An ariel view of the Swift Current Long Term Care site proposed by Plenary Group.
Plenary Group beat out two other bids to secure the contract to construct a new 225 bed long-term care facility in Swift Current.
Details of the private partnership will be worked out in the coming weeks to determine the contract’s financial details and the final value for money analysis. Construction is expected to begin late this summer or early fall, with an anticipated completion date of spring 2016.
Saskatchewan Premier and Swift Current MLA Brad Wall was pleased to see this latest step forward in the project.
"We're due in Swift Current and we're going to get this done - start building in the fall," Wall said during a phone interview shortly after the project was announced this afternoon. "It's something we've needed for a long time in Swift Current in terms of new and improved long term care, something I've been working on for a while and the Region's been working on it and all the stakeholders."
Wall points out the 225 bed facility boasts more bed space than the 198 beds currently in existence in the three outdated long term care facilities in Swift Current. He credited family members of residents and long term care residents themselves for their diligence in making the project a reality.
Wall admitted there are lots of eyes on this project as this is the first P3 utilized to procure a major long term care facility in Swift Current.
"We had enough bidders that this price is a little bit lower than we thought, we'll get the details out on that here soon. And there's some innovation. I think people will see in the design we've listened to the front line workers through the P3 process, and how it should be designed, and to residents as well."
"I'm excited. We're finally at a point where we can announce construction on a brand new, state-of-the-art facility."
He feels it is important for Saskatchewan to explore the P3 method for improving facilities across the province.
"It's more than just a long term care facility for Swift Current, as important as that is. It's demonstrating that P3s can work. They work best when you have multiple people bidding for them, and that's what we had in this case."
"We're going to follow it very carefully. This is a way for us to build facilities, long term facilities, even perhaps when the immediate cash demands are hard to meet because we can use partners to work with. Other provinces have done it and done it well. There's a track record to learn from, and mistakes early on in other provinces to learn from, but this one is off to a very good start."
Wall said the Swift Current project will be instructive for future public procurement of infrastructure projects, along with bundling and the P3 approach that will shortly be announced to get some schools built across the province in response to rising student populations.
He also highlighted the provincial government is watching this project closely in lieu of the recent VFA report which points to a large repair bill to improve healthcare facilities across Saskatchewan.
"This has been a long standing issue in the province in terms of the state of healthcare infrastructure. We need to take a long term view to fixing it. It is a priority for us. If we don't avail ourselves of all funding models - conventional, P3, bundling things when that's appropriate - if we don't avail ourselves of all of the options, we simply will not be able to offer a quality in healthcare infrastructure in the province that people deserve. That's where we disagree with our friends across the way. They want a conventional build only. I'm not sure how we would have gotten to this point in Swift Current if we would have had that approach."
Cypress Regional Health Authority Chairperson Tyler Bragg said the health region is excited to be moving the project forward in this non traditional method.
"It's probably the most significant step thus far," Bragg said of the selection of a proponent for the project.
He said the focus of the partnership over the upcoming weeks will be on the financial close of the project, completing contracts and finalizing the pledging of community contribution towards the project.
"There's been a lot of work done and this is a very big benchmark here. And going forward it's more or less the finishing touches, and the contracts in particular that have to be worked out over the next little while," Bragg said, quickly adding "I just want to make sure everybody understand that we still need to secure the $15.7 million. There's no doubt that we will. I'm very confident in our community that they'll be able to pull together to get that. But people do need to know that we do need to have that commitment here in very short order because it is part of the contract."
Bragg anticipates excitement around the project will quickly start to build now that the design plans have been unveiled.
"It's a very innovative design to sit on the space that we have. I think people are going to be very excited to see that out in the Northeast corner of the City."
And, looking at the concept plans which feature a visually unique design, Bragg feels this if fitting considering the intended different atmosphere of facility.
"The bricks and mortar is one thing, and it's going to be very nice. But the most important part here is that the building is designed in such a way that we can provide better care to our residents. That was one of the innovative things that the proponents were working around - they knew what we wanted to do and they had to make a building to fit that."
"Now that we have that, I suspect that the excitement will start."
The Plenary Group (Canada) Ltd. proposal includes partnerships with PCL Construction Management Inc., Johnson Controls Canada Limited Partnership, and Stantec Architecture Ltd.
“This is an important milestone for Saskatchewan as we move toward completion of the provincial government’s first public-private partnership procurement,” said SaskBuilds Minister Gordon Wyant. “In addition to savings for taxpayers, we are impressed by the additional design innovation and construction efficiencies gained exclusively through this competitive process.”