Candidates: hospital suspicions unwarranted

Hospital board members assert VIHA will fulfill its commitments

Campbell River will get the hospital and level of health services the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has agreed to, according to two mayoral candidates who are also members of the hospital board.

“There’s been no reason to be suspicious and not to trust them,” Ziggy Stewart said.

Roy Grant and Stewart are incumbent city councillors who are seeking the mayor’s chair and were in a debate with out-of-council candidates Walter Jakeway and Michel Rabu.

“I am completely confident (VIHA will fulfill its commitments),” Grant said.

The issue has come up after the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce issued a statement this week expressing concern about a lack of transparency in the process of developing a new , 90-95-bed hospital and a degree of uncertainty that promised commitments will not be fulfilled (see related story on Page A6). The issue was put to the mayoral candidates at an all-candidates meeting put on by the Chamber of Commerce at the Tidemark Theatre Wednesday. One of nine questions the candidates were asked by the chamber was about what they would do to ensure that the hospital project would go through with the level of services that were originally promised.

Jakeway in particular was wary of VIHA’s silence on the matter and does not trust the health authority.

“I am suspicious of what VIHA is up to,” Jakeway said. “We have seen nothing from VIHA.

“I am suspicious that there is something going on that we’re not going to be happy with.”

Rabu said the hospital has a major role to play in attracting people to Campbell River.

“I also believe we have an absolute mandate to maintain our level of services,” Rabu said.

Rabu said that consistent communication and lobbying with the province is important to ensure the project goes ahead. Both Stewart and Grant assured the meeting that the city has a “great” working relationship with VIHA and the Ministry of Health on this issue.

“Over the last two years we have built an incredible relationship with the (hospital) board and VIHA,” Stewart said.

VIHA has said nothing to indicate the hospital project will not go through, Grant said.

“You have to trust them,” he said.