Six years after shovels first turned sod at the site of a future hospital in Sherwood Park, Alberta’s Health Minister gave an approximate time the long-awaited facility could open.

Health Minister Fred Horne said Thursday that the Alberta Health Services facility would open in the spring of 2014.

It’s a project residents of Sherwood Park have been waiting years for.

“We’ve been very patient,” Strathcona County Mayor Roxanne Carr said. “Some residents will tell you at the door they’ve waited 30 years for a hospital.”

Construction started on the facility in 2007, with a project completion in 2009 – but then the economy ground to a halt and the project was put in limbo.

The next year, work started up on the project again.

At first, the facility was supposed to be a 72 bed community hospital, but in recent years that had changed – it will now become an urgent care centre.

Current construction was at first planned to be phase 1 of a multi-phase, fully functioning hospital complete with an emergency room, surgical suites, and other services.

The additional phases were cut from the province’s three-year capital plan when Budget 2013 was introduced.

Carr told CTV News she toured the building under construction in October, when the construction manager gave her an approximate timeline.

“The keys to that hospital will be handed from private construction over to government in January sometime,” Carr said.

That timeline was confirmed by a spokesperson with Alberta Infrastructure – the keys will be handed over in January of February.

Horne said final preparations should be completed and the doors opened in the following few months.

“The building should be fully fitted-out by April, and open to the public,” Horne said.

As for staffing the facility, Horne stopped short of confirming AHS was hiring, saying plans were being made for staffing the facility.

With files from Susan Amerongen