Premier Notley, members of the NDP caucus, Alberta Health Services representatives and cancer centre advisors helped turn dirt ahead of the start of construction of the new Calgary Cancer Centre in northwest Calgary.

On Friday morning, the group marked the start of the construction project on the Foothills Medical Centre grounds that will begin two months ahead of schedule.

“This building will be so much more than a hospital,” said Premier Notley. “We hope that, in addition to the great care that you will receive here at this new centre from the great people who work here on your behalf and for you each and every day, that you will also find comfort in the weeks and the years and the decades to come.”

The $1.4B cancer centre, designed by PCL Construction Management Inc.,  is slated to be complete in 2023 and open to patients in 2023 or 2024.

“I am thrilled to see us reach another major milestone on this long-awaited project. Strengthening health care is a priority for Albertans,” said Sarah Hoffman, Alberta’s Minister of Health. “This is also an important infrastructure project for Calgary which will help support more than 1,500 mortgage-paying jobs.”

According to the province, the new Calgary Cancer Centre will offer more than 100 patient exam rooms, 160 inpatient unit beds and more than 150 chemotherapy chairs as well as double the space the current cancer centre allots for clinical trials.

Will Morlidge, a Calgary Cancer Centre patient and family advisor who lost his wife Rebecca to the disease in August, says he’s thrilled with the progress of the project that continues his wife’s legacy.

“She was an advocate not just for individual patients but advocated for the whole cancer care system,” said Morlidge of Rebecca’s participation with the patient and family advisory council at the Calgary Cancer Centre. “Rebecca spent hundreds of hours volunteering her voice and her passion to planning the Calgary Cancer Centre. She wanted it to be great because she thought it would be her second home.”

The new Calgary Cancer Centre will be connected to existing buildings at the Foothills Medical Centre through elevated walkways.