B.C.’s next urgent care centre should be in West Kelowna, Mayor says | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C.’s next urgent care centre should be in West Kelowna, Mayor says

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom is pictured in this photo from Facebook.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Facebook

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom is putting a positive spin on news that Kelowna will get an urgent primary care centre but he’s pushing to have the next such facility open on the Westside.

“Obviously it’s been determined that there’s a need for such a centre there (Kelowna),” he told iNFOnews.ca today, Sept. 20. “I also believe there’s certainly a need for an urgent primary care centre on the greater Westside to serve West Kelowna, Westbank First Nations and Peachland. Hopefully, the next announcement will be for our centre.”

The facility was announced in Kelowna yesterday and it is scheduled to open at the Capri Centre mall by late December.

West Kelowna politicians have argued for years they need health care facilities on their side of Okanagan Lake, especially if the Bennett Bridge was closed for any reason.

Interior Health bought eight acres of land in 2010 “as a long term investment,” according to Interior Health communications officer Karl Hardt in an email to iNFOnews.ca in July.

All that land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve and is being leased out and farmed, Hardt wrote. Four acres are “eligible for health care use under current zoning.” The land, he wrote, is “being held for future health care needs.”

In 2011, Westbank First Nation announced plans for a full-fledged hospital on its lands but that project collapsed a few years later.

In 2013, the City of West Kelowna hired a consultant who found that visits to Kelowna General Hospital emergency room by Westside residents had actually dropped since 2008, likely due to more walk-in clinics and other health services being offered. The consultant recommended the city lobby for increased services, which it has continued to do.

Milsom is planning to meet with Health Minister Adrian Dix during the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver next week.

“We’re going to have a good discussion with him to review the reasons why we believe we should be next considered for an urgent and primary care centre,” Milsom said.

Milsom was not surprised by yesterday’s announcement and would not express any disappointment about being passed over.

“I would put it that we’re moving towards having such a centre in the Westside,” he said. “We’re just taking steps towards doing that. Doing due diligence, doing the planning and hopefully, we’ll also have such a centre in the next year or two. It’s just a matter of doing our groundwork and working with the stakeholders involved.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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