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Construction starts on continuing care facility announced in 2017

In 2017, the NDP announced a new continuing care facility in Calgary. Last month, construction finally started. It was supposed to be built by now.

Last month, the Alberta government announced that construction had begun on a $130.5 million continuing care centre in Calgary.

According to the announcement, the construction of the Bridgeland Riverside Continuing Care Centre will employ 520 construction and construction-related workers over the next 2.5 years or so.

What the announcement forgot to mention was that the 198-unit facility was actually announced by the NDP in March 2017. In fact, the 2017 budget outlined how much money would be allocated to the project per year:

2017–2018$2 million
2018–2019$42 million
2019–2020$67 million
2020–2021$20 million
Total$131 million

Those numbers were adjusted in the 2018–2019 budget—the NDP’s last budget—extending the completion date by two years, just in time for the 2023 election:

2018–2019$10 million
2019–2020$43 million
2020–2021$40 million
2021–2022$33 million
2022–2023$5 million
Total$130 million

In the UCP’s first budget, the numbers were updated as follows:

2019–2020$3 million
2020–2021$21 million
2021–2022$30 million
2022–2023$51 million
Total$104 million

Again in the 2020–2021 budget:

2020–2021$19 million
2021–2022$40 million
2022–2023$44 million
Total$103 million

And finally in the latest budget announced at the end of last month, with a completion date extension of yet one more year:

2021–2022$41 million
2022–2023$43 million
2023–2024$31 million
Total$115 million

So, a project that was originally to be completed by the end of this month—at the latest—has had two extensions that collectively pushed back the completion date by 3 years, nearly doubling the original project timeline.

And it’s not even clear whether the government will end up paying the $130.5 million for the project that had been announced in 2017.

For example, look at the first two projections: $131 million and $130 million. The first project proposed $2 million being spent in the first year of the project. Did they spend that much that year? If so, shouldn’t the project cost be $129 million in the following budget?

Or the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 budgets: one is $104 million and the other is $103 million. The government was supposed to spend $3 million in 2019–2020, but the following year, the project costs dropped by only $1 million.

And then all of a sudden, the project jumps up $12 million in this year’s budget to $115 million. Which leaves me wondering whether we’ve spent only $15 million over the last 4 years or the final project will end up costing more.

Or did we try shaving nearly $25 million off the project price for the last two years and realize that there was no way that would be possible?

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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