A massive century-old red brick complex now sits empty, but not far away, the new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford is up and running.
As early as May, the province will issue a request for proposal (RFP) for the sale or redevelopment of the old Saskatchewan Hospital site.
“What makes practical sense to preserve we will, but we will be decommissioning the facility and getting it ready for an RFP for redevelopment,” Central Services Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said.
“If nobody comes forward, then we would be looking at demolition,” Cheveldayoff said.
The RFP for demolition would take place in the fall. If the building is demolished, the province would then consider subdividing and selling some of the land.
There are plans to preserve the stone chapel on site.
It features stonework done by a patient who was admitted to the hospital in 1921 at the age of 35 and remained a patient until he died in 1970. The province said it would also work with the Battlefords North West Historical Society and any potential developer to promote the preservation of other stonework on the property.
Public access to the existing cemeteries located on site will also be maintained.
Jane Shury, chair of the Save Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford committee with the Battlefords North West Historical Society, said it’s important to preserve the history of the hospital.
“The goal of the committee is to save as much as possible of the building, as well as the history of the care and treatment at the mental hospital during its first 100 years,” Shury explained.
Shury said the committee would like to set up a display on the former site to commemorate the original facility.
“We would like to keep part of the facade at least of the hospital. If that is not possible, we then have plans to make a replica, get the bricks from the facade from the hospital,” Shury said.
Shury explained the proposed project would also incorporate a walking trail on the site, to honour different aspects of the hospital’s history.
Shury graduated from the Saskatchewan Hospital as a registered psychiatric nurse in 1956.
“It’s going to be dreadful when that’s not there. Hopefully, we can maintain, or at least keep some part of it,” Shury said.
The Saskatchewan Hospital was built between 1911 and 1913, and opened to patients in February 1914.