Colwood residents were invited to attended an open house at Colwood City Hall last Wednesday evening (Jan. 31) to receive more information on a new health and wellness centre that might take the place of the park and ride on Island Highway.
Mayor Carol Hamilton and the proponent of the project, Donna Hais, mingled and answered questions with attendees.
If the project were to move forward, it would be at least two years before it could begin after government processing, and if it does, the City would not leave people stuck without proper parking close to transit, Hamilton said.
“We will not be closing the park and ride until other options are available that either met or exceeded what we have available,” she added.
City staff are working with B.C. Transit and other partners, such as the Town of View Royal, to identify other potential locations for a new park and ride.
The current parking lot is already too small with 109 spaces and people have been parking their cars in non-designated parking stalls and along Ocean Boulevard.
Hamilton isn’t sure how many spaces they would need if they were to make a bigger one, but she doesn’t want people to have to resort to pay parking lots.
Colwood residents John and Kim Vincer, who attended the open house, think the park and ride is important for the community from the responses they’ve heard, but they don’t use it themselves.
Kim finds it hard to believe the city needs another place for doctors after the Vincer’s doctor retired last fall and no one bought his practice, forcing them to find a doctor in another part of the region.
“We had to go to Esquimalt,” Kim said. “We were lucky to find one since ours retired in Colwood.”
The Vincers said it would be great to have more GP’s in the area so they wouldn’t have to go as far to see their doctor.
Colwood has lost 14 doctors in the last few years, according to city staff, and more than 26 per cent of Colwood residents don’t have a family GP.
A partner at R.W. Wall Ltd., Donna Hais specializes in finding physicians who want to own their own practice and works with developers to build it to suit the practitioner’s needs. She has created six medical facilites in Nanaimo and has been actively involved in creating a hospital campus there during the last 20 years.
Hais has been doing research on the Colwood location for a year and a half.
The broad-based survery conducted for the total patient care facility included meeting with doctors in the area, identifying the highest type of surgery, and the main cause of medical procedures.
The park and ride would be a good location for a medical facility because it is close to transit, Hais said. “It’s a huge issue to patients and as our population is aging seniors have to have easy access,” she said. “Another piece is being close to a hospital, as surgeons do time at the hospital as well as having their own clinics.”
In the care communities she has constructed, Hais has seen a beneficial culture amongst the doctors who work with their colleagues, and has seen increased medical innovation.
Hamilton noted council will be making a decision based on a multiple factors including public opinion. If the steps to build the medical centre move forward, the developer and B.C. Transit could incorporate park and ride spaces into the development.
The proposal is expected to go to council at the end of February. If council chooses to move onto the next step, the property would be identified as a lot, taking it out of road allowance and determining what it can be used for.