Robert Barron Citizen
The Municipality of North Cowichan wants a neighbourhood plan developed for the Bell McKinnon Road area within the next five months.
The area, which is zoned rural-residential, is being considered for the construction of the new, approximately $350-million Cowichan District Hospital.
Three properties on Bell McKinnon Road were selected by the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District in August to potentially house the new hospital following two years of site scrutiny.
The new facility would replace the more than 40-year-old hospital on Gibbins Road.
Jon Lefebure, who is both mayor of the Municipality of North Cowichan and chairman of the CVRHD, said MNC staff have been instructed to develop a neighbourhood plan in conjunction with the rezoning application for the new hospital site.
He said the intention is to determine the implications of the hospital project on the area, and then gather public input into the plan at a mandatory public hearing that will be held in either June or July.
“We would have to bring sewer services into the neighbourhood to deal with the density requirements of the new hospital,” Lefebure said.
“There is municipal water in the area already, but we may to have to upgrade some of the water pipes. There will be ongoing consultations with the public as we develop this plan, and the public’s input and comments will be welcome.”
The proposed hospital site is a short distance southeast of where Herd Road/Highway 18 intersects with the Trans Canada Highway.
It’s in a residential area outside of the Agricultural Land Reserve within North Cowichan’s urban growth boundary.
The site was selected from a crop of 34 potential sites identified through the combination of a public expression of interest process and a land consultant working on behalf of the CVRHD.
The CVRHD is responsible for covering 40 per cent of the cost of the new hospital, with Island Health picking up the rest of the tab. The hospital district has put aside more than $21 million in a reserve fund for the project so far.
“We’ve been putting aside about $7 million each year from taxes for the new hospital,” Lefebure said.
“There’s still a lot of work ahead, and it may be about five years before construction begins if the project is finally approved.”