Pricey water features nixed for Comox Valley and Campbell River hospitals

Board dumps therapeutic installations that may have cost twice their budget estimate

The plug has officially been pulled on a pair of high-priced water features proposed for the new hospitals in Comox and Campbell River.

The Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital District decided Feb. 7 to no longer pursue their installation after bids came in at more than double what was initially approved.

The two water features were to include a waterfall with a catch pool, lighting and seating. The fountains are meant to recognize the services provided by the previous hospitals and those who contributed to the construction of the new hospitals. Back in June 2017, the Commemorative Items Select Committee approved these parameters and also agreed on a maximum budget of $50,000 for each.

RELATED: Hospital officials to debate future of water features

However, an estimate for the project from an onsite contract manager came in significantly over budget at $212,093.93 for the two fountains.

The purpose of the water features was to provide an area of solitude for residents in times of grief or need. However, Liza Schmalcel, a Union Bay resident said the proposed location for both fountains outside the busy and loud main entrances diminished the therapeutic benefits of the water features.

“I fear the cost of the water features risk undermining the fundraising efforts of the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation and the Comox and Campbell River Auxiliaries,” Schmalcel said. “Donors and volunteers may become disillusioned and choose to donate their valuable time and money to other charities that aren’t spending significant money on decor.”

Schmalcel has been following hospital spending as her mother spent a total of 60 days in hospital last year, getting moved from room to room, or being placed in the hallway or common areas for hours or days at a time with no call bell, no private washroom and no privacy. Schmalcel says this was a very stressful time for her mother.

“The CSRHD board takes public interests and concerns seriously,” said CSRHD Board Chair Charlie Cornfield. “The proposed water features were meant to be there for the community to use in times of need and reflection. At the meeting the board instead decided to place those funds into reserves for future Island Health capital funding initiatives.”

The CSRHD provides capital funding, cost shared with the provincial government on a 60/40 basis, with the hospital district portion being 40 per cent. The CSRHD does not fund the operations of facilities.

The facilities that the CSRHD provides capital funding for are: Campbell River & District General Hospital, St. Joseph’s General Hospital, Cumberland Regional Hospital Laundry Society, Gold River Health Clinic, Sayward Primary Health Centre and the health centres on Cortes, and in Kyuquot, Tahsis and Zeballos.

For more information on the CSRHD, click here.

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