According to the timeline given by Health Minister Susan Sullivan, residents of this region should know soon just what kind of regional hospital they can expect to see built on the massive vacant lot near Wheeler’s Road.
The minister was in the city Wednesday for the opening of a new restorative care unit in the city and, while here, took the time to meet with the municipal leaders and the hospital action committee.
Late last year, a tender call was made for the first phase of the multi-million dollar project.
That means residents who have had their doubts about the suitability of the facility, which will be built to serve the region for decades, will finally be able see some actual mockups — if they are given that chance. The provincial government has had the project studied on several occasions and keeps saying they want a hospital that is right-sized with an eye to the bottom line.
Residents, on the other hand, want a regional hospital that will serve their needs, not the needs of government accountants or politicians who are worried about trimming spending.
There seems to have been a dawning of more openness in government since the departure of former premier Kathy Dunderdale, and we can only hope that continues with this health care project.
So far, all kinds of experts and consultants have been involved in the process of deciding what services the planned hospital will offer.
When a group is chosen for the design and building of the first phase of the facility that is scheduled to open in a few short years, the public should be brought into the process and shown just what is being planned.
Politicians and their public servants may not want the process complicated by opinions and demands of those who live in this region — and who be depending on the regional hospital to care for them, their families and their neighbours — but their unease matters little to the rest of us.
Millions of dollars will be spent on this massive project; it might as well be spent wisely.
Seeking opinions from all those impacted will go a long way to ensure that happens.