The Bayers Lake Outpatient Community Centre is scheduled to open November 20. 

The facility is one component of a multi-year redevelopment plan to close the crumbling Victoria General site and build a new hospital, emergency department, and cancer centre next door to the present day Halifax Infirmary. 

The contract for the new hospital is expected to be signed sometime next year with Plenary Health.

Cynthia Stockman is a Registered Nurse who worked in critical care for many years before taking on leadership roles for both the Bayers Lake Outpatient clinic and the Cobequid Emergency Centre in Sackville. In an interview Friday, Stockman described some of the services the Bayers Lake clinic will include on opening day:

• 24 dialysis units for people living with kidney disease
• diagnostic services including Xray, ultrasound, and bone density
• blood collection
• orthopedic, plastic surgery, internal medicine, endocrinology, and other specialized clinics for patient consultations pre and post surgery
• a musculoskeletal clinic staffed by physiotherapists and occupational therapists
• an eye clinic currently at Cobequid Health will re-locate to Bayers Lake
• a family medicine practice on Parkland Drive, Clayton Park will re-locate to Bayers Lake
• a chronic disease program called Inspired

There will be no in-patient beds and no emergency department at the Bayers Lake Outpatient clinic, despite pleas from Liberal Clayton Park West MLA Rafah DiCostanzo to rethink that decision. 

There are more than 300 parking spaces for visitors and the daily maximum fee for parking will be $8. A café will sell drinks, muffins, and sandwiches.

“I think everyone is really looking forward to seeing the building open,” said Stockman. “The design of the building is very patient-focused. It has lots of natural light inside and the grounds are spectacular. There are walking paths and benches and tables outdoors for when the weather is nice.”

Four medical beds are in the forefront of a room with large floor-to-ceiling windows.
An interior view of the Bayers Lake outpatient clinic. Credit: Communications Nova Scotia

At the time the McNeil government announced plans to build the outpatient clinic, part of the rationale was to provide more convenient access to medical services for people living in the growing St. Margaret’s Bay and South Shore areas. There’s easy access from Highway 102 and 103. 

The clinic’s location on the outskirts of HRM diverts people from the congested city centre and avoids the stress of dealing with traffic and parking. That said, any Nova Scotian can go to the Bayers Lake facility for bloodwork or diagnostic tests after making an online appointment. Here’s the address:

Construction company EllisDon built the outpatient clinic in three years. It will also maintain the facility for 30 years in what is the province’s first public private partnership (P3) in health care. 

The clinic was built on time, but it remains to be seen if it is also “on budget.” 

The Examiner asked BuildNS, a provincial government agency with oversight for some health care infrastructure as well as the Halifax and Lunenburg waterfronts, for an up-to-date cost for the building. We will update the article when it’s received. 

Update, 3:45pm: According to BuildNS senior communications manager Kelly Rose, the Bayers Lake Outpatient clinic remains “on time and on budget at $259.4 million over 30 years.” 

Back in 2020, the estimated cost to design, finance, build and maintain the clinic for 30 years was $259 million. The estimated cost to buildthe facility was estimated at $88 million, according to Steve Warburton, communications advisor with the former Transportation Infrastructure and Public Works department. Since then an extra $5 million was offered to EllisDon because of labour and supply chain disruptions attributed to COVID. 

A machine that goes bing hovers above a medical bed.
A Diagnostic Imaging room at the Bayers Lake outpatient clinic. Credit: Communications Nova Scotia

The McNeil government came under fire in 2017 when the government paid $7.5 million, well above market value, to purchase the Bayers Lake land from Banc Developments, owned by Basim Halef. 

(Sound familiar? In 2022, the Houston government paid $34 million for a half-finished West Bedford hotel on Hogan Court that is being renovated to house patients occupying hospital beds while waiting for long-term or alternative care. Lindsay Construction has been hired to oversee that renovation for a management fee of $67,300 a month plus HST. It’s expected to open early in 2024) 

Back in November 2020, the Liberal government released the ‘value for money’ analysis Deloitte did on the Bayers Lake P3 proposal. The accountants concluded that a P3 partnership should save taxpayers 15% less than if government managed the build and operation of the new facility. 

The Deloitte report stated:

The final Value For Money analysis is based on the final project structure and actual contracted costs with EllisDon. The results confirm that the Province should expect overall lifetime risk adjusted costs of Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre to be $35.4 million (14.7%) less through the Design-Build-Finance-maintain arrangement reflected in the Project Agreement than if Bayers Lake was built, financed and operated using the traditional model (the Public Sector Comparator (“PSC”), Construction Management as Agent).

In making the comparison, Deloitte collected historical data on infrastructure projects led by the province over the last 20 years. From a total of 80 identified construction projects, data was collected for 32 projects. 

During the construction of the Bayers Lake facility, EllisDon made the decision to drop out of what had been a competitive process to build the future hospital next door to the Infirmary. Plenary Health remains the sole proponent in current negotiations with the province to finalize a construction agreement to build the next hospital.

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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