Royal Columbian Hospital
Written by Leslie-Ann Drummond, Senior Communications Consultant, Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment

An important milestone was achieved that gets us one step closer to breaking ground on a new Mental Health and Substance Use Centre.

An important milestone was achieved on December 29 when Bird Construction was announced as the preferred proponent to design and build phase one of the hospital’s redevelopment. This means we’re one step closer to breaking ground on a new Mental Health and Substance Use Centre.

Bird was chosen after a rigorous and lengthy selection process overseen by compliance and fairness advisors. After all, it’s important to spend the government’s investment wisely and to ensure no candidate gets preferential treatment during the competitive process. That process started in March 2015 when a Request for Qualification was issued.

Five companies responded with bids. Three, including Bird, were shortlisted in December 2015 to move onto the next stage — the Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP was issued in May 2016 and the summer was spent meeting several times with each of the proponents to answer questions before receiving their final proposals last October. Each proposal was then meticulously reviewed and scored by multiple independent teams to ensure it complied with the RFP requirements, and before landing on Bird as the preferred proponent.

There is a lot to like about Bird’s submission. Bird uses the Fraser River ecosystem as its inspiration and theme for their patient-centred building design concept. Inside, the river is reflected through art, glass glazing and the liberal use of wood finishings. Outside the river is represented by native plantings, benches, boulders and landscaping. There are even First Nations motifs to honour the Coast Salish. Many of the inpatient rooms, all of which are single-patient rooms, will enjoy a view of the Fraser River, as will each of the covered outdoor patios for patients, visitors and staff.

The overall effect created an inviting, beautiful design that will provide a calm and therapeutic environment for mental health and substance use patients, and a better work environment for staff and physicians. The new centre will be located on the hospital’s east side, along Brunette Avenue, and will include a new Energy Centre built under the mental health centre, and an underground parkade below the Energy Centre.

An IT Campus Communications Hub on the top floor will house servers used by the entire hospital. Bird will also build a new IT fibre optic and utility pathway around the hospital’s perimeter. The new facility will include 75 beds for mental health and substance use patients with Fraser Health’s first Older Adult Psychiatric Unit for seniors, and a Psychiatric High Acuity Unit.

The main floor will house outpatient clinics, nine that will be new or expanded, plus clinical education and applied research space. The next step is to negotiate and finalize Bird’s contract in January. Then Bird’s proposed design will be refined through input by stakeholder and user groups.

A flock of Bird’s crew will land in spring of 2017 to begin construction, and will handover the finished building October 2019. This means when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve 2020, Royal Columbian will be celebrating another milestone — the opening of its new 75-bed Mental Health and Substance Use Centre for patient care

For more information on the Royal Columbian Hospital redevelopment, visit

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