By Mike Williscraft
A monumental step enroute to the peak of the rebuild mountain was taken last week with provincial approval and funding for West Lincoln Memorial Hospital to advance to Stage 2 of the planning process.
Minister of Health Christine Elliott signed the letter of approval last Thursday which was dispatched to Hamilton Health Sciences.
“Minister Elliott is committed to bringing a new hospital to the West Niagara community. She echoes the Premier’s commitment to building the hospital that the people in Grimsby and the surrounding community need,” said Hayley Chazan, senior manager, media relations for Elliott.
The early Christmas gift for Niagara West could not have come at a better time, said Tony Joosse, co-chair of the WLMH Save and Rebuild Action Committee.
“Over a year ago. thanks to our great community support, we set up our Save and Rebuild WLMH Action Committee,” said Joosse.
“It’s been an absolute roller coaster ride!”
“With weekly, monthly challenges over this past year, one thing was consistent – our great support from our MPP Sam Oosterhoff, Minister Elliott and Premier Doug Ford. Each and every time we have called upon them for their support they come through.”
Elliott’s acceptance of HHS’s Stage 1 shifts the process to Stage 2, which is the functional program design, which is a more detailed outline.
“To support Stage 2, we’re providing $1.76 million in one-time planning grant funding,” said Chazan, adding, with that, “Our government is re-confirming our support for the redevelopment of West Lincoln Memorial by including this project in the government’s multi-year infrastructure investment plan.”
With this level of support – $12 million in the past year – Joosse said eyes turn to HHS to deliver what the community wants and government supports.
“After numerous communication gaffes by HHS and operational let downs, it’s their time to shine,” said Joosse.
“HHS has to deliver on getting this next phase completed ahead of schedule and ensure we have the full staff complement required to operate and provide our great community with all the services we expect in our hospital.”
While the process continues to advance, Joosse noted the time is nearing to consider the local financial end of the rebuild process.
“Our community needs to prepare to fulfill its part of the agreement to build a new WLMH. With early estimates putting cost of a new hospital around $200 million, the community needs to raise 30 per cent, about $60 million. So if you haven’t donated this year to the WLMH Foundation and or Auxiliary please do.”