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Alberta NDP pledges to 'urgently' build new hospital in south Edmonton

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Edmonton desperately needs more health-care beds, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Wednesday while promising to spend at least $1.8 billion to build a new hospital in south Edmonton if she becomes premier again.

In 2017, Notley's NDP government announced that the facility would be located on a 320-acre site near Ellerslie Road and 127 Street southwest and open in 2026.

The project was delayed and scaled back after the UCP won the 2019 election. Preliminary work started at the site in 2021 but there is still no cost or completion date listed on the province's website.

There was no sign that any construction work had been done or was being done at the snow-covered site on Wednesday.

"I think the problem we have here is that the UCP has basically decided to cancel it but they haven't had the courage to tell the people of Edmonton and northern Alberta that that is the decision they have made," Notley told reporters.

"So the way we get things moving faster is you say, 'We will build it.' And then you keep your promise and you build it."

Notley said her party would like to stick to the original budget of $1.8 billion, but acknowledged a rise in construction costs may drive the price up.

The NDP has also committed to a major expansion at the Red Deer Hospital.

When asked how taxpayers can afford to foot the bill for both projects, Notley said Alberta "can't afford to ignore infrastructure needs."

"South Edmonton has seen some of the fastest population growth in the country," she said.

"According to some reports, the Edmonton zone right now is short over 400 beds and is projected to be short almost 1,500 beds by 2027, yet the UCP has no plans to address it."

Notley said she would also "aggressively recruit" staff to work in the new facility.

The site of a "proposed" community hospital and health campus located near Ellerslie Road and 127 Street SW in Edmonton on February 8, 2023. The UCP government said "site preparation work" began in 2021. (John Hanson/CTV News Edmonton)

Ward pihêsiwin Coun. Tim Cartmell said he hasn't received an update on the project in a year or two but believes a new facility will be good for patients and provide an "employment node" in the area.

"The city as a whole needs more hospital spaces and more care spaces," he said.

"Last I've heard is that the project is still supported by the government and I guess we'll find out when the budget is dropped later this month."

A UCP press secretary said details like when the hospital will open, what the total budget will be and how many beds it will house are still being finalized.

A different official said work on the project, like hiring a contractor, pipeline surveys and utility installation is ongoing. Alberta had spent $52 million on the project as of Dec. 31.

"The previous [NDP] government irresponsibly put this project in its capital plan before the business case for the project was complete," infrastructure press secretary Benji Smith wrote in a statement to CTV News Edmonton.

"This is like building a house without financing or blueprints in place."

A provincial election is scheduled for May 29.

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