Campbell River city council has given the go-ahead for Island Health to turn the Community Centre downtown into the local COVID-19 vaccination facility.
Island Health has already begun targeted vaccinations at care homes and for other at-risk populations, but as the vaccine rollout continues into the general population over the next seven months, facilities are needed in which to deliver the shots.
“While the exact timing of the rollout is somewhat dynamic and subject to actual vaccine delivery timelines, Island Health is now working to establish dedicated vaccination centres throughout the Island,” reads the report presented to council last week. “(The Community Centre) is their preferred location in Campbell River due to their staff’s familiarity with the building from previous flu vaccination clinics, it’s central location, and it’s size to ensure appropriate social distancing during the vaccinations themselves.”
Island Health is expected to take over the Community Centre’s gymnasium, kitchen and an upstairs meeting room starting as early as the end of the month and through September, meaning other programs running at the facility will need to be relocated.
The Campbell River vaccine centre, according to Island Health, will only be one of many in the region, and is intended for Campbell River residents.
“A separate rural centre would be set up for surrounding rural areas,” the report reads. “Neither location is intended to accept patients from other North Island communities. Island Health will be establishing vaccination centres in each community to reduce the need for individual travel.”
Because Island Health has offered to compensate the city for the use of the facility, Coun. Ron Kerr wondered if there was an opportunity for private businesses to perhaps offer up their buildings for the cause as well.
“There are certainly a lot of organizations and property owners within the city that because of COVID are suffering and not able to use their facilities, and this, I would think, would be a real opportunity for them to receive some income,” Kerr says. “Has Island Health approached anybody other than us?”
Mayor Andy Adams says it’s his understanding that they had not, but instead focused on the Community Centre due to their familiarity with the facility, it’s central location and proximity to bus routes, but maybe there is some way that the city itself can make use of those private facilities for its soon-to-be-displaced programs to help them out.
Coun. Colleen Evans wanted to know how quickly space can be found within the community for the programs that will be displaced and how that will be communicated to users of those programs.
“We’re already on it,” says Ron Bowles, the city’s general manager of community development. “The Community Centre programs are some of the most highly sought after and important programs we have in the city and we need to keep them open.”