Residents of the Bell McKinnon Road area are invited to an open house on March 31 on the formation of a neighbourhood plan for their community.
The open house, which will be hosted by the Municipality of North Cowichan, is part of the public consultation process, as the area is being considered for the construction of the new, approximately $350-million Cowichan District Hospital.
The drop-in session, which begins at 7 p.m at the municipal hall, will provide the public with information on the municipality’s work to date on the neighbourhood plan, and seek the public’s input on its elements.
The municipality wants a neighbourhood plan developed for the area within the next five months.
Three properties on Bell McKinnon Road, totalling approximately 22 acres, were selected by the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District in August to potentially house the new hospital following two years of site scrutiny.
This neighbourhood planning process will identify appropriate land uses, evaluate transportation networks and standards, and consider the requirements for extending additional municipal infrastructure into the area.
The new hospital would replace the more than 40-year-old hospital on Gibbins Road.
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.
There are no guarantees at this stage as to whether Island health will choose the site for the new hospital, as the region must now compete for Ministry of Health funding with other projects from across the province.
Jon Lefebure, mayor of the municipality, said in a previous interview that construction of a new hospital is still likely five or 10 years from beginning, but the goal of local governments, and the CVRHD, is to be prepared with a site and money in the bank should Island Health declare Cowichan next in line for a new hospital.