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Business notes: New Cowichan hospital on schedule for opening in 2027

The latest from the Cowichan business community
Westley Davidson, chief project officer for the new Cowichan District Hospital that is under construction, gave an update of the $1.45-billion project to a gathering of local business people on May 25. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Plans are for Island Health to be handed the keys to the new approximately $1.45-billion Cowichan District Hospital in late 2026, said Westley Davidson, chief project officer for the facility’s construction.

Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce on May 25, Davidson said that once the new hospital, which is being designed and built by EllisDon Construction and Parkin Architects, is complete, there will be a six-month transition period from the old hospital and the new 608,000 sq. ft. facility is scheduled to open to the public in May, 2027.

“Construction is moving ahead at a rapid pace,” he said.

“We successfully poured $3.5-million worth of concrete (approximately 3,000 cubic yards) in late April to anchor the hospital, so work is proceeding as planned.”

The new CDH on Bell McKinnon Road will replace the aging hospital on Gibbins Road, opened in 1967, which has 134 acute inpatient beds.

The new CDH will be three times the size of the current facility and house 204 beds

Since the old hospital’s opening, the Valley’s population has more than doubled, and is expected to grow by another 20 per cent over the next few decades.

Davidson pointed out that the old CDH is an “energy hog” and plans are for the new facility to be much more energy efficient.

“It will be B.C.’s first fully electric hospital that will be 30 per cent more energy efficient, 60 per cent more water efficient and it will see a 75 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the current CDH,” he said.

“We’re also exploring ways to source locally grown foods, enhance garden spaces and protect natural habitats.”

Acknowledging the fact that the new hospital’s costs have jumped considerably since it was first planned, from approximately $887 million to the current $1.45 billion, Davidson said it’s hard to predict if costs will continue to increase during the construction phase.

“But the markets have changed and there’s a continuous struggle for resources and people,” he said.

“The costs are currently close to $1.5 billion, but it’s a working budget.”

Asked what the plans are for the old hospital once the transition to the new one is complete in 2027, Davidson said there are no plans for the facility at this time.

“We’ve had some thoughts, but that’s not part of this building project,” he said.

“That will be up to the [Ministry of Health].”


Olga Milchin Shevchenko fulfilled her life-long dream of owning her own pharmacy when she recently opened Mettra Pharmacy, located at Unit# 105, 15 Canada Ave. in Duncan.

Shevchenko, who has been a pharmacist for more than 20 years, was born and raised in Ukraine and spent most of her pharmaceutical career practicing in Israel before immigrating to Canada in 2015.

She has been serving Cowichan and Nanaimo communities as a licensed pharmacist since 2017.

“I was dreaming about opening my own pharmacy literally since I was a child,” Shevchenko said on her website.

“Both my parents are pharmacists. I always enjoyed spending my school breaks at my mom’s pharmacy, watching her give advice to patients, and learning about medications. Now as a mom of two young kids myself, I have shaped my personal preferences for work-life balance, healthy food choices, as well as mental and physical well-being.”

Shevchenko said Mettra Pharmacy is a blend of a conventional pharmacy with a holistic approach, focusing on a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, and looking at the patient as a whole being rather than their isolated symptoms.

“I offer a variety of professional-line quality vitamins and supplements, which can be thoroughly discussed with me as a pharmacist and checked for appropriateness based on the patient’s other medications history and health conditions,” she said.

“I look forward to seeing you at my Mettra Pharmacy in Duncan.”


David van Deventer, president of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce and a self-professed crooner, will host “Karaoke with the Prez” at Fresh Kenny’s on June 22.

Van Deventer, who is also publisher of the Cowichan Valley Citizen and Lake Cowichan Gazette, said he recently attended a karaoke night at Fresh Kenny’s, located at 111 Jubilee St. in Duncan, and sang a few songs.

He said Curtis Flynn, owner of the restaurant that specializes in burgers, tacos, pizzas and fish and chips, recognized his musical talents and asked if he would be interested in hosting a karaoke night there.

“I talked to the chamber executive and they felt it would be a good idea to promote the karaoke night as a mix-and-mingle event for chamber members and guests,” van Deventer said.

“I used to do a lot of karaoke and I considered myself to be a bit of a crooner, so it should be a lot of fun.”

A poster for the event said entry is free and attendees will get a free drink.

“Are you a shower crooner, a karaoke connoisseur, or a hidden diva waiting to be discovered?” the poster says.

“Karaoke with the Prez is where dreams come true. The stage is yours to conquer. Save the date for June 22 at Fresh Kenny’s.”

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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