Trail talks hospital and highway at UBCM

At the forefront of conversation was the $40-million upgrade plan for KBRH and improvements to Highway 3.

Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital at night

The City of Trail took a healthy sidestep for Will and Kate during the Union of BC Municipalities in Victoria last week.

But that didn’t stop civic representatives from lobbying for the regional hospital with Minister Terry Lake’s staff and, at a later shindig, the man himself.

At the forefront of the conversation was the $40-million upgrade plan for Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) a project the Health Minister was introduced to during a stopover in Trail earlier this year.

“Unfortunately the scheduled meeting that we had with him was circumvented by the Royalty,” said Trail Mayor Mike Martin, mentioning Lake was called away for some last-minute hosting duties.

“We met with some of his staff, but having said that, Coun. Santori and I actually did have five minutes with him at one of the social events,” Martin shared. “That may have been better because we had one-on-one with him, again lobbying very hard for the hospital.”

The KBRH project remains a top priority for Interior Health (IH), so that point was emphasized, he said, adding, “again seeing if we can somehow get into the chain of priority projects within the Ministry of Health.”

Additionally, the city is working to set up a meeting with Minister of Finance Mike de Jong.

“We did have a brief discussion with him because the final approval for projects of this magnitude goes through the treasury board,” Martin noted. “And that’s where we have to make sure our message is clearly delivered.”

Besides the ministry, Trail leaders met with IH President and CEO Chris Mazurkewich and IH board chair Erwin Malzer to discuss the KBRH sustainability plan, physician recruitment challenges, and the unfolding of B.C.’s Primary and Community Care Service Innovations and Initiatives.

“I have attended a couple of meetings on this approach and it’s somewhat confusing,” Martin said. “So we are looking for some clarity , which in the short meeting we couldn’t achieve. But at least now they are aware of my concerns and that there needs to be some improved dialogue and communication.”

Martin recalled another fruitful meeting, this one involved the Highway 3 coalition. The coalition is a group of advocates, mayors in fact, from all the municipalities that line the highway corridor from Hope to the Alberta border.

“The way this works, is all the mayors meet and come to an agreement on what the next Highway 3 projects are and what we are going to continue to lobby for,” said Martin. “All the work going on, on the Hope-Princeton, was very encouraging to see.

“I just drove it down to Vancouver and back, and what an improvement.”

With the Hope-Princeton upgrades nearing completion, the next project in queue involves a bypass around Creston.

“Instead of driving through their downtown there’s a proposal to put a bypass in,” Martin said. “So that is now going into the second stage of design work.”

Other Highway 3 priorities include increasing passing lanes between Cranbrook and Alberta and improving Highway 3 signage at the Highway 5 intersection near Hope.

“That work will apparently happen this fall,” said Martin. “So we are very excited about that because Highway 3 is not prominently signed in that area. In addition to that, there is a subgroup working on a marketing and branding strategy that Destination BC has agreed to fund (with) a study,” he concluded.

“That will probably take six or eight months, then we will have a framework to work from to promote Highway 3 as a tourist route, and build on the electric highway concept.”

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