Vital infrastructure funding must come soon

A ging public infrastructure is a huge problem across Canada, and the Cowichan Valley hasn’t dodged the bullet.

Two vital pieces of Valley infrastructure come to mind immediately: the Cowichan District Hospital and Cowichan Secondary School.

Both are supposedly “on the list” of replacement priorities for the provincial government, but the years are rolling on and the problems are only going to get bigger as they do.

When it comes to CDH a number of organizations have started raising money for the needed replacement and a suitable site is being sought. But in the meantime, pieces of the building have literally been falling off.

And in spite of the valiant and incredibly successful efforts of locals to raise money, no replacement will be possible or will go ahead without substantial investment by the province. And until those dollars are in the bank, so to speak, and the shovels have gone in the ground we’re not counting our chickens.

These are folks, after all, who love to centralize, and love to cut even more. We’re a community in the middle of two bigger centres: Nanaimo and Victoria. How many services must our residents already travel for?

With the province eying the idea of publicly funding surgeries requiring overnight stays at private clinics, making them essentially private hospitals, our wary eye is open and watching.

As for Cowichan Secondary, we’re not even as far along in that process as we are with the hospital replacement, in spite of the fact that Cowichan Place, the marriage of Vancouver Island University, a new Cowichan Secondary School and the

Island Savings Centre with its library, theatre, and arena, was announced in 2005.

Vancouver Island University is there. The Island Savings Centre is there. And Cowichan Secondary is still across the road.

It’s our Valley’s biggest high school by far, clearly serving an important role in our public education system. Does it have to fall into complete ruin before something is done?

Even if it hit the top of the province’s new schools list funding, 50 per cent of which must come from the district, would be a huge stumbling block. Quite simply, our district doesn’t have that kind of money. And it’s all pretty moot anyway, with the provincial government essentially telling districts last summer that new schools will not be happening any time soon.

And yet we continue to fund private schools with our tax dollars, as they build multi-million dollar expansions with generous donations.

We’re not okay with saying goodbye to essential public institutions through sheer neglect. Our governments, both provincial and federal, need to step up. Before it’s too late.