Health Centre moves ahead

The Regional Hospital District Select Committee is all for moving forward on the Oceanside health centre.

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) committee of the whole agrees the facility is badly needed and will send a letter of support to the Vancouver Island Health Authority that they are prepared in principle to share the cost of the project.

There was positive feedback on the proposed health centre in RDN chambers Tuesday, Sept. 13 when questions about cost sharing arose.

Taxpayers in the Regional District of Nanaimo are paying 40 per cent of the projected $14 million construction cost, totaling $5.6 million.

Town of Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek said the cost of the facility to taxpayers is worth it because his community definitely needs an urgent care health facility.

“This is a start. We needed it a long time ago. We want VIHA to get on with it and we are totally behind this,” he said.

As for the burden on taxpayers, Westbroek said it works out to $1.60 per $100,000 of assessment, so for a homeowner who has a quarter million dollar house it would cost them $4 per year.

He said it is a lot of money but the investment is worth it.

“It will divert traffic from the emergency room at Nanaimo Hospital,” he said. “It is just a beginning and we will work towards more for the future.”

He said the funding has been supported unanimously by the RDN committee of the whole and while the price tag is currently pegged at $14 million it should only fluctuate by 10 per cent one way or another.

Some people, including members of the Arrowsmith Rest Home Society, which put in a bid to build and run the facility, have expressed doubts about shifting the burden of funding from a private company — Stanford Place Holdings — as originally planned, to local tax payers.

There are still figures to be determined for equipment costs and Westbroek said those numbers should be firmed up next month.

The RDN will also know more by the end of the year about cost sharing associated with lab and imaging and X-ray equipment.


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