A proactive plan put in place by the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District is paying off, according to district chair John Massier.
“The hospital project at Cariboo Memorial could cost more than $100 million dollars, with 60 per cent of the cost paid by the Province and 40 per cent by Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District taxpayers,” he stated.
“The board decided 10 years ago that it was better to have an annual hospital tax in place for people, rather than having to pay borrowing fees. It would be less of a burden for people.”
He explained that because of this plan they have no more long-term debt — it was paid off in 2014. “Now we have a capital reserve of approximately $30 million in place for the hospital improvement plan,” he added.
A tax structure is also in place for future projects. “Property owners are charged $70 per every $100 thousand dollars that their property is worth. As a tax payer, I like this plan — having every tax dollar go toward the actual refurbishing and improvements that we all need,” he said. “This means hundreds of thousands of dollars are saved in interest charges.”
The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional District Hospital District is the same as the CRD board, with the addition of one director from the Thompson Nicola Regional District.
“The role of hospital boards is to fund health-related capital infrastructure in their regions; money for local improvements come from Health Authorities and from local tax payers,” Massier continued, adding the Cariboo Regional District is split between Northern Health and Interior Health Authorities.
He said that the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District board is lobbying to move to the final planning stage in the proposed improvements to Cariboo Memorial Hospital.
“It’s not a quick process. They have to weigh CMH with all other infrastructure needed in other hospitals throughout the province. We’ve really pushed the envelope on this; when the health authorities said they didn’t have it in their budget, we offered to pay for the master plan. We paid the $200,000 to move it along,” he noted.
“It was so great to see health minister Terry Lake come up here; he was engaging and showed good understanding of all the sites he visited in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel. He got to see the incredible staff who keep those facilities running with buildings and equipment ranging from modern to 50 or 60 years old,” Massier said.
“It gave him a good idea of some of the challenges we face.”