There was more good news for Burns Lake last week with the province giving the green light for the approximate $55 million rebuild of the Lakes District Hospital.
The week prior, the province announced that they would be pitching in $2.4 million towards the Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena’s multi sport facility expansion project. Both projects are set to be completed in 2015 and both will help attract people to the area. Hopefully both projects will also provide employment for locals during the construction phase.
It is the current Lakes District Hospital’s 50 year of operation this year and according to many, the building is well past its prime. It is hoped that the challenges of recruiting physicians will also be alleviated by the building of a new hospital in Burns Lake and it seems that Northern Health are now choosing to adopt the ‘if you build it, they will come’ approach to lure in physicians.
I certainly hope that a shiny new hospital will help attract physicians that want to live in the area. The revolving door of physicians coming and going from Burns Lake certainly doesn’t provide a stable source of health care for locals.
One thing that many local residents have pushed for is an operating room to be included in the new hospital and it seems positive that there is a provision for an operating room included in the plans.
Of course, you can’t have an operating room functioning without physicians capable of using it.
Also good news for taxpayers in the Stuart Nechako Regional Hospital District (SNRHD) is the province’s decision to cut in half the usual 40 per cent capital contribution required, to 20 per cent.
If the project ends up costing $55 million, the SNRHD taxpayer contribution will be $11 million, which is still a hefty sum for a small tax base, especially one that already has one of the highest tax rates in the province.
About $2 million has already been spent on drawing up the plans for the new hospital and this money will be deducted from the 20 per cent total. There is $4 million sitting in the SNRHD’s capital reserves towards the project, so that leaves about $5 million still to be saved towards the $11 million total.
A number of other hospitals and clinics in the region are due to be upgraded or replaced in the coming years.
The Fraser Lake Diagnostic and Treatment Centre by 2017 for about $4 million, the Fort St. James Hospital by 2018 at about $38 million and the Vanderhoof Hospital by no later than 2030, so SNRHD taxpayers will be asked to dig deep to cover the capital contributions for these projects as well.
The announcement of a new hospital is a great ending to a long road of hard work by many and will hopefully change local health care for the better.