Local officials hope plans to replace the aging Cowichan District Hospital will be expedited. (Citizen file)

Local officials hope plans to replace the aging Cowichan District Hospital will be expedited. (Citizen file)

New Cowichan Valley hospital could be constructed in three years

Health Minister Adrian Dix tells local delegation he’d like to expedite approval process

The long-anticipated new facility to replace Cowichan District Hospital, considered to be Island Health’s number-one capital priority, could be constructed in as little as three years from now, according to Jon Lefebure.

Lefebure, chairman of both the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District, said he and a delegation from the Valley were pleased by the response of Health Minister Adrian Dix to inquiries about the new hospital at the recent meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

“Three years may be the best possible scenario, but the minister said he is intent on expediting this process,” Lefebure said.

“He told us to get in the conceptual plan for the new hospital to the government as soon as possible so the province can consider the next step, which is the authorization for a business plan. We’re in a good position right now, but we’re really still a number of years away from having the new hospital completed.”

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A conceptual plan will likely include the proposed design of the interior of the building and how many beds would be required.

The province gave the green light for the development of the conceptual plan in January for the approximately $350 million facility to replace the aging, 50-year-old CDH.

In October, 2016, the hospital district also purchased three properties, totalling 22 acres, on Bell McKinnon Road to construct the new hospital.

The local hospital district is responsible for 40 per cent of the cost of the new facility, with the province paying the rest.

To date, the CVRHD has placed a total of $35 million in a reserve fund in order to ensure the funds are there to pay for its share of the new hospital.

But Lefebure cautioned that the new NDP government has yet to allocate any funding for the new hospital in its budget.

“Dix made no outright promises and reminded us that there are a number of other hospitals in B.C. that are old and need to be replaced as well,” Lefebure said.

“But I suspect that most of those are not in the advanced position on the new hospital issue that we currently are in.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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