations to the Graham construction crew for a great start on earthworks and construction of the new Stuart Lake Hospital!

    Enjoy these snapshots of the same view in May and in July of 2022.


    View of Stuart Lake Hospital looking west in May 2022


    View of Stuart Lake Hospital looking west in July 2022


    Stay in touch! Keep up with the progress of the new hospital here on Let's Talk or contact us with comments and questions at LetsTalkSLH@northernhealth.ca.

  • Where we're at Summer 2022

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    Summer 2022 is full steam ahead for the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement Project. Construction is advancing on schedule which means earthworks are underway. The site is busy with retaining wall work and excavation of the building footprint.


    We are happy to say the design of the new hospital is also on schedule and on-going. We look forward to more opportunities to connect with the public and with our project partners at events and in the community in the near future.

    To ask questions or for more information, please contact us here, at LetsTalkSLH@northernhealth.ca. And stay tuned! We'll have more to report as the summer progresses.

  • A Blessing for the Land

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    On Friday, May 27, 2022, in pouring rain, a small ceremony was held on the grounds of the Stuart Lake Hospital. Led by Jolene Prince of Nak’azdli, the ceremony blessed the ground, the current and future hospital buildings, the health of those who contribute to health care in the community and those who seek healing at the Stuart Lake Hospital.

    A small group representing partner Indigenous Nations, Northern Health staff and leaders, physicians, and groups who contributed to the planning and building of the new hospital assembled for the blessing. Prayers and hopes for the new hospital, for its staff, physicians, and patients were spoken by all, and appreciation for the collaboration and hard work required to organize and build the hospital were expressed.

    This quiet occasion acknowledged the hard work of community and partners over many years to bring this project to the threshold of construction. Many more opportunities to connect and celebrate lie in the future.

    Keep track of updates to the hospital replacement project here, at Let’s Talk, and on Facebook. Reach out with questions to LetsTalkSLH@northernhealth.ca. Stay in touch and stay tuned for milestones to celebrate and opportunities to connect.

    Wilf Adam, Northern Health Board Member, joins Jolene Prince in prayers for a culturally safe and healthy hospitalElders from Nak'azdli, Tl'azt'en and Binche Nation came together with community members and NH staff for the ground blessing ceremonyBetsy Dennis of Binche


    Greg Marr, SOO Northern Interior Rural and Co-Chair of the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement Project, and Binche Health Director Carrie NashPrimary Care Society Chair Ann McCormick drumming

    Councillor Dr. Paul Stent has worked in health care in Fort St. James since 1988 Doreen Austin from Tl'azt'en honoured the ceremony with song

  • Quick Peeks and Previews

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    Construction of the Stuart Lake Replacement Hospital is just around the corner, and while design is not complete, we're excited to provide a quick peek at some of preview material from the design team!

    Keep in mind these images may change, but take a moment to enjoy a visual of the new front and side approaches to the hospital.


    Design has progressed since this older image, but it gives a good idea of the new hospital placement. You'll have to ignore the courtyards - they've been removed since this image was produced - but if you spend some time with this rendering you'll see how the new hospital is situated in the neighbourhood and will be able to imagine where the views from inside the building and from the patios and gardens will land.

    While construction starts and design progresses, we'll be looking for your input on different aspects of the new hospital. We'll create opportunities to connect here on Let's Talk and in person - at open houses and other events - as the weather and the pandemic allow.

    Keep in touch and stay up-to-date on the project! We're glad you're following along to watch the new Stuart Lake Hospital take shape.

  • Helipad Closed for Construction

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    On May 1, 2022, the Stuart Lake Hospital helipad will be closed while the new hospital is built. This is because construction can’t safely take place with the helipad in operation. So, the helipad at the hospital will be decommissioned for the duration, and the helipad at the airport will be used for helicopter landings and patient transport during this time. The airport is 7.8km, roughly 9 minutes, from the hospital.

    The hospital helipad will reopen once construction finishes. And even better, safety upgrades to the helipad will take place during construction. These upgrades will include fencing, signage, re-location of the wind-sock, painting, and new spotlights.

    If you're wondering whether involving ambulances in transporting folks to the helipad is an extra step, you'll be interested to know that whether the helipad is at the airport or on the hospital site, BC Ambulance Services are involved in transporting the patient to the aircraft.

    You might also be interested to know that the helipad at the airport is used three times more often to move patients to and from the Stuart Lake Hospital than the helipad at the hospital. BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) determines which of the two helipads to use depending on circumstances, availability of ambulance cars, and weather conditions. During the hospital construction and the hospital helipad closure, BCEHS staff won't find it procedurally unusual to use the airport helipad.

    We appreciate your patience and understanding as we take this necessary step to allow for the new, much needed, Stuart Lake Hospital to be built. If you have any questions, please reach out! You can contact us at LetsTalkSLH@northernhealth.ca.


  • Signed! And Getting Set to Start

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    We are excited to announce that the Design-Build Agreement has been signed with the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement Project’s preferred proponent, Graham Design Builders LP, which means that construction can begin!

    “People in Fort St. James and the surrounding communities will soon see shovels go in the ground for a state-of-the-art hospital, which is very exciting,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Local residents have been waiting for years to see their hospital replaced and our government took action to make it happen.” Read the full announcement here.

    The timeline hasn't changed, so construction is expected to begin at the end of May, 2022, and the new hospital should be ready for patients in 2025.

    We're going to keep you posted along the way! For Stuart Lake Hospital news, follow along here at Let’s Talk Stuart Lake Hospital. And send questions to LetsTalkSLH@northernhealth.ca. We'll be happy to answer them.

  • The Quiet Before the Storm

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    Stuart Lake Hospital from Mt. Dickson Trail

    Behind the scenes is a flurry of activity, but you'd never know it looking out at the quiet field behind the Stuart Lake Hospital. The trees are down, the view is wide, the ground is waiting for shovels, and the people of Nak'azdli, Fort St James, Binche, Tl'azt'en, Yekooche and Takla are ready for the new build to start.


    Ice pile in Stone's Bay

    In the meantime, we watch the ice pile up on shore, melt away and then freeze up again, ready for spring... and for the excitement of the Stuart Lake hospital construction to begin!


    Open water in April on Stuart Lake

    Watch this page for announcements. We'll keep you posted.

    (Thanks to Ann McCormick for the view of the hospital from the trail to Mt. Dickson).


  • A Quarterly Update

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    Project status update


    Where we’re at

    Since Northern Health first began discussing the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement project in 2008 we’ve come a long way. Provincial approval in 2018 led to the business plan approval in 2020, and in May 2021, Graham Design Builders LP was selected as the successful proponent of the project with their proposal for design, build, finance and maintenance. Now we find ourselves well into the procurement phase of the project.

    Procurement consists of two parts: a technical submission and a financial submission. The technical submission ensures that the design meets community and health service needs, and the financial submission addresses the costs of the project. An evaluation committee then receives the submissions and reviews them. Throughout this process, the proponent’s design development continues.

    Meanwhile, Northern Health is actively working with the contractor to ensure that the Stuart Lake Hospital will meet the community and health service needs while keeping within the Design Build Agreement. We’re also actively engaging with the community.

    Project Schedule

    Like all project schedules, timelines can be impacted any number of factors and thus are subject to change.

    Flagging and falling of trees to clear the site began in early February 2022 and construction is currently on track to begin summer of 2022. Construction will take place between 2022 and 2024, with transfer of staff and patients the goal for 2025.


    Next steps and upcoming milestones


    Engagement next steps

    Right now the Communications Team is establishing an Indigenous Advisory Working Group (IAWG) and a Community Advisory Working Group (CAWG). The work of the IAWG and the CAWG informs the project to help ensure a facility that reflects and supports the communities in the Fort St James area and the Northern Health Services Plan. Aspects of the project that may be influenced by these groups include patient experience, culturally appropriate design, artwork and signage, and local considerations of interest that arise as we meet.

    There is a lot going on behind the scenes in a hospital replacement project, but a simplified version of the reporting goes like this: input from the CAWG and IAWG goes to the Capital Advisory Committee and then to the SLHR Project Steering Committee who, in collaboration with the Project Board, balances the complexities of a capital building project with the needs and wants of the local communities.

    Engagement is a major part of Northern Health Capital Projects, and there will be many opportunities for input from the community as this project progresses.

    Once construction has started for the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement, this milestone will be celebrated by us on-site, online, and in the media. We hope you will join us!


    Stuart Lake Hospital construction camera

    Interested in what goes into a major hospital replacement? We will be installing a construction camera that you can access to see what’s going on at the site and watch it all come together. Although work has yet to begin, the construction camera will be a way to keep up to date with the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement.

    For a peek at other Capital Projects in progress in Northern BC, take a look at the GR Baker Construction Camera recording the hospital expansion in Quesnel, or at the Mills Memorial Construction Camera recording the replacement of the Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace.


    For more information


    Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement Project Let’s Talk

    Let’s Talk is our one-stop shop for everything related to the Stuart Lake Hospital project. Not only does this site have regular project updates, but it is also a place where you can provide feedback and thoughts on the project.

    Stuart Lake Hospital Let’s Talk

    Contact us directly

    For questions, feedback, or to get added to the distribution list for these updates, feel free to reach out directly to us through Jill Wigmore, our Community Liaison Officer for the Stuart Lake Hospital Replacement Project at LetsTalkSLH@northernhealth.ca

Page last updated: 28 Sep 2022, 01:07 PM