Beaverlodge Mayor Gary Rycroft will be leading a contingent of town administrators to meet with provincial health minister Adriana LaGrange in Edmonton Aug. 23.
Rycroft will be joined by town coun. Judy Kokotilo-Bekkerus and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Jeff Johnston in the effort to continue to apply pressure for a replacement for the Beaverlodge Hospital.
“It’s just an engagement to make sure everybody’s talking in the same language,” Rycroft said.
He noted the town is trying to get Alberta Health Services (AHS) to sign a lease on the new building, to be constructed with a Public-Private-Partnership (P3).
Rycroft said the lease was in the works before the writ was dropped for the provincial election May 29.
“But of course, it didn’t get signed before the election was called, so now it’s back into process and there’s new ministers involved so they have to be caught up,” Rycroft said.
“They’re not going to sign anything unless they know what’s going on.”
While he called it a step back, he said the project is not back to square one.
“AHS has agreed to the lease, it just has to go through Infrastructure and the ministers and what not,” he said.
“We’re still on track. It just took a little diversion.”
The town partnered with Landrex Corporation in the fall of 2021 to design and establish the cost of the P3 health care complex, and has been in the process of working with AHS to sign a lease for the project.
Rycroft said the project is still important to the community.
“Small town healthcare gets forgotten in the big picture,” he said.
“I think on a large scale, the entire rural Alberta is suffering compared to what happens in the city.”
Rycroft said Premier Danielle Smith had discussed the importance of the project in Grande Prairie before the election was called.
“Smith has mentioned it a couple of times since the election, so it's not out of her mind either,” he said.
“It can be very important for the entire province and how things are done in the future.”
County of Grande Prairie Reeve Bob Marshall, Grande Prairie MLA Nolan Dyck, Grande Prairie-Wapiti MLA Ron Wiebe along with Town of Sexsmith Councillor Bruce Black and Rycroft met with Premier Danielle Smith earlier this week in Grande Prairie to talk about advancing the replacement hospital in Beaverlodge as well as other local issues.