Band Council disappointed, but won’t block hospital decision

  • Jan. 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.

By Jeff King–The Skidegate Band Council is disappointed the new south-end hospital will not be built in its community, but is unlikely to stand in the way of the hospital being built. That’s the view of band councillor Richard Russ, active on health care matters for the council for several years. “Whether or not we are going to oppose this or draw a line in the sand, we haven’t had a chance to discuss this with council,” he told the Observer Monday morning, adding “I don’t expect we will.” The Band Council circulated a note to band members last week, saying the council is tremendously disappointed the existing Queen Charlotte site was chosen for the new hospital. It also says that while Northern Health says construction costs at Skidegate’s site would cost $8-million more than in Queen Charlotte, “none of the numbers to substantiate this statement have been provided to us.” The note also says ‘whether or not our proposal was given the consideration it was due, this council will not stop the hospital from being built. We realize that if we, as a community, oppose the hospital being built, that the replacement may take several years.We will not be to blame for jeopardizing this project.”However, Mr. Russ says the decision is not the end of the push for enhanced health care in Skidegate. He says council may be interested in finding alternative funding and building another facility or expanding the current health centre. “We have to look at the health care of our people,” he said, “how do we look after our elders, how do we bring them home to Skidegate.””If the province and the powers that be don’t want a hospital in Skidegate, we can’t give up on our elders,” he said, adding “we need something that is more culturally appropriate both in design and service delivery.” While Mr. Russ’s comments reflect the thinking of the current council, that could change quickly, as band council elections will be held Wednesday, and the new council could take a very different approach.