It will change the neighbourhood.
There’s no way around it, building a new hospital in an area, any area, will alter that community or neighbourhood.
It will particularly create changes for a rural area that’s currently a bit off the beaten track.
Which is why we’re pleased to see that most of the neighbours in the area where it’s proposed a new Cowichan hospital be built are on board with the idea.
Because the proposed spot is as good a one within the core of the Cowichan Valley as we can think of.
It’s unfortunate the property where the hospital now sits is not big enough for a new one to be built. It would have been most convenient not to have to change the location.
But we have to deal with reality, not what-ifs.
So a location close to the heart of the City of Duncan had to be found. With development over the years pushing ever-outward from the urban core, large pieces of vacant land are in short supply.
Particularly since it is not desirable to take away wetlands or parklands that are equally important amenities to the wellness of our community.
The reason the property must be at least close to the urban core is so that it is as easily accessible as possible for the broadest array of people. Public transit must be able to get to it.
It would be naive to think that the hospital will not cause the area around it to develop in a more commercial direction.
Everything from pharmacies to coffee shops will eventually land there.
Traffic will inevitably increase.
But the change doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
We hope neighbours will be able to take advantage of the project to get water and sewer hookup that so far hasn’t been available to them.
And the area around a hospital has historically proven to be desirable real estate.
Yes, there will be some noise attached to the operation of a hospital, where people come and go 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but it’s not like having an airport go in next door.
Folks in that area tend to have fairly large pieces of property, so vegetation buffers and such would likely solve much of any noise issue for even the closest neighbours.
Does the area need a detailed plan before the hospital process gets much further along? Definitely. There will be growth, and a good plan can help manage it so any negative impacts are kept to a minimum.
Because we need a hospital, too, and this is a good place for it to go.