COLUMN: Second hospital for Surrey long overdue

Courtesy of a major financial commitment by the NDP government, Surrey is taking a large step in the right direction. A second hospital will be built in the city – something that is long overdue.

Surrey will one day be the largest city in the province. When that will occur is anyone’s guess, but it will likely be sometime in the next 20 years.

For far too many years, the actions of various provincial governments and regional government agencies have spoken much louder than words. Surrey has received the short end of the stick on so many occasions that it has almost become the default position.

The current provincial government has done significantly better – perhaps being more aware that it is due to Surrey and North Delta residents that it is in power. The NDP hold six of the nine Surrey seats and the Delta North seat. Before the 2017 election, the NDP had three of those 10 seats. The NDP still won fewer seats than the BC Liberals in the election. It was only because of a formal support agreement from three Green MLAs and former BC Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas agreeing to become Speaker that the party has a comfortable grip on power.

Premier John Horgan is a savvy politician and wants to keep his hold on power. It is very interesting that he took over the NDP leadership by acclamation – no one else wanted the job. Now he is premier and the opposition BC Liberals, who held power for 16 years, have had a difficult time doing much damage to him and his government.

Health Minister Adrian Dix, who was leader of the NDP before Horgan took over, knows the health file intimately. For many years, he was the party’s health critic. He is diligent and detail-oriented. Since assuming office, he has worked to implement one of the party’s promises – setting up urgent care centres, to help ease some pressure from emergency rooms. One of the first was set up in Surrey, with one of the reasons being to specifically take some pressure off the Surrey Memorial ER.

Dix has also been looking carefully into planning a new Surrey hospital. This was an issue where the BC Liberals fell down. The government owned a potential hospital site in the Sullivan area but decided to sell it in one of its periodic divestitures of real estate, which seemed designed to balance the budget when it was politically expedient to do so.

The Dec. 9 announcement of the Cloverdale site for the new hospital (adjacent to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Cloverdale campus) was the next step in that process.

While a few people are concerned about added noise, congestion and other challenges that will most certainly come, most Surrey residents are pretty happy that a new hospital will be built here. It will mean significant changes in the Cloverdale area, but the reality in a fast-growing city is that changes are pretty constant. Having much-needed health services close by is essential, and the government is to be commended for making this a priority.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News, as well as at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca – email frank.bucholtz@gmail.com

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