Courtenay mayor refutes hospital claims by Cumberland councillor

City of Courtenay staffers were not on the team that recommended the North Island College site for the new regional hospital.

City of Courtenay staff members were not part of the consultant team that recommended the North Island College site for the new regional hospital, city council is making a point to tell the provincial health minister.Mayor Greg Phelps has written a letter to Health Minister Michael de Jong hoping to “set the record straight” regarding a letter the Village of Cumberland sent in late September asking to revisit the site selection process for a new regional hospital in the Comox Valley, especially as it relates to City of Courtenay staff.Phelps is concerned about a statement by Cumberland Coun. Bronco Moncrief that, “Then came more lobbying, and the decision to hire a ‘local’ consultant team to go through the process again. That consultant team, made up of mainly Courtenay staff, recommended that the new Comox Valley hospital be located in East Courtenay.”The new regional hospital is tentatively targeted for construction at North Island College on Ryan Road. This site is the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA)’s second choice after the Department of National Defence nixed the first choice at Ryan Road across from Crown Isle due to height restrictions this summer.”The only involvement that city staff had was a meeting with the consultants after VIHA had shortlisted four sites — three of which were in the city,” Phelps wrote in his letter to de Jong. “That meeting dealt exclusively with the availability of services such as sewer, water, transit, etc. I am entirely satisfied that the proper division between the city, VIHA and its consultants was followed. City staff were not part of the ‘consultant team,’nor were we a part of selecting the VIHA consultant!”Phelps concludes that, “It is time to put these types of arguments behind us and get on with building the hospital(s).”The letter, written Oct. 5, came to council Monday.”I certainly have no problem with Cumberland disagreeing with the location; that’s their right,” said Phelps.Coun. Jon Ambler was glad the issue was addressed.”The average person in the street can say and do what they want, and short of slander or libel, there’s not very much you can do about it,” he said. “Elected officials, though, have a higher responsibility. They are held to a higher standard, and when an elected official speaks, there’s a responsibility that their comments must be true, they must be complete, they must be accurate, and they must be within context, and that’s a standard that applies to every one of us.”The comments there did not meet that standard and, therefore, we must correct it when it comes forward because if we don’t correct it, then we’re just condoning it, and we can’t go down that road. So, I’m very glad we’ve taken the initiative to do this.”Coun. Larry Jangula entirely agreed with Phelps’s comments.”This decision was made by VIHA themselves,” he said. “Our staff did not go out and say ‘this is where we want it.’ I think it’s healthy we kept at arm’s length. I understand there will always be people unhappy regardless of where we put this hospital. I appreciate your comments.”Coun. Murray Presley concurred as well.”Those comments that were made needed clarification,” he said.NIC and VIHA are currently working on an agreement for use of the land.It has been reported that the Ministry of Health expects the business case to be presented for review by the end of October. It will then submit a capital budget request to government for consideration.Moncrief has said he feels the proposed location at North Island College is no better than the first choice across from Crown Isle and that it is inaccessible.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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