NDP vow to begin planning for second Surrey hospital

NDP accuse Liberals of ignoring Surrey growth while Liberals call hospital announcement ‘desperate’

NEWTON — Surrey’s NDP candidates scheduled a press conference Monday to announce their party, if elected, would begin planning for the construction of a new hospital in the city.

They did so at a site once slated for a second Surrey hospital before being sold, and more recently, rezoned for development.

The NDP say the planning will cost approximately $3 million and criticized Premier Christy Clark and her Liberals for “ignoring the growth” in Surrey.

“We needed planning for a new hospital on these lands 10 years ago when it was promised, yet Christy Clark’s government sold off the lands where it would have eventually been built,” said Jinny Sims, NDP candidate in Surrey-Panorama. “Surrey patients can’t afford another four years of Christy Clark’s cuts and neglect and their opposition to our commitment to another hospital is stunning.”

Jagrup Brar, NDP’s candidate in Surrey-Fleetwood, accused the Liberals of neglecting the health care system “which has led to long waits in emergency rooms and hallway medicine at hospitals like Surrey Memorial.”

The Liberals are swinging back, calling the NDP’s announcement “desperate” because it’s a commitment not included in their platform.

“Yesterday, it was an un-costed, phantom promise related to the Cowichan Hospital,” notes a BC Liberal release. “Today, it’s a promise to fund something called a ‘strategic analysis’ on the need for a new Surrey hospital – and neither is reflected in the BC NDP platform. And just last week, John Horgan refused to commit to a new hospital in Surrey, when speaking with Harjinder Thind on Red FM.”

BC Liberal Surrey-Panorama candidate Puneet Sandhar said the NDP are “pulling new promises out of thin air.”

Sandhar called it “laughable” to have the NDP talk about a new hospital in Surrey when they didn’t put it in their plan.

“This promise is from the same NDP that didn’t build a single hospital the last time they were in government and actually cut the number of nursing spaces in BC,” Sandhar added.

The property where the NDP scheduled their press conference (5750 Panorama Drive) has had a “checkered history,” former Surrey-Panorama Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt (who is currently seeking election in the Surrey-Cloverdale riding) told the Now-Leader last year.

Way back when it was supposed to be a Woodwards shopping mall but lawsuits killed that idea, Hunt said. Then, the provincial government purchased it to put in an ambulatory care facility but the hospitals thought it would be too far so that idea got spiked as well and the Jim Pattison Outpatient centre was later constructed near Green Timbers forest. After that, the property got put up for sale as surplus, said Hunt.

But last July, Surrey City Council approved an application from Redekop Homes to build 181 townhouses and 106 rental apartments there.

The Vancouver Sun recently compiled a list of the top 50 donors to the BC Liberals since 2005, who together contributed more than $30 million to the party. Peter Redekop came in at number 14 out of 50, contributing $719,800.

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com