The Cowichan Valley is one step closer to having a new hospital.
But when, and even if, a new $350-million Cowichan District Hospital will be built on three properties on Bell McKinnon Road has yet to be determined.
John Lefebure, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District, said the district is in the final stages of purchasing the properties after the Municipality of North Cowichan met the deadline of July 31 to rezone the properties to allow a hospital.
He said it’s now up to Island Health and the province to finally decide if they want to build a hospital on the site, and when construction would begin.
However, Lefebure said it’s known that Island Health considers building a new Cowichan hospital as its next major capital priority on the Island.
“But the province currently has requests for funding for hospitals from across the province, and we don’t know at this stage when the province will list funding for the Cowichan hospital in its capital-project budget,” he said.
“We’re not technically guaranteed the new hospital will be built on those properties until it’s part of the province’s capital budget, but we now do have a degree of certainty that it will be built there.”
Officials have stated during the process that it may be up to five years before construction begins once the project is finally approved.
The properties on Bell McKinnon Road were selected last year for a new hospital from a crop of 34 potential sites in the region that were 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 and the province picking up the rest of the tab.
The hospital district has put aside more than $27 million in a reserve fund for the project so far.