Municipalities hoping new hospital will be the best it can possibly be

Gary Kean
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A crowd shot from Thursday night’s public meeting at Greenwood Inn and Suites.

CORNER BROOK  Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball believes the citizens committee advocating for the best regional hospital possible can definitely have an influence on the decision government will make regarding the facility.

The mayor was among the 250 or so people who attended a public meeting hosted by the committee in Corner Brook Thursday night.

He addressed the crowd and gave the committee his town’s backing. In an interview Friday, Ball said this should be an important cause for every citizen of every community right across western Newfoundland.

“The town of Deer Lake has just as much on the table as any part of western Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said. “We’re all in this together and I think, if we stood united, we could probably convince the province to do this right, now.”

Ball, brother of Liberal Party leader Dwight Ball, was impressed with the turnout for the meeting, given the fact it had to be postponed from Wednesday because of weather, which continued to hamper travel Thursday.

“I really think this is a force to be reckoned with,” he said of the committee’s work. “The province better look out. (The committee has) got a group of people who are organized and who are going to want answers and want to be a part of decisions.”

The main thing to keep in mind, said Ball, is that the hospital has to be state-of-the-art when it opens, not just at the planning stage years before it welcomes its first patients. He supports it having a cardiac unit and a cancer treatment facility, although the province has said the hospital will not have a radiation treatment centre.

“We have to be thinking far enough ahead that, once this hospital is finished, we can’t have any regrets,” he said.

Massey Drive Mayor Gord Davis also spoke at the meeting. On Friday, he reiterated his call for all communities to have more of a say in the planning process.

Davis said the new hospital offers an opportunity to expand health services currently available to the residents of western Newfoundland and Labrador. With Health and Community Services Minister Susan Sullivan expected to meet with Corner Brook city council and the hospital committee, Davis said it’s crucial other communities are also heard.

“We’re hoping when Minister Sullivan comes out, whether it’s in the next week or two, she meets with representatives from all of the region’s communities and not just the city of Corner Brook,” he said.

Corner Brook’s city council and the committee did urge all other communities to write their MHAs and Sullivan to express their views on the hospital. Massey Drive and Deer Lake will certainly be doing that, according to their respective mayors.

Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender said he had a previously scheduled meeting Thursday night and could not attend the hospital meeting. There were three city councillors at the meeting and council will meet with the hospital committee executive prior to meeting with Sullivan later this month.

Pender said the city does have some concerns that would be specific to Corner Brook when he and council meet with Sullivan. He doesn’t think those other communities would be interested in discussing Corner Brook’s concerns about things such as providing water and sewer services to the hospital.

“I think they may be more concerned about the health services that are going to be provided,” said Pender.

The Great Humber Joint Council could provide a collective voice for the municipalities under its umbrella, added Pender.

Coun. Tony Buckle had the new hospital at the top of his priority list when running for Corner Brook city council in 2013. He attended Thursday’s meeting and agreed this is much bigger than a Corner Brook issue. He believes the meeting has helped push the issue a little further into the spotlight and hopes the province will pay attention to what citizens are saying about the plan.

“It’s time to get this hospital started,” said Buckle. “We’ve got to get it going to help benefit everyone in the western region ... At the next meeting we have, I’d like to see 2,000 people there instead of 250. That’s the only way we’re going to get action here.”

Buckle is looking forward to the meeting with Sullivan.

“I’m ready to ask Minister Sullivan some questions, and I hope she has the right answers,” he said.

Organizations: Liberal Party, Corner Brook city council, Health and Community Services Pender.The Great Humber Joint Council

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, Deer Lake

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Recent comments

  • wayne badcock
    January 11, 2014 - 18:02

    Is it not time we stop talking about planning -I seem to recall (could be wrong) that this facility has been announced two if not three elections ago - planning? for what more delays? governments love the need for more planning particularly if citizens insist---it is not our fault --- you all want more planning----but we are still going to do it our way....I am approaching being cynical,have to stop.

  • SayWhat
    January 11, 2014 - 11:28

    At the time I wrote this comment, there was not one other comment on the Western Star web site about this story. However there was some on The Telegram website. One comment was well written about why Corner Brook should not have a PET scanner and it dealt with some money issues. Is there not anyone out there to refute those arguments in The Telegram?

  • Henry
    January 11, 2014 - 11:10

    Don't believe a word you say Mayor Pender, previously scheduled meeting indeed! Come on Mayor you can do better then that. I am sure the Mayor of Corner Brook has the power to reschedule his itinerary when he chooses for many reasons. Didn't you think this meeting was important enough to attend after all you are the mayor and I for one felt you should have been there to represent this city and not just three councilors bringing back messages to you. Very poor judgment on your part not to attend. I personally believe that their maybe other reasons why you did not want to attend and it has to do with partisan politics. It has been suggested at the meeting that other community leaders be invited to the meeting with minister Sullivan and you state that the city has other issues to discuss. Is that code for not trying to include these community leaders in this meeting? I am pretty sure Mayor Pender that other city issues not related to the new hospital build can be discussed separately with the minister after other municipal leaders leave the room. No brainer there. By the way you are meeting with the Minister of Health. I am reasonally sure she is on the West coast to discuss the new hospital as well and not just city infrastructure. The hospital issue is bigger then you Mayor Pender and you need to clear the decks and attend any public meetings or events when they come up. Its your responsibility to the city at large.. Stop the cheap politics.....

    • Insider
      January 13, 2014 - 07:37

      Teacher's meeting? Upcoming contract negotiations.

    • Insider
      January 13, 2014 - 07:38

      Teacher's meeting? Upcoming contract negotiations.

  • Michael Luedee
    January 11, 2014 - 10:39

    To quote from the article, Mayor Pender said, "the city does have some concerns that would be specific to Corner Brook when he and council meet with Sullivan. He doesn’t think those other communities would be interested in discussing Corner Brook’s concerns about things such as providing water and sewer services to the hospital." Personally, I don't agree that is justification for not building alliances with other municipalities and insisting they be at that meeting. The important issues concerning this hospital go well beyond water and sewer such as; when is the construction going to begin and what health services are the people of the region going to receive in this new hospital.

  • Sid
    January 11, 2014 - 07:54

    Tony wouldn't know "the right"answer if it bit him in the......well you know. It takes more than space and equipment to make a service. We could have a state of the art radiation unit but it will be useless without doctors to run it. We just don't have the volume of patients to make it worthwhile for an oncologist to set up on the West Coast.