Fort St. James Mayor, Rob MacDougall along with District councilors attended the annual UBCM in Victoria from Sept. 26 – 29.
“It was a great opportunity to have our voice heard and have the ear of the Premier, MLA’s and ministers all in one location,” MacDougall said.
UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) was formed to provide a common voice for local governments.
The convention continues to be the main forum for UBCM policy-making and provides local governments of all sizes and areas of the province to come together, voice their opinions, share experiences and take a united position.
“It was interesting to see some of the challenges in various communities that are similar to ours,” MacDougall said.
“It was great to be able to network with various communities and to be able to talk about the same issues and hear about others solutions from rural communities.”
This year, Mayor MacDougall and Council came with a focus.
“For us here in Fort St. James, it’s all about primary care. We met with Northern Health, the minister of Health and with the Premier, Christy Clark, regarding a replacement of the Fort St James Medical Clinic and Stuart Lake Hospital,” MacDougall said.
Fort St. James Medical Clinic is currently operated by the Fort St. James Primary Care Society. They are funded in part by the Northern Health Authority.
It has been determined that the current clinic is far too small to support local needs in terms of office space and examination rooms.
According to District, the hospital was constructed as a temporary facility in the early seventies and it is now 20 years past due for replacement.
NHA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Society to the effect that NHA will provide a new, or leased and renovated building for a “primary care home” to house a combined clinic, health unit and other health services under one roof.
The Hospital District has agreed to fund a portion of the cost of renovating a temporary location.
NHA intends to construct a new hospital; facility to be combined with a new primary care home when funding becomes available.
Council voiced their need at UBCM, that the Premier’s Office does consider the need for a new hospital/primary care home in Fort St. James.
“We are in desperate need,” MacDougall said. “But it appears that we are now one of three highest priorities right now.”
It is Council’s understanding that Fort St. James Hospital is next on the replacement list for the Stuart Nechako Regional Hospital District.
“We put in our ask and I think now we can be very optimistic about the future,” MacDougall said.