North Island College site for hospital needs lots of study

There's still a lot of work to be done to determine whether the site is appropriate for a new hospital, but North Island College's president sees some benefits to locating the new facility by the campus.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) is now considering locating the new Comox Valley hospital on 10 acres of land owned by North Island College (NIC) on the south side of Lerwick Road after the first site north of Lerwick in Crown Isle was deemed unsuitable.

There’s still a lot of work to be done to determine whether the site is appropriate for a new hospital, but North Island College’s president sees some benefits to locating the new facility by the campus.The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) is now considering locating the new Comox Valley hospital on 10 acres of land owned by North Island College (NIC) on the south side of Lerwick Road after the first site north of Lerwick in Crown Isle was deemed unsuitable.Dr. Jan Lindsay, president of NIC, and Howard Waldner, president and CEO of VIHA, met early last week to discuss the potential use of the land.”At this point, we’re both working on investigating details around what the positioning on the site might look like if we were to proceed,” said Lindsay. “It takes quite a while to come together. Right now, we’re doing a lot of reviewing of how appropriate the site is. At some point, we’ll get back together, but right now, we’re doing the research that needs to be done.”Lindsay says a hospital adjacent to the college campus could be a good fit for students and faculty.”I think certainly we offer a lot of health-care related programming, and if we had a hospital located close by, it would allow our students easier access to clinical sites,” she said. “Also, there is potential sharing of information between teaching faculty and nurses and doctors. Also, there’s proposed teaching or lecture space in the hospital, so there is potentially some sharing of resources through infrastructure.”NIC is also looking at what might be some of the possibilities for some of the college’s construction students to be involved in the construction of the hospital as apprentices, she noted.”These ideas are all speculative, but it does allow us to look at different ways our programs might connect,” said Lindsay.One concern for NIC is how the hospital would be sited.”I think the major thing we’re concerned about looking at before we’re willing to proceed is to make sure any siting of that land wouldn’t take away from the identity of the college and wouldn’t overwhelm the college,” said Lindsay. VIHA is in the process of developing the business plan for the renewal of hospital services on the North Island, which includes constructing new hospitals in Campbell River and the Comox Valley. VIHA announced in January that it had selected a location on Ryan Road within the Crown Isle development as the preferred site for a new hospital in the Comox Valley.But this site falls within a three-kilometre area around CFB Comox and the Comox Valley Airport that restricts the height of structures to less than nine metres. VIHA has been in discussions with the Department of National Defence since March to secure a variance on this height restriction but learned recently that a variance was not possible.   VIHA and NIC will now continue discussions towards formalization of an arrangement around the land. “Discussions continue with North Island College, and we’re still, in our mind, on track to hopefully achieve a deal in principle within the next few weeks or so,” said Grant Hollett, director of the North Island Hospitals Project.VIHA expects the preliminary work that has already gone into this hospital — including designs — to be transferrable to a new location and that the project will continue on schedule.The NIC land was the second preferred site identified for the new hospital.”It’s very similar to the Ryan Road site,” said Hollett. “The two probably would have scored the same, but a distinct difference is the NIC site is a bit smaller. The infrastructure is the same.”Hollett believes the NIC site might have an advantage regarding sewer, while the traffic considerations and proximity to population are the same, and the synergy with NIC is obviously even better at this site.VIHA had negotiated an agreed-upon price for the original site within Crown Isle that was below appraised value but has not paid any money to Crown Isle for the site, according to Hollett.”We had negotiated a letter of intent with Crown Isle; the conclusion of a sale of that land between Crown Isle and VIHA was conditional on the approval of a business case by the B.C. government,” he said, adding the letter of intent with Crown Isle will be nullified.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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