The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street officially opened on March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips)

The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street officially opened on March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips)

Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District reverses funding decision on care centre

Approval now granted to fund $1 million for Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Penticton

The Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District will commit to funding the Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Penticton, reversing an earlier decision on the Martin Street facility.

At the May 6 board meeting, board chair Judy Sentes reintroduced the motion to the board. In April, the board had voted to deny the funding. The funding request was for 40 per cent of the total $2.5 million cost of the facility, which had opened March 31.

Interior Health’s request for funding had come to the board after the facility had already been opened.

The hospital district board also asked for more transparency in the process. “It was done after the fact,” said Princeton mayor Spencer Coyne. “We need to be treated as an equal in this funding formula.”

READ ALSO: Funding denied for Penticton primary care facility

READ ALSO: Urgent and Primary Care Centre opens doors on Penticton’s Martin Street

Osoyoos mayor Sue McKortoff described the earlier funding request as inappropriate.

“The big issue here is lack of trust,” said Bob Coyne of Electoral Area H.

“We have issues with the lack of transparency and openness. Moving forward we want to be called much earlier on, before something is built,” said Karla Kozakevich, director for Electoral Area E.

Others said the health care facility is important for the region. “We’re in a pandemic. We need health care,” said Ron Obirek, director for Electoral Area D.

Tim Roberts, director for Electoral Area G, said the Penticton facility is important to provide an adequate level of health care for the entire region, in order to prevent bottlenecks within the health care system.

Manfred Bauer, mayor of Keremeos, said it is important to move forward. He asked what will happen with future funding projects if the hospital district were to deny this funding request.

Others suggested that refusing to fund this project could affect future health decisions for the region.

However, Rick Knodel, director of Electoral Area C, disagreed. “Since when do we vote on being extorted by money? That is absolutely insane,” he said.

Subrina Monteith, director for Electoral Area I, said while there have been board discussions, the taxpayers have not been consulted. “We need to ask the ratepayers if this is something they want,” she said.

The decision to provide the funding for the Urgent and Primary Care Centre was approved, but the vote was close. Using the weighted voting matrix, the funding decision passed with 54.9 per cent support.

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