Path cleared for public ownership of new Parksville health centre

Talks with the Arrowsmith Rest Home Society and Stanford Holdings Ltd. have cleared the way for the Vancouver Island Health Authority to fast track a proposed health centre in Parksville — one they will now own and operate.

Howard Waldner, president and CEO of the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), said they had been negotiating with Stanford Holdings — owners of the Stanford Place seniors facility in Parksville — to take over ownership and operation of the planned health centre. A previous deal had Stanford Holdings building the centre, then maintaining ownership in a private-public partnership. VIHA would have provided services and funding.

Once Stanford agreed to the change, Waldner said they had to clear it with Arrowsmith — the other bidder on the construction and operation of the proposed facility. That, he said, was done on June 28, when Premier Christy Clark visited Qualicum Beach and committed the province to the health centre project.

"I'm pleased with the premier's support when she was here," said Waldner in an interview in Parksville this week. "We'll do our bit to live up to the timeline that she has set out for us."

Clark told The News on June 28 that the province hoped the construction would begin in September and be open by 2012.

"It's going to happen. We are getting on with it," Clark said at the time.

Arrowsmith's assent, said Waldner, prevents the health centre project from having to go back to square one.

This change means the health centre will be owned and operated by the public health authority. Had it gone private, as originally planned, land zoning requirements by the City of Parksville would have held up construction by a year, Waldner said. The change means the land — next to the existing Trillium Lodge on Despard Avenue in Parksville — does not need to be re-zoned and all VIHA needs now is a building permit, which is part of ongoing negotiations with the municipality.

Waldner said the construction will cost between $10 and $12 million. He said VIHA has the money is its budget and support from the province. All that's required to proceed is said building permit and a final signature from the province on VIHA's health centre business plan.

Read more in Friday's print edition of The News.

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