A Happy Ending To A Surprising Story
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Kudos to our TriCities community!
The pushback to Fraser Health on their plan to take 2 parcels of Eagleridge Hospital land and redevelop as condos was swift and effective.
The Eagleridge Hospital Foundation, responsible for raising $22 million over past years for necessary equipment and programs, was neither consulted nor informed prior to a public open house for Fraser Health to reveal its plan.
In a letter to their donors and supporters, the Foundation stated that its members could not support the Fraser Health plan because it doesn’t fit with the region’s health needs - “ The proposed redevelopment plan shows no long term vision for our community hospital, Eagleridge, or concrete understanding of re-investment in the greater health services of our growing communities of Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.”
The Foundation further said that the impacts needed to be explained to the community. Seemingly our residents are quick studies and grasped the impacts right from the public open house where they expressed their concerns - following on with letters to the TriCity News, lobbying our local politicians etc. They did not buy into Fraser Health’s theory that its redevelopment plan would better utilize the land and integrate the hospital with the surrounding community.
Then came the most recent meeting of the Port Moody planning advisory committee which unanimously opposed Fraser Health’s application to rezone the 2 land parcels from public and institutional to multi-family residential. The committee not only focused on the need to retain the land for future hospital expansion, but also to acknowledge that the official community plan already reflects the necessity to densify with appropriate zoning. To create even more would be a severe strain on the city’s services and amenities. A thoughful but resounding “no” caused Fraser Health to withdraw its application. Our city councillors and committee members deserve a round of heartfelt applause for honoring the wishes of those City Fathers who had the foresight to donate the land to our only community hospital in the first place, and for listening to their constituents.
Now we can look forward to the current hospital expansion, construction to begin this year and funded by Fraser Health with $5m being raised by the Hospital Foundation. This will more than double the capacity of the emergency department, add new isolation rooms for infection control measures plus 2 trauma resuscitation bays. The cardiology department too will double in size with 50% increase in staffing to handle walk in patients. Good news!
We all live, work and play in our community and are exceedingly grateful for the pride of ownership and sense of activism which brought about this result. We must remain vigilant because experience indicates that a similar proposal could return at some point. When we are not talking residential real estate, apparently we are talking institutional! Watch out for those fundraisers from the Foundation to help our expansion and show appreciation for their ever present advocacy on our behalf.
As every week - holidays or not - we continue in that long standing tradition of trust and care.
We have our parasols up to keep you covered!
Michelle, Scott, Sheila, Ray and Shane.