CRD committee supports funds for emergency room project

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A new emergency department for Lady Minto Hospital gained traction last week after the Capital Regional Hospital District’s hospitals and housing committee gave its support to contributing $3 million to the $10-million project.

“It definitely feels very positive,” said Dave Taylor, chair of the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation’s communications and fundraising committee, on Friday. “We are cautiously optimistic.”

The proposal now goes to the CRHD Board for consideration on Oct. 14.

Salt Spring’s Capital Regional District electoral area director Gary Holman said the supporting committee vote was unanimous and the project has CRD staff support, which bodes well for receiving final approval.

While Island Health would normally be a major funding partner for a significant capital project, Taylor and Holman both indicated that competing priorities in the region meant the Lady Minto emergency department might never see the light of day if the LMHF waited for Island Health.

It was on a long list of Island Health capital projects, but with no indication of how long Salt Spring would have to wait for funds since it competes with larger projects in the whole region.

“It’s like waiting for Godot,” said Holman.

Fortunately, the LMHF is in a strong position to fund the rest of the project by using $4 million in its endowment fund, and its board is confident it can raise a further $3 million.

“We know there is a lot of community support out there for this,” said Taylor, adding that CRHD approval will be “a big confidence booster to potential funders.”

A schematic design of the project, which will see an addition to the existing building located in the upper area of the parking lot, has been done. The next steps are to complete detailed design and construction documents, ideally by the spring of 2021, and then put the project out to tender. 

Island Health has committed to funding the ongoing annual operating costs of the new emergency room.

A renovation of the existing hospital emergency department was originally investigated in 2013 and estimated to cost about $5 million. Building an addition, as well as preparing for a future new medical imaging department, has since been deemed the preferred route to take.

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