Hospital Point financial aid sought

A place of healing 100 years ago could do so again, recreationally

Regional District office

Hospital Point is one of the most picturesque points of historical interest on the south shore of Francois Lake. The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) has embraced it as a key element for local residents’ enjoyment as well as tourism. More development is hoped for, and came a step closer to happening this week when the RDBN elected board voted in favour of staff’s enhancement plans.

“We have applied for some grant funding to develop the project,” said Jason Llewellyn, the RDBN’s director of planning. But the application in question, from the Destination Development Fund, required the official support of the elected officials of the area. Those officials gave their approval at their Dec. 15 public meeting.

“It’s a great little park that we were gifted by the Southside Seniors’ Housing Society,” said Llewellyn. “They already developed it as a pretty significant recreational area, a real amenity for the community. There’s a nice walking trail and a bit of a boat launch and a picnic area, so we are definitely interested in doing some improvements and adding value to it, for sure.”

The place got its name because it was, naturally enough, the site of the first dedicated hospital in the Lakes District on public land. The previous hospital was on private land, that of rancher John Keefe. The new one was established in 1920 on what was then called Prosser’s Point. It was the site of the area’s first permanent resident physician (previous doctors were visitors), Dr. A Grey, who arrived there on May 20, 1920 when the ferry could cross the previously frozen lake. Marion Kennedy was the matron of the hospital. Two female major figures came in succession, Dr. Mosy Williams in 1922 and Superintendent A. Moore in 1924 who moved the facility to Burns Lake.

“It has a great history, and it is such a fantastic piece of property,” said Llewellyn. “As the name would suggest it has a nice little point there, on the water, a pebble beach, it’s a perfect spot. We just built a proper outhouse there, this fall, so our plans are already underway.”

There is already a community hall there as well, and an easygoing 600-metre trail, all just 1.2 kms trip to the west of the Francois Lake ferry terminal at Southbank. It is the most prominent finger out into the lake, at the docks.

It is anticipated, according to the RDBN’s plan, that Hospital Point Park will be developed with day use picnic sites, improved boat launch facilities, and a picnic shelter. It has not yet been determined whether a campground will be part of the development plans.

The application for this potential funding is in the Expression Of Interest phase, and should it advance to the shortlist phase, the development plans will be fleshed out in detail.

The Destination Development Fund is a provincial government program designed to benefit projects that increase tourism, provide mobility-friendly facilities, and benefit the local economy by attracting visitors. If shortlisted and invited to submit a full application, this funding stream will cover 100 per cent of eligible project expenses.

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