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The Community Benefits Agreement in Action: The Cowichan District Hospital Replacement Project

The Community Benefits Agreement in Action: The Cowichan District Hospital Replacement Project

The construction of the new Cowichan District Hospital (CDH) is underway on Vancouver Island, using an alliance model, a delivery model that is relatively rare in Canada, but has been used throughout Australia and New Zealand. Learn what else makes the CDH Replacement Project (CDHRP) unique and about the jobs it will bring to the Island.

What is the Cowichan District Hospital Replacement Project?

The existing Cowichan District Hospital has been welcoming patients since 1967. Recognizing the need for improved infrastructure and increased space to serve a diverse and growing community, the BC Government has allocated $1.45 billion to replace this facility with support from the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District and the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation.

Compared with the existing hospital, the new hospital will be three times larger (with capacity for 204 inpatient beds compared to the current 148), will have triple the emergency room space, and will have an increase of three operating rooms for a total of seven. Cowichan’s new hospital will integrate hospital-based care with primary care and community-based health services that foster a healthier community. With concrete having begun to be poured in early 2023, construction is underway, and the new hospital is projected to be welcoming patients in 2027.

What Makes the New Cowichan Hospital Project Unique?

The CDHRP has several unique features. The new hospital will be British Columbia’s first fully electric hospital—30% more energy efficient and 60% more water efficient than the current hospital. The goal is to create a welcoming place of healing and hope, and the hospital plans include areas for Indigenous ceremonies, a Gathering Space for large families, a Traditional Kitchen, and more.

This project is the first major health-related infrastructure project to be carried out under the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), a collective agreement that prioritizes hiring qualified women, Indigenous, local, and underrepresented workers for construction. Of the CBA projects underway in the province, the CDHRP is the first vertical project and is also the first CBA project on Vancouver Island, thus providing exciting work opportunities for local residents. 

The new hospital is being delivered through a unique alliance model in which government bodies and the private sector share risks and opportunities and cooperate in a transparent way to ensure ideal project outcomes. To reflect this spirit of collaboration, the alliance is called Nutsa’maat, which means one heart and one mind in the Hul’qumi’num language indigenous to the region. 

The Nutsa’maat Alliance is the first of its kind in B.C. and comprises Island Health, EllisDon Corporation, Parkin Architects, BC Infrastructure Benefits (BCIB), and Infrastructure BC. Parkin Architects is the lead design consultant and EllisDon is the primary contractor. Infrastructure BC is a Crown corporation that works to partner with the private sector in procurement for capital projects. BCIB recruits, supports, and helps to retain the skilled-trades workforce for this project, ensuring competitive compensation with a focus on growing a diverse, safe, and skilled workforce in BC.

Where will the new Cowichan District Hospital be built?

The hospital is being built in North Cowichan on the unceded traditional territory of Cowichan Tribes, the largest single First Nation band in British Columbia. The hospital will be located at 6775 Bell McKinnon Road on Vancouver Island near the city of Duncan.

Highlights of the new hospital’s site include its centrality to the region, the space it offers for new and expanded facilities, and its disaster resilience and response capabilities. The location was selected through a review process led by the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District, Island Health, and the Our Cowichan Community Health Network.

Cowichan Hospital Construction Jobs for Skilled Tradespeople

Are you interested in helping to build the new Cowichan District Hospital? Many different skills will be required throughout the various phases of the project. Although there are currently around 180 workers onsite, at peak construction there will likely be 800 tradespeople onsite, including carpenters, interior systems technicians, scaffolders, insulators, and more. At peak construction, it’s estimated more than 150 carpenters will be needed onsite. You can look for current openings at this BCIB website

Regardless of your trade, you need to apply with BCIB to work on the Cowichan hospital project. BCIB is the employer on the project, working with contractors and unions to recruit, hire and dispatch the workforce. Tradespeople don’t need to be union members to apply, and they will benefit from union membership once they are hired. 

BCIB is currently recruiting equipment operators, teamsters, construction craft workers, ironworker generalists, plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. Refer to BCIB’s Trade Profiles page for up-to-date job openings. For more information about the project, visit



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