The Vancouver Island Health Authority is proposing to construct a Comox Valley-based regional hospital next to North Island College.
The Department of National Defence nixed the first choice at Ryan Road across from Crown Isle because it falls within an area around CFB Comox and the Comox Valley Airport that restricts the height of structures to less than nine metres. DND is responsible for zoning around the airport because it is classified as a military aerodrome, according to Transport Canada.
“There’s certain zones around an airfield to ensure safe and effective ops of military and civilian aircraft,” 19 Wing commander Col. Jim Benninger said. “Ultimately it’s all about safety.”
Despite the setback, VIHA expects preliminary work, including designs, will be transferrable to a new location at the south side of Lerwick Road near Ryan Road, about one kilometre from the first site, although the location has not been announced officially.
“There are no height restrictions at the property adjacent to NIC,” VIHA communications officer Val Wilson said.
The project is expected to continue on schedule.
College president/CEO Dr. Jan Lindsay and VIHA president/CEO Howard Waldner met in the summer to discuss the potential use of land.
The budget for the North Island Hospitals business case is $3 million.
VIHA, which hired a consultant team to help with site selection, had considered 22 possible hospital locations in Cumberland, Courtenay and Comox before shortlisting to six sites. VIHA then shortlisted three sites on Ryan Road in the Crown Isle/NIC area. The process was based on a set of criteria such as proximity to the North Island population, access to transportation and transit routes, financial considerations and size of the site.
The first location included 15 acres with an option on a further five acres to allow for growth of services at the hospital. The proximity to the college would enable
students to receive hands-on training in a hospital environment.
A selection committee also likes the Ryan Road site for its accessibility from the North Island through either highway via the Dove Creek, Piercy Road or Comox Valley Parkway exits.
The new facility is part of a two-hospital project that includes a new hospital in Campbell River. The latter will provide emergency service in and around Campbell River. Patients requiring a transfer will be transported to the Valley, Victoria or Vancouver. The local facility is expected to have 150 to 160 beds with some regional services. The Campbell River hospital will have 90 to 95 beds.