Harrison residents say no to tax-funded medical clinic

The clinic would have brought a doctor and nurse practitioner to the village once a week

A medical clinic will not be coming to Harrison Hot Springs, after about 25 per cent of residents shared their opposition to using additional taxes to pay for the service.

Back in June, Harrison Hot Springs staff were approached by Fraser Health about the possibility of opening a medical clinic in the community.

This clinic would by jointly funded by Fraser Health and the village, with Harrison residents contributing a total of $36,000 a year, paid for out of property taxes.

The clinic would be open one day a week, and would have a doctor and nurse practitioner on site. As time went on, it’s possible more staff would have been added to the clinic.

RELATED: Harrison considers using taxes to help fund medical clinic

At the time, staff estimated the average cost would be around $20.33 a year for an average residential property of $500,000, and would represent about a 1.8 per cent increase in property taxes.

To gauge community interest in the idea, the village began an Alternative Approval Process (AAP), where residents who opposed the plan would submit an official form to the village.

The AAP closed on Sept. 16. At that time, the village had received 318 response forms in opposition to the project. There were also 12 forms that were considered ineligible to be counted, as they were incomplete or did not gain the consent of all owners for a particular property.

“It clearly indicates to me at this particular time, using property taxes to assist in the funding of a local medical clinic is not desired,” councillor Michie Vidal said, appearing at the Tuesday council meeting (Oct. 1) via telephone.

In general, council said they were surprised at the high level of opposition to the clinic.

“In the last several months I was approached by many people in the community who came up to me and told me they were opposed to it,” councillor Gerry Palmer said. “I expected to hear from people who told me they were supportive of it, and I heard from no one. So that quite honestly surprised me.”

Mayor Leo Facio agreed.

“The whole idea was the try and keep it in-house if we could,” Facio said.

“It was only going to start off with one doctor, one nurse practitioner, but of course things build up. That’s how Agassiz built up from one doctor to it now has a whole clinic.”

RELATED: Agassiz Community Health Centre welcomes its newest doctor

“There are communities out there who are giving incentives beyond anything like this,” he continued. “I feel sorry that this is not moving forward, but the approval process has been carried out.”

Council voted to send a letter to Fraser Health indicating they would not go through with the partnership agreement for a medical clinic in the village.



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

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