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New BC Cancer centre in Nanaimo moves forward

The business plan has been approved for the new BC Cancer centre at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
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​Minister of Health Adrian Dix announcing the approval of the business plan for the new BC Cancer centre at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

NANAIMO – People are one step closer to accessing enhanced cancer care services as government has approved the business plan for the new BC Cancer centre at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH).

"The population in Nanaimo is growing rapidly and aging and we're taking a critical step to strengthen health services in the region, so people get the health care they need closer to home," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "Our government is taking the next big step by approving the business plan for a cancer centre in Nanaimo. This state-of-the-art facility will benefit patients in Nanaimo and the surrounding region through the latest medical technology. This is part of the important work we're doing to detect, prevent and treat cancer in B.C."

The three-storey centre will be built next to the ambulatory care building. It will house a computed topography (CT) simulator, a PET/CT diagnostic scanner and an oncology ambulatory care unit with 12 exam rooms, four consult rooms and space for medical physicists and radiation therapists. The lower level will contain four linear accelerator vaults, heavy concrete structures that contain radiation equipment used in the treatment of cancer patients.

The procurement process is currently underway with construction expected to begin in 2025 and complete in 2028.

In addition, upgrades to NRGH have also been approved. They include a new single-storey addition to the ambulatory care building that will be home to a new Community Oncology Network clinic and expanded pharmacy.

The upgraded clinic will have 16 treatment bays, consult private rooms, a medication room and support space. Cancer care delivered through the clinic includes oral and intravenous cancer treatment, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and hormonal therapy. The clinic also provides initial consultation and treatment planning with a medical oncologist, supportive care, follow-up care and patient education.

The pharmacy will be updated to current standards and feature more space. Construction work also includes 164 new parking spaces featuring a two-storey parkade next to the cancer centre as well as parking stalls in the north lot.

"We are excited to bring a new BC Cancer centre to Nanaimo. The new cancer centre will complement the existing services provided by BC Cancer – Victoria and reduce the burden of travel for people living in central and north Vancouver Island communities. We look forward to working in partnership with Island Health to expand cancer care in this rapidly growing region," said Tracy Irwin, chief operating officer, BC Cancer.

The project's budget is approximately $289 million.

The new BC Cancer centre is a part of the 10-year B.C. Cancer Action Plan, which outlines actionable steps to better prevent, detect and treat cancers, delivering improved care for people facing cancer now, while preparing for the growing needs of the future.

Two backgrounders follow.


What people are saying about the new BC Cancer centre in Nanaimo

Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo –

"We all want people in Nanaimo to get the health care they need, especially at a time of critical illness. A cancer diagnosis is stressful, but with the work underway on a new BC Cancer centre in Nanaimo, more people can count on good care in their own community, surrounded by their friends and family."

Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan –

"The development of a new BC Cancer centre is great news for Nanaimo and nearby communities. Our government is investing in cancer care here and across B.C. to meet current demand and the future needs of a growing and aging population." 

Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health –

"We are so pleased that the business plan for the new BC Cancer centre at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital has been approved. The expansion of cancer-care services at NRGH will enable Island Health and BC Cancer to provide greater access to cancer care, treatment and diagnostics closer to home for people living in central and north Vancouver Island communities."

David Byres, president and CEO, Provincial Health Services Authority –

"The business plan approval for the new BC Cancer centre at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital marks a major milestone in delivering vital cancer care to the people of Nanaimo and surrounding communities. Together with Island Health, we will collaborate with our patients, families, Indigenous partners, and local communities to design a modern facility that is patient-centred, accessible, and is grounded in our commitment to Indigenous cultural safety."

Sarah Roth, president and chief executive officer, BC Cancer Foundation –

"With over half of Vancouver Island's population living north of the Malahat, the BC Cancer centre in Nanaimo is pivotal for patients and their families in local communities. The BC Cancer Foundation is committed to helping equip the new cancer centre with critical, cutting-edge technologies."

 What to know about the BC Cancer centre in Nanaimo

  • As of 2023, the Nanaimo region comprised over 450,000 people, which is roughly half of Island Health Authority's population, and it is projected to continue growing in the coming years.
  • In addition, the population aged 75 and over is expected to grow by around 30%, from 55,000 to 72,000 in the next five years.
  • In B.C., one in two people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their life.
  • It is estimated that more than 1,000 people who live in the Nanaimo area will require radiation therapy in 2024.

According to the Provincial Health Services Authority and BC Cancer, the new facility is projected to support the following in its first year:

  • 11,000 radiation patient consults and follow-up appointments; and
  • 1,600 patient courses of treatment, which will result in 20,000 treatment visits per year.

Since 2017, B.C. government has invested more than $131 million in NRGH.

Investments include:

  • Intensive care unit (ICU and high acuity unit (HAU) redevelopment - $60 million.  ICU completed June 2023 and HAU estimated completion 2024.
  • Steam boilers replacement - $18 million – estimated completion 2024.
  • Electrical energy centre redevelopment - $11 million – completed in 2021.
  • New MRI machine - $5.5 million - completed 2022.

Media contacts

Ministry of Health Communications
250 952-1887 (media line)

Island Health Communications
250 755-7966 (media line)

Provincial Health Services Authority Communications
778 867-7472 (media line)

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