A commemorative water feature will not be added to the front of the hospital. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Hospital board votes down commemorative water features

An estimate for the water features came in $112,000 over budget

At Thursday’s board meeting, the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board decided not to proceed with commemorative water features.

With an approved maximum budget of $50,000 per fountain at both the Campbell River and Comox Valley campuses, the estimate for the two water features came in way over budget at $212,093.93.

The topic had already been voted down by the board in October, but it was brought back on the table at the Feb. 7 meeting for further consideration.

READ MORE: Hospital board to consider water features after estimate comes in over budget

The purpose of the water features was to provide an area of solitude for residents in times of grief or need.

However, Liza Schmalcel, a Union Bay resident who gave a presentation at Thursday’s meeting, said the proposed location for both fountains outside the busy and loud main entrances diminishes the therapeutic benefits of the water features.

Throughout her presentation, she outlined the risks associated with the fountains, including the possibility of children drowning, easing the spread of bacteria and attracting pests, discussed a lack of community input and concluded that the water features were simply too expensive.

“It is the board’s fiduciary responsibility to ensure public money is spent on advancing the objectives stated on their website, ‘To enhance quality of care for patients, especially elderly and Aboriginal populations,’” said Schmalcel. “I fear the cost of the water features risk undermining the fundraising efforts of the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation, and the Comox and Campbell River Auxiliaries. Donors and volunteers may become disillusioned and choose to donate their valuable time and money to other charities that aren’t spending significant money on decor.”

Schmalcel has followed the hospital board closely since her mother spent a large amount of time in the Comox Valley hospital last year, and she wanted to voice her concerns at the meeting.

According to the CSRHD, the hospital costs are shared between the provincial government and the district on a 60/40 basis. The CSRHD’s 40 per cent provides capital funding but does not contribute to the operations of facilities.

“The CSRHD board takes public interests and concerns seriously,” chair Charlie Cornfield said. “The proposed water features were meant to be there for the community to use in times of need and reflection. At the meeting, the board instead decided to place those funds into reserves for future Island Health capital funding initiatives.”

He added, “It’s not that the board doesn’t care about the quality of healthcare provided to our constituents, we’re all very passionate and committed to getting the best healthcare that we can, but that’s more appropriately done by the local jurisdictions. As a board we merely fund the capital projects.”

The CSRHD also provides capital funding for hospitals and health centres in Campbell River, the Comox Valley, Gold River, Sayward, Cortes, Kyuquot, Tahsis and Zeballos.

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