While there hasn’t been any public news about progress on the Oceanside health centre in months, insiders say there is progress behind the scenes.
In January the proponents named the Trillium Lodge property in Parksville as the location of the long awaited urgent and primary care health facility to be built and operated by Stanford Place Holdings — a partnership of the Lower Mainland’s Lark and Ahmon Groups.
Parksville acting mayor Chris Burger said he recently saw plans for the first floor of the two-floor facility, but the proponents are still working on exact site details and Burger hopes they will have information for the next Parksville council meeting.
He said the facility remains one of council’s highest priorities, and other people point out Burger is very supportive.
Tom Davies, with the Federation of Oceanside Residents’ Associations (FORA) said they have met every six to eight weeks with the proponents including Stanford Place Holdings, MLA Ron Cantelon and Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) representatives.
He stressed FORA is not part of the planning process.
“They just ask our opinion on things, and we have a lot of world class talent in our group,” he said of the association that represents 20,000 members through resident groups who had pushed for the health centre.
He reports the facility is shaping up with X-rays, ultrasound, labs and existing community services like addictions and diabetes being secured.
They will have nurse practitioners and facilities for five to seven doctors, he said.
They had a meeting with VIHA president and CEO Harold Waldner last month, Minister of Health Mike DeJong recently and they hope for a brief meeting with premier Christy Clark next week, he said, pointing out the project is clearly rolling along and on people’s radar.
“The minister was very receptive to the ideas, I think they’re developing a model that can be used in throughout under-served areas of the province and the country,” Davies said, stressing that Cantelon, “has done an outstanding job keeping the health centre on cabinet’s radar.”
He said the latest artist renderings he’s seen are very nice with lots of rock and wood, taking things into consideration like the privacy of different functions, with separate areas for urgent and primary care and ambulances.
He said FORA has been pushing VIHA to release more information about their progress to keep the public informed and he’s hopeful info will be coming out soon.
“We have no reason to think the job of getting this done and making it a class act won’t happen. Despite the nay-sayers we’re going to end up with a nice facility here.”
Waldner recently told FORA they may not start construction this July as hoped, but they still hope to finish next summer.
About rumors the facility might be located next door to the VIHA owned Trillium Lodge land on private property, VIHA would only say no decisions have been made but they are considering both options.
They are, “considering a range of options involving the Trillium site/area for the Oceanside Health Centre, including potentially land adjacent to the Lodge,” said VIHA representative Suzanne Germain by e-mail.
Stanford Place Holdings will build the 2,800 to 4,600 square metre building at their own cost of anywhere from $8 to $15 million and own and operate the facility, into which VIHA will transfer its $443,000 in existing leases in the region. VIHA will fund the existing level of medical services in the community and have stated repeatedly there will be no new money for the project.