Neighbourhood meeting up first in new hospital consults

Public consultation is on the horizon with regard to the new Cowichan District hospital site in North Cowichan.

Public consultation is on the horizon with regard to the new Cowichan District hospital site in North Cowichan. In August the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District board announced three properties on Bell McKinnon Road had been selected to potentially house the new Cowichan District Hospital but much work needs to be done before shovels go anywhere near the dirt.

Recently retired CVRD senior staffer Tom Anderson was hired to help take a leadership role in moving the rezoning of the new hospital forward with the municipality of North Cowichan.

The Hospital District is paying his wages.

“I’ve tried to create a zone that will allow for future expansion to a number of various uses that may not be understood at the present time,” Anderson said. Hospital and related uses, care facilities, supporting services like coffee shops, medical related education and training facilities and more could be permitted at the site.

“Right now the application is in front of the planners and will be reviewed,” Anderson said.

He has told the municipality one of the first public consultation steps he’d like to see is a neighbourhood public information meeting.

“I’m getting the feeling that there’s a lot of very positive vibes going right now with this new hospital but I think it’s really important that the neighbourhood have a chance to express their issues, concerns positive and negative without the hindrance of people from all over the area coming to express their support,” Anderson said. A general public meeting would follow at a later date.

Anderson said to stay tuned for dates and times.

“I’m sort of going to take my lead from the planners at North Cowichan as to when we’ll be able to work that into their system so that they’re able to attend the public information meetings to explain the process to the public and we can provide any other technical and other information that we may have on the hospital site,” he said.

Anderson is also working on a website that will have continually updated information as it becomes available.

The CVRHD has been saving for a new hospital for years. To date the CVRHD has put $22.6 million in a reserve fund in order to ensure the funds are there to pay for its 40 per cent share of the new hospital.

Island Health spokesperson Kellie Hudson said in late August that her group is pleased to have the CVRDH on board as a “keen and active” partner in the eventual renewal of Cowichan’s hospital.

“While it is important to note that this is a long-term strategy, and a new hospital for the Cowichan Valley does not have approval or funding at this point in time, we are grateful for the CVRHD’s enthusiasm and its ongoing support of this and other health care related projects,” Hudson said.