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Mayor’s Column – June 25, 2014

Meet the Mayor

June 25, 2014

Why use public money to do a project that really belongs to the private sector?

What’s wrong with what we have?

Why spend 6 million dollars of tax payers’ money for something we don’t need?

Don’t you think you take a big enough tax bite now?

I just don’t like it.

These and other questions make the rounds of the coffee councils when local governments try to bridge the gap between what we have and what we need. It’s no different this time when Council with, we believe, the blessing and support of the great majority of Chetwynd residents has elected to build a new Wellness Centre and Medical Clinic.

They are good questions and they need reasoned answers.

Let me give it a try.

And I’ll start with the need. We have two main medical service outlets in Chetwynd, the District Hospital and the Clinic. If you were to feel a sudden need to consult a physician today you could try the clinic where you might not get an audience. Failing that, you could attend Emergency at the hospital and wait until you get to lay your case before a doctor. This is not the preferred solution for a number of reasons among which are these: it puts too great a drain on the public purse and it stresses the hospital unnecessarily.

But you need medical attention and you can’t get it in a timely fashion at the clinic.

You’re making the case for me. The old clinic is just not efficient and cannot be made efficient.

We need a new and efficient facility.

But it’s public money you’re spending on a private business. Not really. Council has elected to do what can be done to ensure that you have continuing medical doctors working within Chetwynd. Tenants of the new facility will pay market rates for the privilege of serving your medical needs in an efficient and timely way.

And, really, 6 million dollars? You’re kidding. The contracted price is 1.6 million and your tax bill will not increase because of dramatically shortening your wait time at the clinic. You will be waiting in a user-pay-the-cost environment. Northern Health will occupy about 40% of the facility and pay market rates for the privilege. Your friendly family physician will pay for the privilege of serving your medical needs in this pristine environment. So, no direct attack on your tax budget!

As for involvement by the private sector: the private sector had its opportunity, it turned it down, and time has run out. Council elected to act now while we still have opportunity to recruit before we are reduced to two physicians in the old clinic.

You may be invited, urged, even pressured to sign a petition to quash the process. You have until July 18 to exercise this right. We think it would not be in anyone’s best interest to do so but you be the judge. I’ve done my homework. I support the project.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor