Northern Health is over the moon after the provincial government gave the go-ahead on the business plan for the new Stuart Lake Hospital in Fort Saint James on Saturday.

The Health Authority submitted a concept plan that was approved during the fall of 2018 and Board Chair Colleen Nyce believes the commitment shown by Premier John Horgan speaks volumes.

“That shows that the commitment and the funding is earmarked and we feel really optimistic and excited that this is going to move forward rather quickly.”

However, Nyce was also quick to credit the amount of effort it has taken to keep the current hospital running, which has been open nearly five-decades.

“The fact that the 1972 facility is still around and functional today is a credit to a lot of the people who have worked there and have taken care of it, making it work.”

Nyce adds the new hospital will be three times larger than the one that’s currently standing.

“It will have an emergency department, two treatment rooms, a trauma bay, ambulance bay and diagnostic imaging will also be part of the new facility and it will also include a primary care centre.”

Horgan agrees with Nyce that a new hospital is long overdue.

“The community has been waiting. The hospital here now has been up since 1972 and is two ATCO trailers slapped together and was supposed to be around for ten years and that was over 50 years ago so it’s time for a new one and the community is pretty stoked about it.”

“I give full credit to the community, they’ve been persistent, they have been polite but it’s time to have an investment here and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The new hospital is expected to cost 116-million dollars, it will be shared between the province through Northern Health, and the Stuart-Nechako Regional Hospital District, which will chip in 20-million.

Construction is set to begin in the summer of 2021 with the facility opening to patients by 2024.

According to the province, 450 direct and 300 indirect jobs will be created during construction.