Editorial: Announcement means full steam ahead on new Cowichan hospital

The importance to the Cowichan Valley of having a hospital cannot be overstated.

The announcement Friday morning of official provincial commitment to build a new hospital in the Cowichan Valley was a huge milestone.

While we’ve been talking about a new hospital in the community for many years now, and even purchased and zoned a property for the new building(s), until last week there was no guarantee it was ever going to be built. Without the financial commitment and go-ahead from the province it was all just a nice dream. Indications had been good along the way, but until Premier John Horgan made it official all of the community’s preparation work, from the millions being put into savings to the land purchase was speculative.

The importance to the Cowichan Valley of having a hospital cannot be overstated.

If you want to encourage businesses and residents to locate in your community, having a hospital is a huge selling point, and even a deal-breaker. Having one that can provide as many services as possible is likewise important. People with children and seniors alike look to local health care when deciding to locate to a particular region.

A new hospital shows we are a growing community, one with all the amenities of the larger centres to the north and south, as well as the amenities offered by Cowichan’s more rural character.

The new hospital is expected to triple the size of the old one, which has 134 beds. It also won’t have pieces falling off of it, and all the challenges of a 1967 building in 2018.

The timeline for the project is incredibly ambitious, with doors projected to open in 2024, just six years from now. A business plan for the project should be finished within the next year to year and a half.

It’s clearly full steam ahead for this long awaited endeavour.

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