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Petition opposes rezoning for new hospital in Courtenay

Some neighbours to the proposed new Comox Valley Hospital have started a petition opposing the rezoning of the City-owned land slated for the project.

"Although it is at the 11th hour, the local residents are looking for support to at least preserve the play fields in this community," says area resident Bev Skwernuik in an e-mail. "This open space and the greenways provided in this area of Mission Park are what attracted many of the residents to the area."

A public hearing regarding the rezoning is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Florence Filberg Centre.

Although the majority of the land slated for the new hospital at Lerwick and Ryan Roads is owned by North Island College, a small adjacent chunk of almost 2.3 acres is owned by Courtenay; it is currently called Mission Park and is used as a playing field.

Money from the sale of the Courtenay-owned land to the Vancouver Island Health Authority would be used towards a regional playing field for the entire Comox Valley to use, according to a report to Courtenay council on Monday from City director of legislative services Peter Crawford.

The land sale would only officially go through after the rezoning process is complete.

Skwernuik says some of her neighbours suggest VIHA could build the entire hospital on the NIC-owned land and save the playing field land for future hospital expansion.

"This may ease the transition for the students at Queneesh (Elementary School) and local community, and ease the concerns heard in the community at large, who express worry about a shortage of space for future expansion of the hospital," says Skwernuik.

Courtenay staff have previously said the playing field would be vacated a little while into the hospital project to help give some time for transition. The estimated date to vacate the field is 2014.

A Facebook page called NAG of Courtenay has been set up, (NAG stands for Neighbourhood Advocacy Group), enabling online access to the petition. Bev Skwernuik can also be reached at 250-703-9662 for more information.

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