MLA-led committee not official planning process for Burnaby Hospital: Corrigan

Mayor Derek Corrigan -
Mayor Derek Corrigan
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Despite much fanfare, the community consultation committee looking into the future of Burnaby Hospital is not the official planning process for the project, said Mayor Derek Corrigan at Monday's council meeting.

He was referring to the 12-member community consultation committee led by Liberals MLAs Harry Bloy (Burnaby-Lougheed) and Richard Lee (Burnaby-North).

As reported in the NewsLeader, the group has been criticized for including three doctors and a former Liberal riding president for Burnaby-Edmonds (Pamela Gardner), but no front-line nurses nor representatives from the City of Burnaby.

The latter was particularly surprising as city hall will ultimately be involved on issues of land use and rezoning. Council has also publicly stated that it would prefer that the hospital be relocated to the former Willingdon Youth Detention Centre site, to allow for collaboration with B.C. Institute of Technology across the street.

Instead, city hall staff will be dealing directly with staff from those official bodies charged with planning the hospital's future, Corrigan said.

"I think what we will be doing is responding on a technical level through those committees established by the Ministry of Health, Fraser Health, and the [Burnaby] Hospital Foundation," he told council Monday. "And then anything individual politicians want to do to consult with the political organization you can feel free to do."

City staff have also discussed with ministry staff alternative locations for a new hospital, such as the one at Willingdon and Canada Way, which is also owned by the province.

"The actual land the hospital is on was given to the provincial government by the city for hospital use 60 years ago and so that land must be used for hospital use," Corrigan explained. "So we'll be in consultation on that issue."

Coun. Nick Volkow scoffed that the letter from the MLA-led committee to city hall begins, "Dear bylaw department, City of Burnaby."

Coun. Colleen Jordan noted the letter asks for any written submissions that are longer than three pages to include an executive summary "because I guess three pages is too long."

Corrigan stressed there are two processes going on at the same time—the official one with staff from the ministry, health authority and hospital foundation, and a second one led by politicians.

"That is the one that has three-page reports that are to be received—I suppose reflecting the attention span of politicians—instead of the more comprehensive consultations that will be going on with the Fraser Health region," Corrigan said.

"I want to assure everyone we will be engaged on a technical level throughout this process."

Neither Harry Bloy nor Richard Lee could be reached for comment before the NewsLeader's deadline.

Dr. David Jones, the consultation committee's spokesperson, said it didn't matter to him whether the MLA-led group is official or not.

"We're not working at odds," he said of the concurrent processes. "I hope what we can do is contribute to the decisions that need to be made."

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