About the Cowichan District Hospital Replacement

New Cowichan District Hospital

View the architectural renderings on flickr: 
(Details are being finalized during design & construction. Click on the image to learn more.)

About the Project

With the concept plan and business plan approved, and procurement complete, the next step in the capital planning process is the design and construction phase. 

Planning and construction for a new facility is a five-step process that occurs over the span of multiple years.

Project Phases 

  1. Concept Plan: Establishing the need to replace CDH (one year, approved summer 2018)
  2. Business Plan: Determining how to replace CDH. (two years, approved summer 2020)
  3. Procurement: Who will build it and how? (~18 months, approved 2022) 
  4. Design & Construction: Final architecture, engineering and construction (3.5 years) We are here.
  5. Operations: Transfer of the building to Island Health to run (6 - 12 months - ongoing)

Project milestones:

  • 2013 – Island Health confirmed its commitment to replace Cowichan District Hospital (CDH) 
  • 2018 – Concept plan to replace CDH approved by Provincial government
  • 2020 – Business plan to replace CDH approved by Provincial government
  • 2021 - 2022 – Competitive Procurement phase 
  • 2022 – EllisDon Construction and Parkin Architects awarded contract
  • 2022 – Early Works (site clearing/site preparation)
  • 2023 – Excavation and construction began

Upcoming, anticipated milestones:

  • 2026 – Anticipated completion of construction
  • 2027 – Anticipated opening for patient care 

Building a community of care for a community that cares 

The new Cowichan District Hospital reflects the Province’s vision for public health-care that puts patients, families and communities at the centre of care decisions. This model integrates services across the continuum of care, and shifts non-acute care out of hospitals, bringing services closer to people in their communities.

The vision puts as much focus on helping people to stay healthy, address episodes of minor acute illness and better manage their chronic illnesses, as on providing high-quality critical and acute care services when they are very sick, supported by technological innovation. The project builds on our care providers’ long-standing commitment to delivering seamless, patient-centred health services to people across Cowichan communities.

The hospital will offer an integrated care model by blending Island Health’s hospital-based services with the myriad of primary care and community-based health services and support programs, both on the new site and in the broader community, in partnership with other service providers working in the region. 

By connecting emergency, surgical and acute, hospital-based care with community and primary care, the new Cowichan District Hospital will enable smoother transitions for patients at home, in the community or in the hospital — wherever their needs are best met. This coordination will help healthy people stay healthy, while providing high-quality care when they are very sick. It will also result in reduced wait times, better quality care, better health outcomes, a better experience for our patients and their families and improved value for health-care dollars.

About the new Cowichan District Hospital 

  • The new CDH will continue its long-standing tradition of providing high quality care to people in Cowichan communities.
  • The new hospital will be located at 6775 Bell McKinnon Road in North Cowichan.
  • The new hospital will be 56,448 square-metres (607,601 square-feet) in size, more than three times larger than the current facility and will have capacity for 204 beds. At present, the hospital on Gibbins Road is capable of operating 148 beds.
  • The number of spaces in the emergency department will increase from 17 to 36, with two trauma bays, rapid access and discharge space, fast-track streaming space, and a dedicated acute psychiatric zone with two seclusion rooms. 
  • It will be the first fully electric hospital in B.C. and will be built to LEED Gold® (Version 4) standards. It will be 30% more energy efficient and 60% more water efficient than the current CDH with a 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • There will be seven operating rooms, an increase of three, with one dedicated to C-sections, as well as increased CT scanning capacity and built-in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In addition, there are nine surgical procedure rooms, which is an increase of six rooms from the current hospital.
  • Mental health services will be brought up-to-date with a 20-bed inpatient psychiatry unit with access to secure outdoor space and a four-bed psychiatric intensive care unit.
  • There will be a new birthing unit with a capacity for 10 obstetrics beds and a nursery for families and new moms. The new Labour, Delivery, Recovery and Postpartum maternity care model will provide mothers a place to give birth and to stay in the same room with their infants until they are discharged.
  • The paediatric unit will have eight beds, four of which can be used to provide care to paediatric mental health and substance use patients. This is double the paediatric beds in the current hospital, and will help families avoid a drive to Nanaimo or Victoria when they need access to these important services for children and youth.
  • Culturally safe spaces will be part of the new hospital to accommodate traditional healing practices, cultural practices, traditional foods, a Gathering Space, Indigenous Kitchen, Indigenous Health department and room for loved ones to support patients during stays.
  • The hospital will continue to be a training site for medical students in the University of British Columbia Island Medical Program and other allied health professionals. 
  • 800 parking spots will be available; an increase of 400 parking spots over the current facility, and parking will be free of charge.
  • There will be a rooftop helipad.
  • Designing the new hospital and community of care around improved patient experience and provider wellness, means our patients and staff will benefit from spaces that not only flow but are well laid out and incorporate healing design.
  • The estimated project cost is $1.446 billion, shared between the Province, through Island Health, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, with support from the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation.
    • The Province of BC (the Ministry of Health): $1.148 billion
    • The Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District: $282.6 million
    • The Cowichan District Hospital Foundation will contribute to the project through a major fundraising campaign.
  • Future use of the hospital site on Gibbins Road is outside the Project scope. A strategy for next steps will be developed at a later date.
  • The CDH Replacement will use an Alliance project delivery model. Under this delivery model, the Project Owner (Island Health and the Province of BC) and the private sector share risks and opportunities, operating as a fully integrated team to complete the project. This model is grounded in unanimous, principle-based, best-for-project decision-making, wherein all Alliance participants work in a cooperative and transparent manner to maximize innovation while mitigating cost and schedule risks. This project was awarded after a competitive process in which multiple proponents submitted bids and designs under the Alliance project delivery model.

    The CDH Replacement Project Alliance participants are: Island HealthEllisDonParkin ArchitectsBC Infrastructure Benefits and Infrastructure BC.

  • This is the first capital health project to be delivered under the Province’s Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which ensures skilled trades workers receive fair and transparent wages and benefits, including a pension. Under the CBA, qualified locals, Indigenous workers, and other underrepresented tradespeople get hired first. 
    • Anyone can apply to work on a CBA project, regardless of their union affiliation. Once they’re hired, they’ll join an affiliated union. 
    • Any contractor can bid on a CBA project, regardless of their union affiliation. Contractors don’t have to become unionized. In fact, the CBA protects non-unionized companies from being certified while working on the project.
    • The CBA includes cultural safety education for all workers, which helps create safer and more respectful worksites. For more info visit www.bcib.ca

For more information, email newcdh@islandhealth.ca.


Cowichan, Saanich Peninsula and Southern Gulf Islands