Press items - 2011:

Rooks signs title papers to transfer ownership of Clinic property to Foundation

Derek Kilbourn, Gabriola Sounder, Monday, December 5, 2011

Dr. Bob Rooks has signed the papers to legally transfer the title of the Clinic property on Church Street over to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation.

While the subdivision and re-zoning of the property had been approved by the Local Trust Committee last term, the actual title has not changed hands (yet) from Bob’s ownership to the Foundation.

Guided by local Gabriola lawyer Murray Grant and in front of a large number of witnesses at Mad Rona’s Coffee Bar, Bob signed the title documents. It is expected to take about a week for the paperwork to be finished and the title to be officially in the hands of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation.

Bob said he was happy to see the title finally getting in to the hands of the Foundation. “I’m just glad I could help. This is a great project, it helps us all and I’m pleased I could help.

“I’m a very small part of this. There are a lot of people who have worked very very hard to make this happen. I knew we’d get it done.”

Foundation President Jill Adamson said, “This is a watershed moment. It kind of gets rid of the doubting Thomas’ we’ve had. It proves that Dr. Bob Rooks is an honourable man who keeps his promises. We never doubted him.”

After the signing the group went up to the clinic site for a tour of the construction. The metal roof is expected to be installed in this next week and volunteers were busy inside getting started on the sprinkler system and wiring. Volunteer coordinator John Campbell had high praise for everyone who’s been helping on the site, echoed by Jill, who said, “The clinic is amazing and I’m totally astounded how far we’ve gotten along. The guys have worked in every weather, standing under Niagrara Falls to get things done. The volunteerism on this is just mind blowing.”

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Customer patronage programs continue to give to Health Care

Gabriola Sounder, Nancy Nevison, GHCF Auxiliary Chair Monday, November 29, 2011

As we come to the end of our Year of the Clinic campaign I can’t help but think it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of some island businesses that have set up “Customer Patronage Programs” that will ensure funds continue to be directed to the foundation in the years to come.

Showing support of our many events certainly paved the way for raising huge amounts of money. Then what will happen? I can tell you, the auxiliary will slow down their fundraising activities, but not their volunteerism, as we are already exploring the possibility of Meals on Wheels and Drivers to Doctors.

Two island companies have really embraced and encouraged the auxiliary and both have extended their continuing efforts into the future.

First, the Mid Island Co-op inspired people who have a member number to use the foundation’s #611459 – allowing 100 per cent of their redeemable benefits to be donated. Every time you shop or top up at the pumps you help. Now the Co-op has introduced a way home account users can also donate their benefits. Just by dropping in to the Volunteers’ Office (before Jan. 29, 2011) and signing your name to a “transfer sheet,” you will be instructing the Co-op Accounting Office to redirect 100 per cent of your home benefits. We estimate to receive over $10,000 for 2010 ... and it just keeps on growing.

Second is the Village Food Market Community Program, where each time you top up your prepaid purchasing card the foundation receives 5 per cent ($100 minimum). For the first three months of this program we received $1,390!

There are several smaller businesses also allowing you to buy and donate – without dipping into your pocket twice! To show our sincere thanks, every time you show proof of purchase (at the Volunteers’ Office Dec. 1-17) we will enter your name into our Christmas Basket Raffle! (Raffle draw is Dec. 18).

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GHCF receives $100,000 securities donation

Gabriola Sounder, Judith Graham, Gabriola Health Care Foundation Monday, November 21, 2011

Our community health care building project has received a huge boost as we move toward the final stages in fundraising.

A very generous Gabriolan family has chosen the Gabriola Health Care Foundation as the recipient of a securities gift-in-kind worth over $100,000. We received the following note from the donors, who prefer to remain anonymous:

“We have been long-time supporters of the initiative for a new clinic building. Since we had some shares that had significantly appreciated in value, we realized that we could donate these shares now to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation and avoid future capital gains tax. We are happy to contribute toward the fundraising campaign’s big push toward its final goal.”

The Canadian Income Tax system supports the generosity of individuals who support charitable causes by the elimination of capital gains tax on gifts of securities to charity.

Usually, one half of a capital gain is subject to tax; with gifts of publicly listed securities, that amount is eliminated when the gift is made to a registered charitable organization. The benefits include:

• Immediate donation receipt for fair market value of security

• Favourable reductions in capital gains taxation

• Charity pays no tax on sale

• Gifts can be given during donor’s lifetime or after, through their estate.

So, planning your charitable gift can take advantage of charitable tax incentives, and can be done to coincide with tax events from the disposition of assets, lifetime events and your overall financial and estate plan.

Any charitable donation is especially sweet because each dollar of tax revenue that doesn’t go to the government results in $2.25 that is put to good work in our local community.

“While we have received a number of donations of securities, this one exceeds the others by far. We are most grateful,” said Jill Adamson, GHCF President.

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A Gift That Will Keep On Giving: A Helipad For The Gabriola Medical Clinic

Gabriola Sounder Katherine Gordon, Gabriola Ambulance Society, Monday, November 14, 2011

The Gabriola Ambulance Society is delighted to announce it is giving the Gabriola Health Care Foundation $10,000 to build a helipad adjacent to the new community-funded and -owned medical clinic that is currently under construction on Church Road.

“A helipad will be of enormous benefit to everyone on Gabriola,” said Gabriola Ambulance Society President, Christina Colbourne. “Because we are on an island, it’s vital to have the capability to move someone with a life-threatening condition to a hospital as fast as possible.”

Gabriola Health Care Foundation President, Jill Adamson, added, “Currently helicopters have to land on a sports field in the centre of the island. Having a properly lit, well-built helipad right next to the clinic will be a huge boon to the emergency medical care system on Gabriola.”

Since 1969, the not-for-profit Gabriola Ambulance Society has provided short-term medical equipment loans and help with temporary home assistance costs, as well as reimbursement for ambulance costs to its Gabriola and Mudge Islands membership. The Gabriola Health Care Foundation, with a membership comprised of Gabriola Islanders, was created in 2006 with the vision of building a community-owned urgent care facility along with an associated primary care medical clinic as an essential component of the long-term safety, health and well-being of all residents of and visitors to Gabriola Island.

This is not the first gift by the ambulance society to the medical clinic cause. In 2009 it donated $25,000 to support the construction fund. “We hope that this additional gift, which is specifically for the helipad, will add continuing vigour to the foundation’s general fundraising efforts to complete the clinic,” said Tawny Maclachlan Capon, past president of the ambulance society and instigator of the helipad gift idea.

“The ambulance society’s gift is deeply appreciated and will certainly be of great help in our continuing fundraising efforts,” confirmed Jill.

“We look forward to celebrating the completion of the helipad with everyone on Gabriola in the near future.”

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GAS donation fuels clinic helipad account

Flying Shingle, Monday, November 14, 2011

“The Gabriola Ambulance Society (GAS) is delighted to announce it is giving the Gabriola Health Care Foundation $10,000 to build a helipad adjacent to the new community-funded and owned medical clinic that is currently under construction on Church Street”.

So began an emailed announcement by the GAS and timed to coincide with a similar message delivered at their Tuesday Annual General Meeting.

GAS Treasurer Mori Mostow expanded: “Everyone knows that we have needed a helipad on Gabriola for years, and the society is delighted to be able to provide the funds to get one built, exactly where it should be — close to the new clinic and the BC Ambulance station. Thanks to our past president Tawny MacLachlan Capon for the idea, which our Board considered rather inspired. Unfortunately, Tawny is away and so can’t be here today to present the cheque”.

Asked if the donation will come out of membership fees, Mostow said all such GAS donations come from an investment portfolio the society has “thanks primarily to a generous bequest made several decades ago”. She added that the membership fee “is set to cover only projected operating expenses”.

Donations from the investment portfolio come “either from the interest generated or from the capital itself”, Mostow said, adding that because the GAS mission “is to contribute to the health and welfare of our community, not to grow an investment portfolio” the society has made a number of donations to improve health care for Gabriolans.

“Our support of the new medical clinic is consistent with that mission”, Mostow said. “We helped the Gabriola Health Care Foundation kick off its 2010 ‘Year of the Clinic’ fundraising campaign with a $25,000 donation. We hope that our additional gift of $10,000 for the helipad will inspire other donors to give generously to help the Foundation raise the remaining funds it needs to complete the new clinic”.

Jill Adamson, president of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation, accepted the cheque on the society’s behalf, Mostow said, “and then she and Brenda Fowler, President of the Gabriola Health Care Society, gathered with the GAS Board members for a photo”.

Mostow added that she hadn’t expected Fowler to attend, “otherwise I would have invited both her and Jill to accept the cheque”.

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Clinic rezoning approved by Trust Committee

Derek Kilbourn Gabriola Sounder -- Tuesday, August 2 2011

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee has approved bylaws 260 and 261 to rezone the 4.5 acres of land donated to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation by Dr. Bob Rooks, from Forestry to Institutional 4.

After being given permission to do so by Trust Committee Chair Louise Bell, supporters in the room on Thursday afternoon last week broke out in applause and cheering and thanked the LTC for approving the Clinic rezoning application.

Trustee Sheila Malcolmson made the motions to adopt the bylaws which will amend both the Official Community Plan and Land Use Bylaw for Gabriola.

She said, “I want to thank the community groups that initiated this and all the people who gave input. We had 718 separate inputs, which is a record as far as I can remember. All of it was valuable.”

She thanked those who were critical of the application saying, “It was important with such a grassroots popular application to get critical input.”

She said one of the concerns received was the island was losing park potential.

“The mechanism for density transfer has been available in the community for more than 15 years. The potential to turn that into park hadn’t been done yet. [We] still have the potential of transferring three densities off that [remaining parcel].”

Through the covenant provided on the property, there is a conservation requirement on the clinic property which will require landscaping and environmentally friendly construction.

Sheila said, “Preserve and protect is about the communities and the amenities of the communities, not only about ecology. I do see this as being consistent with the [Islands Trust] mandate.”

Brenda Fowler, President of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation said, “I’d like to thank everyone in the community for their participation in the process [and] for their comments and letters and financial support.”

She thanked Dr. Rooks, who was in attendance for the final approval, saying, “His gift gives us the opportunity to attract and retain doctors. That is the goal. Attract them to stay.”

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RDN Board approves $10,000 grant for Clinic permit

Derek Kilbourn Gabriola Sounder -- Tuesday, August 2 2011

The 2012 budget of the Regional District of Nanaimo will include a one-time increase of $10,000 to the Regional District Grants-in-Aid service to be provided as a grant to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation to offset the cost of a building permit for the Clinic project.

Gisele Rudischer, Director for Electoral Area B (Gabriola) made the motion at the latest RDN Board meeting last week, based on recommendations from RDN staff.

The grant will offset 50 per cent of the estimated $20,000 building permit required for the Community Clinic being built by the Health Care Foundation on Church Road.

As specified, the monies for the grant would be collected from the entire Regional District, not just the Electoral Area B (Gabriola) budget.

David Bartram, Director, Electoral Area H (Shaw Hill, Deep Bay, Bowser) asked, “Why is this any different than a community hall or the other kinds of things which are funded within the community?”

Carol Mason, RDN Chief Administrative Officer explained there were two options, either a grant-in-aid from the electoral area or from the region.

“The unique aspect of this facility is it is privately built and run. If it were VIHA-run, it would certainly fall within our hospital function.”

Bartram said, “I just put forward a motion to paint a community hall; I’m not sure why it is different. I’m afraid I can’t support the motion as stated.”

Rudischer pointed out she was asking for support from the region because the clinic’s impact is felt by the region.

“It may not be used by all people in the region, but there is a decrease in the number who show up in the hospital.... Very many people don’t end up in the hospital and that is funded by the regional district.”

Director Jim Kipp (representing City of Nanaimo) asked what the cost would be to the regional district taxpayers.

Chair Joe Stanhope said the cost would be $0.03 per $100,000 on assessment.

Kipp said, “That gets to my point. It is a $10,000 grant. Gabriola has been under-serviced and I suggest we fear this because of downloading.

“We get huge dollar value when we invest in a non-governmental organization. Don’t forget, some Decembers VIHA looks for millions. This I think is valuable and shows our regional support for Gabriola. I support this motion; they are giving back.”

Chair Stanhope said, “I support it. For three cents per hundred thousand, I don’t think we can turn it down.”

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Clinic bylaw receives final approval

Flying Shingle, Monday, August 1, 2011

Amid loud applause, a bylaw to rezone four acres from Forestry to Institutional 4 for use as a community-owned urgent treatment room and medical offices received final approval Thursday.

At the Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting at the WI Hall, Planner Kaitlin Kazmierowski said the last obstacle to the final reading of the new bylaw had been hurdled earlier that week, with the registration of a covenant that addresses greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, a statutory right of way on the clinic lands, landscaping, and pedestrian and bike paths.

Summing up the rezoning process, Trustee Sheila Malcolmson noted a number of changes that had been made to the bylaw in response to community feedback. These included: confirmation that community care facilities are not allowed on the property; that an onsite helicopter pad would be for emergency use only; that a medical lab will be a function of the medical office use; that the clinic will be required to provide medical service plan services; that the clinic will serve the needs of the Gabriola Local Trust Area; that the new lot cannot be subdivided; clarification that the rezoning of the Forestry lot is an exception to the Official Community Plan; and requirement for a covenant which “locked in the landscaping proposals”.

Malcolmson said there were also “a number of zoning issues raised by the public that we didn’t take up”, including a concern that “we are losing park potential on the island”. She said that the park potential of the lot has been present but unrealised for over 15 years. She added that the potential still exists for the other lots in that area, that as Forestry zoned land, the lots don’t have conservation elements attached to them, and that there are still 10 Forest zoned acreages available on Gabriola.

In response to submissions that the rezoning is not consistent with the “preserve and protect mandate of the Islands Trust”, Malcolmson said the mandate is about “the communities and the amenities of the communities, not only our ecology”. She also addressed a suggestion that there should have been a referendum on this issue, saying that referendums on zoning issues are non-binding.

Malcolmson said that there were a number of concerns raised about the clinic by community members which zoning cannot address, including whether the clinic would be sold to private interests, competition with the other medical clinic, the location of the intended site, and the motivation of the land donor. She said the LTC must make decisions based on zoning, and on the application presented to them, and added that the GHCF did make an effort to ensure that any future sale of the clinic be okayed by the community.

Regarding a concern that the process was too fast and had a negative impact on other LTC business, Malcolmson conceded that the Official Community Plan review process suffered as a result of the decision to fast-track the clinic application. She said while the nine months it took to process the application was fast, she would have slowed it down if she had any concerns.

Both Malcolmson and LTC Chair Louise Bell thanked everyone for their feedback, and GHCF President Brenda Fowler thanked community members for their support.

Fowler also said that the foundation still needs to raise $400,000. GHCF said recently that they have raised over $1 million to date.

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RDN grants $10,000 to clinic

Flying Shingle, Monday, August 1, 2011

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) board has agreed to give a grant-in-aid of $10,000 to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) towards the cost of a building permit for a community-owned urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical office.

As previously reported, the GHCF, which has been fund-raising to build the community clinic, applied to the board to have 50 per cent of building permit application fees waived. The GHCF estimated the fees could cost up to $20,000.

At their July 12 committee-of-the-whole meeting, RDN board members said that, while they supported the community’s efforts to build the clinic, waiving the permit fees would be in contravention of a policy against doing so. They directed staff to find an alternative source of funds.

Director Gisele Rudischer said Wednesday that staff outlined two possible sources for a grant-in-aid at Tuesday’s board meeting: a levy on Gabriolan residents of 90 cents per $100,000 of property value, or to levy the entire regional district for the funds. The latter option would cost three cents per $100,000 of property value, Rudischer said. She said she moved the latter option as a resolution to the board.

Rudischer said Dave Bartram of Area H, (Bowser) said the community clinic had no regional significance, and asked how it was different from a community hall that his community had paid for themselves. Rudischer responded that thanks to the UTR, the regionally funded Nanaimo Regional General Hospital receives fewer visits from Gabriolans, and the UTR is therefore an indirect benefit to the region.

Gabriolans also agreed to financially support the Port Theatre, Rudischer said, even before the Gabriola ferry’s last run was late enough to ensure that Gabriolans could stay to the end of Port Theatre events. She added Wednesday that without the Gabriola vote, the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection initiative would not have passed. She said this was a program about which the regional district is justifiably proud.

Rudischer said Nanaimo Councillor Jim Kipp, who supported her resolution, said in conversation before the meeting, that the UTR also saves on ferry callouts. She said Kipp, a former Gabriola resident, was lobbied by a number of Gabriolans to support the funding.

RDN board Chair Joe Stanhope also supported her resolution, Rudischer said. She thought his support helped weigh the vote in the resolution’s favour.

Rudischer said she would not have asked to put the entire grant-in-aid on the whole Gabriolan tax base without first asking Gabriolans whether they are willing to pay taxes towards the clinic.

She didn’t know when the grant-in-aid will come through for the clinic.

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RDN to seek funds to off-set Clinic Building Permit Fees

Derek Kilbourn Gabriola Sounder -- Monday, July 18, 2011

The Regional District of Nanaimo Board has asked staff to find funding to off-set 50% of the cost of the building permit fee for the Gabriola Health and Urgent Care Clinic, rather than set a precedent in waiving 50% of the fee itself.

Building permit fees for the Clinic are estimated to be between $10,000 and $20,000, as confirmed by Paul Thorkelsson General Manager, Development Services.

At the latest RDN Board Committee of a Whole meeting, Konrad Mauch, representing the Gabriola Health Care Foundation, requested the Regional District of Nanaimo Board approve a 50% reduction in the RDN Building Permit Fee for the Gabriola Health and Urgent Care Clinic.

Gisele Rudischer, RDN Director for Area B (Gabriola) spoke in favour of the request as originally worded, to waive 50% of the fee saying it might set a precedent, “but maybe it should. Maybe we should be looking at applications such as these individually and judging them based on merit and importance to the community.”

She pointed out the Gabriola Local Trust Committee waived 50% of the re-zoning fees for the Clinic project. The amount of that waiving was $2,250, which came from the LTC local expense account.

Gisele said, “At a time when higher levels of government are downloading costs and responsibilities there should be some recognition of the important role volunteer organizations have in the provision of much-needed services

“Our small community of less than 5,000 people has raised over a million dollars in cash and work in kind in support of this project – and I’m asking you to show our support as well.”

The Regional District of Nanaimo anticipates a $130,000 surplus from the Building Permit fees this year to go in to the Reserve Fund.

Two years ago, the RDN was forced to lay off two building inspectors after costs overran what was collected in building permit fees.

To avoid such a situation happening again, the RDN adopted a user-pay approach to building inspection.

RDN Director Bill Holdom, Deputy Board Chair (City of Nanaimo) pointed this out saying, “anytime we [waive fees] we’re asking the rest of the Electoral Areas to pay for the remaining costs that are required to be covered by this.”

RDN Director Diana Johnstone (City of Nanaimo) asked if there had ever been waiving of fees in the past.

Carol Mason, Chief Administrative Officer said, “No. We have been requested by non-profits, fire departments and have never done so. What is unique of this project is there are no taxpayers dollars going in to this.”

She suggested what could be done is to look for a grant for Gabriola to off-set the costs to the facility rather than waiving the building inspection fees.

RDN Director Jim Kipp (City of Nanaimo) suggested the Foundation pay the full permit cost, so there is not a precedent set and the RDN look for a way to make a donation back to the Clinic. Jim said, “$10,000 isn’t much for the 5,000 people over there and we can donate from some other fund we have.”

RDN Director David Bartram (Electoral Area H: Shaw Hill, Deep Bay, Bowser) said he supported the motion for all the reasons Gisele spoke of and asked if he could amend the motion to give staff to look for alternative ways to make the funding possible.

Carol said that would be her suggestion, “give us some leeway. It is clear the Board supports the project, it is just a question of where the money comes from.”

The Board voted unanimously in favour of seeking alternative funding.

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Clinic approval awaits signature of covenant

Flying Shingle, Monday, July 18, 2011

The final step before adopting a new bylaw that will make way for a Community-owned urgent treatment room and medical offices should soon be completed.

At their June 28 Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting at the WI Hall, a fourth reading and adoption of the bylaw was on the agenda, but was temporarily postponed pending completion of a covenant to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Chair Louise Bell explained that the committee was unable to proceed as the completion of the covenant is a condition for the bylaw receiving final approval.

Contacted for comment, Planner Kaitlin Kazmierowski said that the Gabriola Health Care Foundation and Islands Trust lawyers were in discussion to ensure the covenant will be effective. She said the process “shouldn’t take much longer” but “we are still working out the details and nothing has been signed yet”.

In a Tuesday update Kazmierowski said the covenant “has been signed by Dr. Rooks and is now in the office awaiting signature from the LTC”.

Asked about a “cost recovery” provision for the covenant, Kazmierowski explained that the foundation had agreed to cover the cost of consulting the Trust lawyers.

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Community Clinic - RDN waves off waiver, may help in other ways

Flying Shingle, Monday, July 18, 2011

Rather than granting a request to waive 50 per cent of building permit fees, the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) board Tuesday asked staff to research other ways to support Gabriola’s community-owned urgent treatment room and medical offices.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting at the RDN chambers in Nanaimo, Konrad Mauch, of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) said that the estimated RDN building permits fees – between $10,000 and $20,000 for the $1.3-1.4 million building – would be too much of a burden on the donation-funded project. “Every dollar we don’t have to spend is very important to us at this stage. We are running a very tight budget”, Mauch said.

In support of the request, Director Giselle Rudischer said: “Our small community of less than 5,000 people has raised over a million dollars in cash and work-in-kind in support of this project – and I’m asking you to show your support as well”.

However, Director George Holme said that the board had had “significant discussions” about building inspection costs and had decided they would insist everyone pay the fees to cover the cost of the service. He worried that waiving the fees now would undermine the board’s policy.

“Any time we do this, even for the best of causes, we’re asking the rest of the electoral area to pay for the remaining costs that are required to be covered. It seems like we spent some time coming to a principle of how we’re going to assess fees and this would be a significant test to this principle”, Holme said.

RDN Chief Administrative Officer Carol Mason said that there could be better ways to assist the project than to waive the permit fee. “One alternative that might be considered is looking for some sort of grant for Gabriola to offset costs for the health care facility”.

Director Jim Kipp suggested “the way we don’t set a precedent. (GHCF) actually pays the fee, but we donate, and show … support from the regional district by donating $10,000 from some other fund we have”.

“It’s clear that the board supports the project, it’s just ‘where does the money come from?’”, Mason said.

While the board supported this approach, Director Marc Lefebvre added: “I’m concerned about the long-term operating, maintenance, repair and capital costs. I would suggest that the folks running this look seriously into how that building is going to be kept maintained and operated for the next 20 or 30 or 40 years”.

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Ground broken on Gabriola Health Care Clinic -- Over $100,000 in donations received at ceremony, including $50,000 from Dr. Bob Rooks

Derek Kilbourn Gabriola Sounder -- Monday, June 6, 2011

After seven years of fundraising, planning, preparing and plenty of blood, sweat and tears, the Gabriola Health Care Foundation broke ground (ceremonially of course) on the Gabriola Health Care Clinic this past Saturday afternoon at the top of Church Street.

Roughly 300 people gathered together on the prepared site of the clinic, which had been landscaped and ‘treed’ thanks to the donation of materials from Kent at Wild Rose Nursery.

Food, water and other supplies were provided courtesy the Boulton and Gray farms, Village Food Market and Robert’s Place.

The ceremony opened with Gail Lund and the Island Singers performing Islanders.

The groundbreaking had to be considered ‘ceremonial’ because until the re-zoning application for the property is approved by the Islands Trust, the land remains in title to the donor Dr. Bob Rooks.

Total of donations received at ceremony

    - $3,600 from Tour de Gabriola

    - $4,000 from Mid-Island Co-op

    - $5,000 from Gabriolans through the Co-op clinic number, with $2,500 more to be paid out this coming November

    - $1,000 from Kent and Sandy from Wild Rose Nursury

    - $50,000 from Dr. Bob Rooks

Plus an additional $38,000 received from numerous donors during the day.

Brenda Fowler, Health Care Foundation President, announced at the start of the speeches that she had spoken with the Minister’s staff on Thursday last week and Minister Ida Chong has signed off on the re-zoning of the Clinic property.

Brenda said, “we all have taken the Minister’s signature as the milestone that we were working towards.”

All that remains now is a fourth and final reading of the application for the re-zoning by the Local Trust Committee - who’s next meeting will be on June 28th.

Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan said the Foundation should, “never letting the goal slip from their view. Not only does this empower the community, but people’s lives have been saved by the temporary clinic and it will only become better with the new clinic. Communities deserve the support of their government. We’ve met with the minister and we will ensure the government does support this with operational funding.”

Don Butt spoke on behalf of the Gabriola Lions, explaining it was Harvey Graham, Lawrence Spero and the late Fred Geator who shared the vision of the Foundation at a meeting of the Lions Club, “and ignited the fire in our bellies.”

Since then, through a multitude of fundraising options including the annual Concert on the Green, the Gabriola Lions have donated $105,278 to the Foundation.

Drs. Tracey Thorne and Francois Bosman, who both practice in the interim clinic and respond to emergency calls spoke.

Tracey said, “one of the many reasons I picked Gabriola was because of the vision of a primary health care clinic that would provide for everyone the services you need to remain healthy.

“The other aspect of this clinic is the emergency care.”

She credited the community of Gabriola for making it all possible though.

“No matter which doctors work here in the future, this clinic is here because of you.”

Francois said, “I am so proud and grateful to be have been a part of this on this island. There is a sense of community that I have not felt anywhere else in Canada. People here want to look after themselves, they are interested in their own health. To determine the vision of your own health I can only commend the people.”

Jacquie Baird spoke, representing the Gabriola Ambulance Society saying, “I’ve worked as a paramedic on the island for seven years. Having the interim clinic at the Twin Beaches and having the doctors on call has made our life and the health care on the island amazing. Unlike Nanaimo, we can’t call for another ambulance, our backup is the doctors. Seeing the grassroots of making this happen is amazing.”

Bruce Mason was invited to speak about the early days of the Health Care Foundation. He recalled it was Nov. 2, 2006 that, “a remarkable group of volunteers responded to a call in the Sounder to get together and try and improve health care on the island. Tracy Der, Dr. Dale Hoffman, Harvey Graham, Lawrence Spero and the late Fred Geator.”

Bruce said the easiest thing ever done was choosing Fred as the first President of what would evolve to become the Health Care Society. He asked the audience to recognize Harvey Graham for all of Harvey’s hard work done from day one to current day to bring the Clinic to fruition.

Bruce remembered, after he and Fred had driven around the island to speak to people to gauge support for a clinic, Fred said words that stick to him to this day.

“Gabriolans will build this clinic.”

Bruce added when Fred stepped down as President of the Health Care Society Fred said, “Gabriolans step up to the plate when they realize something is the right thing to do. Gabriolans are not looking for a hand out.”

Fred passed away in February of this year.

His widow Marilyn Geator, who for many years served as chair of the Health Care Auxiliary, was presented with a certificate of appreciation by Bruce on behalf of the Health Care Society and Foundation.

Marilyn said, “this is a great honour for our family. Fred never doubted that this would happen. I think Fred would be very well pleased with what has happened.”

Brenda Fowler introduced the next donor.

“A nice gentleman who always has overalls on and a white beard.

“Dr. Bob Rooks, who has given a gift of land, a gift that is a legacy gift. Every single person on this island will benefit from this gift. And this morning, Bob wrote a cheque for $50,000.”

Brenda asked Dr. Rooks to come forward as the audience clapped, saying, “Now let’s break that sod and build a clinic!”

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Health Society breaks ground, $1 million mark

Flying Shingle, Monday, June 6, 2011

Even the weather co-operated Saturday for the ground breaking ceremony for the urgent treatment room and medical clinic that the Gabriola Health Care Society intends to build at the top of Church Street.

Society President Brenda Fowler told the crowd that not only has the society received ministerial approval to go ahead with the rezoning, but they collected over $100,000 at the event putting their building fund at $1 million.

Left to right, Don Butt, Nancy Nevison, Robert Rooks, Brenda Fowler, and Doug Routley “turn the sod” at Saturday’s ground breaking ceremony. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

Gordy and Laurie McDonald hanging out at the cake table. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

Reporter Bruce Mason wrote reams of copy for the clinic. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

Doctors Francois Bosman and Tracey Throne express their appreciation. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

Speechifying versus warm sunny day ... ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

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Two Islands taking care of healthcare

Islands Tides, June 2, 2011

Hornby Island’s new state-of-the-art Community Clinic is designed to serve an Island population that balloons to over 5,000 in the summer (from 1,100). ~ Photo by Oakley Rankin

Hornby Health Clinic Opening

Hornby Islanders are invited to the Official Opening of the new community–built Health Clinic on Saturday, June 4 at 1pm.

There will be a ribbon–cutting ceremony, guest speakers, tours of the new facility, and homemade carrot cake with creamcheese icing!

‘We want to open it up to to the community and let them enjoy it,’ said Jeff Pollitt of the Hornby New Clinic Committee. ‘People can come and see it when they are not sick and ask questions.’

In two years, $350,000 was raised, with the balance of the $523,000 needed for the building coming from in-kind donations and a lot of hard work by a 200-strong team of volunteers led by a committee of 12 dedicated residents. There was no public funding provided by the government.

Local doctors, locums, residents and visitors will benefit from a functional, well-designed clinic; the 35-year-old trailer they were coping with desperately needed replacing.

They will now be able to get a gurney into the building!

Breaking Ground on Gabriola

The Gabriola Health Care Foundation’s ‘Ground Breaking Ceremony’ for their new clinic building site is also set for Saturday, June 4, from 12-2pm, rain or shine.

Gabriola declared 2010 the Year of the Clinic and went to work to raise the $1 million they need to build a new Urgent Care & Medical Clinic—again without government or corporate funding.

So far, they have raised almost $750,000, 4.1 acres of prime location property were donated and there are numerous work pledges from builders, tradespeople,labourers and landscapers. The Islands Trust approved the rezoning bylaws to allow for a change from Forestry to IN4.

A barbeque, cake and photo opportunities will accompany the sense of accomplishment on another little island with a big idea.

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Be Part of History

Al and Lou Strano, Tour de GabriolaMay 16, 2011

The seventh Tour de Gabriola Bike Ride will be held on Sunday, May 29th.

On Saturday, June 4th, the ceremonial groundbreaking for Gabriola’s permanent clinic will be held. All Gabriolans can be considered owners of this facility; it has been a community facility from the beginning. This proud effort has been fueled by various fundraising events, it has not increased taxes and receives more benefits from our tax dollars because of VIHA participation. Knowing that you don’t need to take the ferry immediately in an emergency helps ease the stress and prepares the way for appropriate action. In many cases, Gabriolans now receive much of their health care without leaving the island.

The clinic benefits all generations and participation in the Tour de Gabriola should reflect that. The Twin Beaches to Orlebar Point circuit is ideal for families with young and old riders and those who might wish to walk or run. The traditional ride around the island is a little more of a challenge, but we know kids as young as 8 years old who have accomplished this. But, you don’t need to ride, you may sponsor a rider, make a donation or ride a horse -- use your imagination. In years to come, when you look at the clinic, you will know that you were part of history.

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Clinic construction budget set at $1.3 million - $900,000 raised so far as site preparation begins

Gabriola Sounder, Derek Kilbourn, derek@soundernews.comMay 16, 2011

The estimated cost of the Gabriola Medical Clinic has been set at $1,378,000 of which the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) has $900,000.00 raised or pledged.

In a press release, Brenda Fowler, President of the GHCF said, “When the initial budget was put together we always talked about it as “about” a million dollars.

“With the decision on the building design made, the committee has been able to refine our construction budget – and like any other building project there are some increases, due to unforeseen expenses.”

She cited the building code requirement for sprinklers for the current proposed building type and seismic structural work and post disaster requirements are added features.

The early examination of the site has been a three month long design process.

The Foundation committee has made the decision to build a smaller building footprint but to incorporate a basement. The proposed clinic site is on a small hill and the basement potential presented itself as a logical step.

Currently, the Foundation is in the midst of a re-zoning application for the 4.5 acres on the north end of Church Street. Both the Official Community Plan (OCP) and Land-Use Bylaw (LUB) amendments have been approved by the Islands Trust Executive Committee.

The OCP amendment is now on provincial Minister Ida Chong’s desk, awaiting her approval.

If Minister Chong approves the OCP amendment, both it and the LUB amendments will come back to the Gabriola Local Trust Committee for final reading and possible approval.

Until then, as Brenda said, the work going on at the site is work which is allowed under the current property zoning of forestry.

She said, “the Building Committee is busy preparing the site in anticipation of final zoning approvals, building permits and a summer filled with teams “raising the roof” of the new community-owned Medical Clinic.”

On the fundraising side of things, the Gabriola Health Care volunteer office in the Village is going full swing for the summertime, with ice cream and popcorn available for purchase.

“Everyone can help with the remaining $450,000,” explained Brenda.

“Over the next few weeks each home will receive a letter inviting residents of Gabriola to participate in the fundraising.

“If you buy groceries at the Village Market or gas at the Co-op your purchases can make a difference. If you can donate cash, which is always appreciated – thank you. If you can volunteer some time and energy please come into the Volunteer office and let us know. We want everyone to be able to say “I helped to build the clinic and I’m glad I did!””

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Clinic costs go up, building size reduced

Flying Shingle, Monday, May 16, 2011

The Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) has increased the projected costs of a community clinic that will house an urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical offices.

The society has also reduced both the size and footprint of the plans for the building.

GHCS President Brenda Fowler said this week: “The budget estimate today is $1,377, 540. This is up from an earlier estimate of $1,167, 481”. She added: “Our current building footprint is indeed smaller (about 4300 square feet instead of 4800). The site lends itself to a basement and so we have decided to go with that design, and leave the basement unfinished but available for someday in the future”.

Fowler also said that donations towards the project continue to come in, and “… are now at $867,000”. She was unable to say before press time what proportion of that is volunteered labour from island contractors.

As previously reported, about four years ago, with the help of community donations, GHCS built a temporary UTR and new medical offices at Twin Beaches mall for doctors who once worked out of a clinic next to Mid-Island Co-op on Ross Road. Since then GHCS has been fundraising to raise $1 million to build a permanent clinic, hoping it will attract more doctors to Gabriola. An application to rezone 4.1 acres from Forest to Institutional is nearing completion. The land, which is at the top of Church Street, was donated by Robert Lee Rooks.

Also as previously reported, the rezoning application process was somewhat contentious for a number of reasons, including that the proposed clinic site will be rezoned from Forestry to Industrial. The Official Community Plan speaks against such rezoning as a rule, in part because, due to density transfer provisions in the plan, Forest-zoned land has the potential of being rezoned to Park.

Regarding the changes in budget and plans, Fowler said: “The construction budget numbers are changing, as we get into the site, figure out what the detail engineering requirements are and which building design is best for the future. In fact the numbers may change yet as some of the structural items come in”.

Fowler didn’t remember when they realised the costs would be higher than previously thought. “It was a dawning and a work in progress”, she said, “when we decided to go disaster-proof things got more expensive, and also there were some building code requirements, that we were unaware of when we did our preliminary budgeting (i.e. sprinklers)”.

Fowler said the society has done a “line-by-line” analysis of the budget, “… trying to get the best building for the least amount of dollars”. She said: “The structural engineer thinks some of the numbers may actually go down as the geotech information gets finalised”.

Acknowledging that the society still needs to raise another $501, 400, Fowler said “… the other end of the equation is the donations - which keep coming in along with labour and material gifts”. She said the fundraising committee: “is still actively raising money through requests to corporations and foundations, requests for financial support to island residents … and by contributions of in-kind materials and labour”.

“We have just received approximately $50,000 worth of cabinets, light fixtures, heating ducts, sinks, etc. from the Port Place medical clinic. This is a significant gift and reduces our cash requirements!”

She said: “We are still hopeful that we will be able to raise all of the funds we require”.

At press time Fowler had not responded on how the society intends to proceed if they are not able to raise what they need. In the past they have said a donor is willing to provide them interim financing.

As for their operating expenses, Fowler said: “The Board is confident that we will be able to manage the operational expenses of running our own building. We have gained a lot of experience and knowledge from the last five years at the interim location so we are familiar with the expenses we are likely to incur. We have developed a range of operational scenarios and believe we can manage to meet our expenses going forward".

In terms of how they intend to get the word out about the change in plans and costs, Fowler said the society has “nothing definite in place yet. Newspaper coverage is always good, but sharing information with people face to face has been the focus while we were still deliberating on the options”. She added that “most people are focused on getting the job started”, and were aware that the costs might be higher than the original $1 million estimate.

Fowler said although the building will have a walkout basement, it will be wheelchair accessible.

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Gabriola Health Clinic clears another hurdle

By Rachel Stern - Nanaimo News Bulletin April 5, 2011

Members of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation are celebrating the rezoning approval of the proposed clinic property by the Gabriola Trust.

The bylaw was approved last week, but needs the OK from the Islands Trust executive committee and the province before becoming law. The executive committee meets April 19.

But foundation members are calling it a victory.

“This was a huge hurdle for us to get through,” said Nancy Nevison, chairwoman of the Gabriola Health Care Auxiliary. “It’s been exciting and more than anything I breathed a sigh of relief.”

Sheila Malcolmson, a member of the Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee and Islands Trust council chairwoman, said bylaws are rarely denied after approval at the local trust level.

Malcolmson said there was controversy around changing the proposed clinic location land, located on Church Street, from forestry to institutional.

The trust received 718 separate comments on the process. Malcolmson said about 375 were in favour, 37 were opposed, there was a petition of opposition signed by 68 people and some comments were neutral.

“It wasn’t a unanimous show of community support,” said Malcolmson.

Some comments dealt with issues unrelated to the bylaw, such as the foundation’s structure or that other existing properties could house the clinic.

“No one identified why that specific property wouldn’t be an appropriate location,” said Malcolmson.

Donations have started to pour into the foundation. Brenda Fowler, president of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation, said some donors were waiting for approval before committing money.

“People can now smell the reality of it,” she said.

The foundation has raised $675,000, plus donations of labour and materials. It has $350,000 left to reach its goal of $1 million.

For more information about the foundation, please call 250-325-7215 or go to

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Trustees pass third reading of Community Clinic re-zoning

Gabriola Sounder, Derek Kilbourn, derek@soundernews.comApril 5, 2011

The Gabriola Urgent Care and Medical Clinic is one step closer to being approved, as the Gabriola Local Trust Committee passed third reading on the Clinic application this past Wednesday, March 30.

Specifically, the LTC passed third reading of proposed bylaws 260 and 261 for the proposed clinic to be located at the end of Church Street.

Sheila Malcolmson, Gabriola Trustee and Louise Bell, Gabriola LTC Chair, made some clarification changes to the bylaws after hearing from Gabriolans at a Community Information Meeting and Public Hearing on the bylaws the preceding Monday night.

The LTC also approved motions to have the bylaws move to the next step.

Bylaw 260 to amend the Official Community Plan will go to the Executive Committee of the Islands Trust and if approved there, will then be forwarded to the BC Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

If the Minister approves Bylaw 260, it will then return to the Local Trust Committee where the LTC can then, if it so chooses, adopt the bylaw.

Bylaw 261 to amend the Land-Use Bylaw will follow a similar route, but does not need to go to the Minister.

The Phoenix Auditorium was packed wall to wall on Monday night with concerned members of the public who came out to speak either for or against the bylaws as proposed.

Eric Boulton was one of the speakers in favour of the applications, saying, “Gabriola’s waited 150 years for a permanent clinic and I’ve waited for 63. I don’t want anyone else to wait any longer than that. I support the re-zoning and the use of forestry land. Let’s get on with building this clinic and start next week.”

Some of those speaking against the application said the location was not central enough and there should have been consideration taken in to account by the Health Care Society to choose a location closer in to the Village Core.

Brenda Fowler, Chair of the Gabriola Health Care Society and Foundation, explained the location on Church Street was the best location available for the Society.

“For once, let’s support something that most people support. If we kill this, there won’t be anyone for the next 15 years willing to take on something like this.”
~ Erik Andersen

She explained one reason the Church Street location was favoured was, “there is a need for closeness as well as privacy. People do not wish to visit a clinic where everyone can see how often they go in, this particular site allows that to happen.”

She reiterated what others had said as well, the site is adjacent to both the ambulance and fire hall locations and is much closer to the Ferry and helicopter access points than the current temporary clinic at Twin Beaches.

Erik Anderson was another of the speakers at the Public Hearing saying, “I’m here to speak in support of the proposed bylaw changes. I wasn’t going to say anything tonight. I find I’m getting irritated by the opposition. Our community has a history of stamping down on good ideas.

“For once, let’s support something that most people support. If we kill this, there won’t be anyone for the next 15 years willing to take on something like this.”

During the Community Information Meeting preceding the Public Hearing, Trust staff were asked if there was a tally being kept of ‘for’ and ‘against’ submissions made in regards to the bylaws.

Sheila said the decision does not take only numbers in to account, but on Wednesday she did give a tally of the inputs received by the LTC.

In all, 718 official inputs were received, with 166 speaking against the re-zoning and 538 speaking for it. 14 were unclear on their position.

Sheila said she also looked at whether there were multiple submissions from the same person.

When that was taken in to account, 418 people made submissions on the application, with 375 of those in favour, 37 opposed and 6 who said neither yes or no.

A concern brought up at the hearing by some of those against the re-zoning was that within Gabriola’s OCP, one policy is there will be no subdividing of land zoned as Forestry.

The parent parcel of the 4.1 acres is currently zoned Forestry.

The Trustees were asked that if an exception is being made to an OCP policy, that an explanation or clarification be made clear in bylaws, as even the perception of them ignoring an OCP policy could set a bad precedent.

At the LTC meeting on Wednesday, both Bylaw 260 to amend the OCP and Bylaw 261 to amend the Land Use Bylaw were amended to include policies which clarified that despite the OCP policies, the proposed lot can be subdivided in to a maximum of two lots with those boundaries coinciding with the Forestry and IN4 zones boundaries, with the exception of the road dedication.

Another clarification was included within the amendments, which made it clear that the lot, should it be successfully re-zoned and subdivided, will not ever be able to be further subdivided.

After the Wednesday meeting, Brenda issued a statement on behalf of the Health Care Foundation saying, “What a process! The Foundation would like to thank the 200 people who came out to the Hearing, the 50 people who came regularly to the monthly Trust meetings, the over 500 people who wrote letters, and the half dozen or so organizations that wrote letters on behalf of their members - your engagement, support and interest made the difference. The dialogue concerning the land-use and the role of the clinic in the community was very positive and helpful.

“A very special thank you to the Gabriola Lions who early on had the foresight and showed leadership in supporting this project.

“They stepped forward and got the clinic momentum going.

“The Foundation and volunteers will begin to prepare the building site. We only have $350,000 dollars left to raise. If you would like to contribute please do so, come in to the village volunteer office and see the site plan, floor layout and landscaping ideas.

“Now that the sun is back, ice cream is available again thanks to the generous support of Village Food Market. What a great community we are. Let’s celebrate our good fortune! Living in a place where thoughtful discussion can take place and a better plan and future created as a result.

“Thanks again to everyone who participated!”

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Clinic bylaw passes third reading

Flying Shingle, Monday, April 4 2011

After a few final adjustments, a proposed bylaw meant to make way for a community-owned urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical offices passed third reading at a Wednesday special Local Trust committee (LTC) meeting at the WI Hall.

In response to a request from trustee Sheila Malcolmson at an open house on Monday, Regional Planning Manager Chris Jackson submitted draft language excepting the clinic lot from provisions in the Official Community Plan (OCP) that disallow the subdivision of Forestry (F) zoned lands.

Malcolmson said Wednesday that the question of whether the bylaw contravened the OCP had been raised a number of times over the course of the application. She said that staff had advised that an exception was not necessary because the new lot would be rezoned to Institution 4 before it was severed from the F zone, so when the subdivision occurred no F-zoned lots would be subdivided. However, she said, the LTC received input at their public hearing on Monday that “more specificity was needed”.

The LTC also made a few last minute adjustments to the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) that accompanies and regulates the clinic bylaw. Those adjustments stipulate that the new lot may not be subdivided, and attach a map that delineates the lot to the LUB. Malcolmson said that although staff had said other language in the OCP prevents subdivision of the clinic lot, a further prohibition was being added for insurance.

In the absence of a covenant that is still under construction regarding greenhouse gas emission reductions and landscaping, trustees also added a requirement proposed by Planner Kaitlin Kazmierowski that screening be installed between the clinic parking lots and the roadway.

The LTC also noted that final adoption of the bylaw will be dependent on the completion and submission of the covenant.

LTC Chair Louise Bell acknowledged the “tremendous interest in this community in this set of bylaws”, and commended Gabriolans’ “polite and interesting comments” in their letters and at the public hearing. She said she was pleased with the public hearing – that people listened carefully and the presentations were clear.

Bell said she had no concerns about the new bylaws. She said she did consider the possibility that the application may have moved too quickly, but noted that the LTC could have slowed down the process if they thought it was needed. She thought that because of the proximity of the Northern Office, bylaw information was quickly and easily available to residents, making it possible for Gabriolans to keep up-to-date with what was happening with the application.

Malcolmson thanked all who were involved with the application – particularly those who raised concerns. She acknowledged that it is difficult to oppose popular applications and that such feedback is valuable to the LTC.

After giving third bylaw to both the new policy and bylaw, Trustees moved to send them to the Islands Trust Executive Committee, and to the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

As previously reported, the proposed bylaw makes the UTR the clinic’s principle use. Medical offices are allowed as accessory uses. The application also makes provision for an ambulance station as an “associated use”.

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Malcolmson, Trust staff respond to clinic feedback

Flying Shingle, Monday, April 4 2011

Trustee Sheila Malcolmson responded at a Wednesday Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting to feedback about a proposed bylaw to rezone Forestry lands in preparation for an urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical offices.

The LTC and Trust staff also answered a number of questions about the proposed bylaw at the Haven on Monday at an open house held prior to a public hearing about the clinic bylaw.

During the Monday open house Malcolmson explained that the LTC must focus solely on the proposed use of the land in question. She said that as the LTC must zone for “use, not user” it has no way of regulating who owns the property in the future and that the community must therefore consider whether or not they are happy with the proposed uses.

Malcolmson added that although concerns about financing and ownership were excellent questions to ask, they should be addressed by the foundation. She said the LTC also could not propose alternate locations for the clinic, and had to address the application as it was submitted.

Asked how many submissions the committee had received for and against the application, LTC Chair Louise Bell explained she looks at “reasoning as much as numbers”, when she makes a decision. Malcolmson agreed that “it’s not a total popularity contest”.

At a Wednesday special meeting at the WI Hall Malcolmson expanded further on the answer, as well as addressing a number of other questions raised since the clinic rezoning application was submitted in September 2010.

Regarding the number of submissions, Malcolmson said that she received 718 “inputs” from 418 people. Of the latter she said 375 were in favour of the bylaws, 37 were opposed, and six were not clear. She said she also received a petition against the bylaw signed by 68 people, and 27 “health care - do you care” sheets. She said she assumed those who submitted the sheets were opposed, but could not tell whether there was any duplication in these documents.

Responding to concerns about losing 20 acres of park potential inherent potential density transfer from Forest (F) zoned lands, Malcolmson said that the “mechanism” has been in place since 1997 and as it has not been used. She did not see the clinic rezone as a barrier to a future density transfer application. She noted further that the 76 acre parcel remaining cannot be subdivided, and an application for a density swap of three transferable densities for 60 acres of park is still possible.

As for loss of greenspace, Malcolmson said there is no conservation component in F-zoned land and there are still about 10 large F-zoned lots left on the island. She added that she appreciated vigilance from community members about the preservation of land, but Trust policy also calls for trustees to consider “human values and activities”.

Among a number of issues previously discussed, Malcolmson also responded to concerns about the clinic being used for “market-based treatments”. She said such uses are already occurring in the clinic but that by requiring that Medical Services Plan services be provided “the Local Trust Committee (LTC) has been able to articulate a more narrow definition of health care on this lot”.

Regarding a suggestion that the LTC should submit the proposed bylaw to a referendum, Malcolmson said that unlike other local governments, the committee is only allowed to administer “non-binding polls”. She said the results of such polls do not fetter an LTC’s decision and added that she thought the committee had received lots of input “through the normal channels”.

She also said that although some were concerned the application process was too hurried, Trust literature describes the minimum process at six months. She thought that by the time the bylaw has been reviewed by the minister, it will have taken about nine months.

Malcolmson also noted it is up to the applicants to make themselves understood to the community and recommended that they host a community meeting with an independent facilitator.

Asked on Monday whether the land donation for the clinic came with “strings attached”, Planner Kaitlin Kazmierowski said that the donor made it clear from the beginning that the application was only about the donated property, and not about the total 80 acre parcel from which it will be severed. Malcolmson said that if a change in use was requested for the 76 acre remainder, another application would be required.

Asked if there were no ambulance station on the lot whether other uses, such as a drug store, could be allowed, Kazmierowski said they would not.

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Most speakers support clinic at public hearing

Flying Shingle, Monday, April 4 2011

Packed the house at the public hearing on the proposed community clinic bylaw. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

An application to rezone forestry lands to make way for an urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical offices was supported by the majority of speakers at a public hearing on Monday night.

Of those who expressed reservations to the Local Trust Committee (LTC) and a full house at the Haven’s Phoenix Auditorium, the majority appeared to primarily disagree with the location of the proposed clinic.

As previously reported, the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) wants to build a community-owned UTR and medical clinic on a 4.1 acre parcel of donated lands at the top of Church Street. It has applied to have the property rezoned from Forestry to Institutional 4.

The proposed bylaw makes the UTR the clinic’s principle use. Medical offices are allowed as accessory uses. The application also makes provision for an ambulance station as an “associated use”.

Don and Brad Powell, who own the current ambulance station, said the land is specifically zoned for an ambulance station and could not be used for anything else if the station is removed from the lot. However Trustee Sheila Malcolmson responded at Wednesday’s LTC meeting that the lot is zoned “IN3”, and that zoning allows for a number of uses. She added that there are already a number of similarly zoned lots on the island.

Sheila Haniszewska said the process that led to the public hearing and the adoption of the bylaw was “deeply flawed” and undemocratic.

Jamie Lawrence said that without a business plan it is hard to know whether the clinic is financially viable. He said there is a notice in the window of the GHCF volunteers’ office that there is a business plan but it has never been released.

Jacinthe Eastick said that the bylaw contravenes the Official Community Plan (OCP) in five ways – and in particular a policy that does not support subdivision of forestry land. She said it was “disingenuous” to go ahead with the new bylaw without acknowledging it is contraindicated by the OCP.

Eastick said she had spoken to Ministry of Health Manager of Diagnostic Facilities Robin Henneberry, who cautioned that if a proposed medical lab use is not defined correctly patients could end up having to pay for any work done there.

Henneberry also said a special license is required for laboratories before doctors can extract bodily fluids from people who are not their patients, Eastick said.

Along with many others, Mike Phillips said the location was “perfect” because of its proximity to the ambulance station and helicopter pad. He said a better facility was desperately needed and the lot had “no higher use” than as a clinic. Phillips said there was no more room for more equipment and doctors at the Twin Beaches clinic, “and the location is very poor”. He also said the timing is right for a new facility.

Phillips said some day all Gabriolans would be grateful for the clinic, and that this is Gabriola’s “last chance” to have an urgent care facility on Gabriola.

Nancy Rowan said she supported the accessory use of the clinic as it supports a team-based approach towards health care, which would be of benefit for islanders. She said having the UTR would make it easier to attract and keep doctors.

Stuart Denholm said the proposed bylaws were “in stark contravention of the very spirit of the Islands Trust Policy Statement regarding forest ecosystems and the over-arching preserve and protect mandate”. He said permitted uses of the zoning were clear, “including density transfer for parkland”. He said he did not doubt this transfer would happen in the future and that if the bylaws were adopted “we may lose out on 20 acres of parkland”.

Denholm also said the bylaws set a dangerous precedent for the future, and that the Trust mandate puts “the importance of place above people”.

Gisele Rudischer said that if the LTC believes that the application is important enough to make an exception to the policies that protect Forestry-zoned lands, a clause to that effect should be added to the OCP.

Brenda Fowler said that in six years the foundation had “evaluated every piece of property in and around the community core”. She added that the proposed site makes it possible for people to maintain their privacy when attending the clinic

Dixon Kenny said many long-term islanders have left Gabriola because they were not confident about emergency care. He was grateful to Robert Lee Rooks for donating the land, and thought the majority of islanders agree with the proposed clinic.

Susan Yates said she agreed with the UTR and location, but not with the accessory use of the medical clinic. She said community fundraising undermines the public healthcare service, and creates unfair competition between the existing clinics on the island.

Garry Davey responded that community clinic doctors would be paying rent in the same way as Dr. Mackenzie is at the Gabriola Professional Centre.

Other concerns raised included: the absence of a binding legal agreement ensuring transfer of the lot; a suggestion that the LTC hold a referendum to determine whether Gabriolans want to change the requirement to protect Forest-zoned lands; that too much resource land has already been stripped from the community, while other more appropriate sites are available, and; disagreement with the scale of the clinic proposal.

Other arguments for the bylaw included that: the land has already been stripped of trees; Gabriolans will be wary of taking on other community projects if the clinic doesn’t go forward, and; there is still lots of green space left on Gabriola and the four acres for the clinic lot won’t be missed.

Alex Hodson, Peter Eastick, and Tony Gibson, also raised concerns about the bylaw.

David Stone, Marilyn Geater, Paul Kuszyk, Jacquie Braid, Sophie Arthaud, Kerry Marcus, Doug Hodges, Eric Boulton, Marianne Wunderli, John Woods, Ruth Loomis, Neil Aitken, Randy Young, Nancy Nevison, Albert Reid, Ken Capon, Erik Anderson, Deborah Nelson, Richard De Lissa, Annette Sweeney, and Linda Reid also spoke for the clinic and the proposed bylaws.

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Trust rezoning procedure beats the alternative

Flying Shingle, Monday, March 21, 2011

Trustee Sheila Malcolmson: getting the support she needs

Without the Islands Trust (IT) a rezoning decision on whether to create an Institutional zone for a medical clinic would be made by the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) and the community would have one voice in 17 about that decision.

At the Feb. 24 Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting Trustee Sheila Malcolmson addressed a concern raised recently on The Shingle letters page that she will be the only local trustee responsible for deciding whether to agree to the application.

Malcolmson said without the LTC, Director Gisele Rudischer “would be making the decision locally, and then going back to the (RDN) board and talking to the other 16 board members. So good luck with that process”. She added that Quadra and Cortez Islands, which are not governed by the IT, elect one representative who makes zoning recommendations to the Campbell River Regional District board.

While acknowledging that it would be nice if Trustee Deborah Ferens, who recused herself from the decision-making process due to a possible conflict of interest, could join her in the decision, Malcolmson said she felt “well-supported” by LTC Chair Louise Bell, who has “masses of experience from all the other islands that she works on”.

Acknowledging that the situation is “awkward” and “there is strength in numbers for sure” Malcolmson said it was still a lot better than the alternative model available in BC for rural governance.

While thanking those who had passed sympathy along to her, Malcolmson said she would have addressed this issue with the letter writer herself if he had written to her directly.

Continuing in the media-raised issues vein, Malcolmson also discussed a comment she made at an earlier LTC meeting in which she said it would be nice if the fire department put affordable housing on their lot. She said the comment came out of her awareness that other islands want affordable housing because they can’t find people to volunteer for the fire department.

Malcolmson said she was not implying that the LTC was going to be imposing zoning on anybody. She apologised for “wading into an issue” she did not realise was sensitive.

Finally Malcolmson reiterated that the Commons rezoning bylaws did not “enshrine the Commons Foundation as the owners forever”. She said the Commons limited themselves, but the LTC only has the authority to define the use of the land, not who uses it.

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Society membership not required for clinic patients

Flying Shingle, Monday, March 7, 2011

"We would never turn anyone away in a medical emergency or if they are already a patient of Dr. Bosman", asserted Twin Beaches clinic Office Manager Janice Kerr Wednesday.

Kerr was responding to a question from The Shingle on behalf of patients who are concerned that if they withdraw from the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) they would not be able to continue as patients of Dr. Francois Bosman.

Kerr’s response echoed a commitment sent out by email by the foundation. Among other things, the email responded to a concern that the foundation has the ability to set membership fees, which some members might not wish to pay.

"Anyone can withdraw his/her membership in the GHCF simply by sending a letter or an email message to the foundation to that effect", the email said. Acknowledging that the foundation can set membership fees, the email also said: "members that did not wish to pay them could withdraw from membership. They would still have access to all the clinic facilities". The email also noted that the foundation had not charged fees to date.

As for taking on new patients, although Bosman will continue to respond to emergencies, Kerr said, Dr. Verne Smith has retired, and Dr. Tracie Thorne is on maternity leave until July. She said they had hoped for a locum doctor to cover Thorne’s leave, but that had fallen through, so the Twin Beaches clinic is not taking new patients until Thorne returns, "or we get a third doctor".

Asked if there was any possibility of the latter, Kerr said there has been some interest in the position shown recently.

As previously reported, the foundation is raising funds towards building an urgent treatment centre and medical offices for the use of the doctors currently practicing out of the clinic at Twin Beaches. The foundation states that all Gabriola residents who support its purposes are members.

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Medical clinic supporters pack Trust meeting

Flying Shingle, Monday, March 7, 2011

Supporters of a rezoning application to make way for an urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical offices at the top of Church Street filled the WI Hall Feb. 24 to tell the Local Trust Committee (LTC) how they felt about the application.

Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) President Brenda Fowler began with a presentation to the LTC.

She said the proposed community clinic will be built to "post-disaster" standards, and that clinic building and landscaping would have a small energy footprint – in part because at least 200 people are attending "wellness" clinics on Gabriola, reducing the number of trips to Nanaimo.

Noting that the LTC has received many letters in support of the application, Fowler said nearly 700 donors and many organisations had also indicated their support.

Fowler explained that the foundation had considered a number of properties for the site, including lands at the EMCON site. She added later that EMCON owner Frank Rizzardo said that the land at the top of Church Street was a much better offer.

A number of meeting attendees also spoke in favour of the clinic during the Town Hall portion of the meeting.

Eric Boulton spoke as a 62 year "continuous" resident, saying that it is only recently Gabriolans have had regular access to on-island doctors. He said the community raised $100,000 to build the Twin Beaches clinic, but that a bigger, better clinic was needed. Speaking to the amount of money that has been raised to date, Boulton said: $660,000 "must say something" about the support for the clinic, as must the donation of the land for the clinic and the fact that tradesmen have volunteered to donate their time to build the clinic.

To a round of applause and laughter Boulton concluded: "I cant’ wait for the permanent medical clinic to be built. I deserve it even if you don’t".

Penny Sidor said that many non-profit organisations on the island have built and sustained buildings, and thought the foundation would be able to do the same for the clinic.

Ruth Loomis said she was "totally in favour" of the property on Church Street for the clinic. She said she didn’t want to lose the doctors for the lack of the facility.

Neil Aiken said the Advisory Planning Commission (APC) had done the community "a disservice" by requesting a delay in the process. He said there have been many things in the papers that have nothing to do with the rezoning application and are unnecessarily raising apprehension in the community.

Mike Philips said "democracy Gabriola-style is incredible and here we go again on one of our big rounds". He said health care in BC is "a mess" but Gabriola has been offered a "dream of an opportunity … which a very small group of people are attempting to take apart for reasons known only to themselves". He said there were charges, innuendo, false information, misleading comments, and charges of impropriety, that facts and reality have been warped, twisted, and ignored, and that the opponents have no workable alternatives.

Philips also said that the governance of the APC - which made a number of recommendations to the LTC - was "disappointing" and that APC members didn’t know what they were talking about. He said the LTC should focus on whether the rezoning application was good for the community and ignore the APC.

Anne Van Kessel spoke of a medical emergency she had at Folklife Village. She said that it was thanks to quick action by the First Responders and doctors that she was still alive. She said: "Their reputation is gold in Victoria".

Nancy Nevison, chair of the foundation’s auxiliary, said that delay in building the clinic increases equipment and building costs and the burden on the Twin Beaches doctors, and that volunteers have been working towards the creation of the clinic for almost six years. Noting that some opponents are in favour of the clinic but not the Church Street location Nevison invited them to make their own donations.

Marilyn Geater said her late husband, Fred, who was a past chair of the foundation, intended that Gabriola have a proper UTR. She said that is what the work has been all about and that without the UTR, access to life-saving medication is not possible.

Paramedic Jacquie Braid said having the clinic on Church Street would make access "so much easier".

Liz Steele said she was "fed up" with "inappropriately negative" people on the island who cause Dr. Francois Bosman hardship. She said the issue at question is retaining Bosman as a doctor. She said Dr. Daile Hoffman left "because we couldn’t make that clinic work fast enough for her". She said "we need to have the best facility that we can to attract doctors", that the Twin Beaches has been known for four years to be temporary, and that it was "like a jail cell over there – there’s no daylight there’s skid of mouldy black on the ceiling". She said these conditions won’t attract doctors.

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Proposed Clinic Bylaws pass second reading with minor amendments

Gabriola Sounder, Derek Kilbourn, Monday, February 28, 2011

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee has given second reading to the proposed bylaws to re-zone the proposed Medical Clinic land as Institutional 4 (IN4) from Forestry.

The next step will be a public hearing, where residents will be asked to say whether they are for or against the proposed bylaws as currently written.

In giving second reading, the LTC made amendments to proposed Bylaw 261 (which will amend the Land-Use Bylaw) based on recommendations from staff and the Advisory Planning Commission.

Added to the definition of “medical office” which is listed as the accessory use for the zoning was the wording, “for clarity, medical care ensured under the Medical Services Plan of BC must be provided.”

Trustee Sheila Malcolmson and staff noted that the helicopter pad as proposed would be regulated by Transport Canada, but did amend the proposed bylaw to say “emergency helicopter pad.”

Rather than listing “ambulance station” as either a principal or accessory use, staff had recommended writing it in to the proposed bylaw as an Associated Use.

Planning Manager Chris Jackson explained, “it is a new way to go about it. The problem was if you have a principal use, that’s the main thing and accsssory use is dependent on it. For example, home occupation requires there be a house.

“But in this situation, the Ambulance Station is not meant to be just for the urgent care, but they only want it to happen only if there is urgent care. So that’s where we came up with associated use.”

During the discussion, the Trustees noted there had been a huge amount of correspondence on the issue. Over 250 emails had been received by the Trust office just between Friday, Feb. 18 and Tues., Feb. 22., of which only one was in opposition to the re-zoning application.

Bylaw 260, which amends the Official Community Plan, also passed second reading.

Both bylaws will now be put to public hearing. The hearing date had not been officially scheduled as of press time.

Town Hall speakers support application, reject APC recomendations

During the Town Hall session of the LTC meeting, twelve Gabriolans stood up to voice their support for the re-zoning application as it currently stands, asking the LTC to reject the Advisory Planning Commissions recommendations to not re-zone the land as IN4. There were no speakers in objection to the application.

Gabriolan Eric Boulton summed up many of the sympathies, saying, “I’m a 60 year continuous resident on Gabriola - in short, I would like to see the re-zoning done to fit the building of the clinic. For the first 30-odd years of my life there was not health care here other than home remedies. For the next 30 there was spasmodic doctors who volunteered their time and gave us medical attention.. It was not until Dr. Dale said these conditions are intolerable and said if we want medical attention, do something about the clinic.

“A top notch medical clinic society was put together and came together with a plan that was workable - the community kicked in and raised $100,000 to make it happen.

It’s working well but it has grown too a bit too small and needs updating for the future.

“$660K must say something. The donation of 4.1 acres must say something. The donation of all the trades must tell you a whole lot more. Every person in this room, is affected by the loss of trees to build their home, to build the school, the playground. The only place that comes from is forestry and the best use of what is designated now as forestry land is to put it in to a clinic site. I can’t wait for the clinic to be built. I deserve it, even if you don’t.”

Five year clause eliminated

Dr. Bob Rooks, who is the donor of the land being proposed for re-zoning, stood up to speak after Eric.

Bob has signed a pledge agreement saying that as soon as the land is re-zoned, the title will belond to the Health Care Foundation.

He said he knows there have been worries from the island about the part in the agreement that said if the clinic was not built in five years, the title would return to him.

“My lawyer put a thing in there about if in five years the clinic had not been built the land would come back to me.

“All the lawyer was doing was trying to protect me because we didn’t know if there would be enough raised to do this.”

Holding up a large manila envelope, Bob said, “The agreement is now changed, the five year clause is gone. I’m doing that because we have so much raised, this is going to work. The five year clause is gone, the second it is zoned, it is yours, there are no strings attached.”

He gave the new pledge directly to Brenda Fowler, Chair of the Health Care Foundation, who thanked him.

Trust will not host Community Information Meeting

The Advisory Planning Commission members had recommended there be a community information meeting before the second reading and public hearing.

The hope of the APC was a meeting would allow the community to publicly share information before the bylaw goes to public hearing. The public would be able to discuss some of the issues about the clinic proposal the Trust Committtee cannot have any say in, such as ownership, membership of the Foundation, funding, et cetera.

Sheila said, “I hear the concerns. But the motivation of the donor, the funding of the Foundation, these have nothing to do with the zoning. I think I’ve said this at every meeting.

“Zoning can’t regulate these...local government can’t mediate them. We need to go to public hearing and hear what the community thinks [about the proposed bylaws]

“I don’t think it is our responsibility to host this, it would be awkward to try and bring peace and then go to bylaw.

“I think the LTC has done everything it can to deal with this, we’ve gone as far as we can. The bylaw we gave first reading to in December has not changed considerably.

“I am not getting any input from anybody critical in the last month about the actual uses proposed so far as the re-zoning is concerned. It’s all about governance and things outsde of the LTC’s ability to regulate.

“I am interested in the bylaws. I am interested in giving second reading to those, we’ve already given direction to go to public hearing and I’m looking forward to hearing from the community.”

The up-to-date proposed bylaws 260 and 261 are both available for public reading online at in the “Gabriola Island” section, at the Islands Trust Northern Office on North Road, at the Health Care Auxiliary Volunteer Office in Folklife Village.

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Rooks revokes ‘five year’ clause

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 28 2011

Robert Lee Rooks has removed a controversial clause in a "Pledge Agreement" that could have required the return of land donated for a community health clinic.

As previously reported, Rooks, owner of Potlatch Properties, has offered to donate 4.1 acres at the top of Church Street as a home for an urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical offices for the doctors now operating out of the Twin Beaches clinic. Rooks has given the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) permission to apply on his behalf to have the property rezoned from Forestry to Institutional 4.

Also as previously reported, the an agreement between Potlatch and GHCF says that the land will be transferred to the foundation upon subdivision, but included a provision that if the clinic is not "completed" within five years the land could revert back to Potlatch Properties.

At Thursday’s Local Trust Committee meeting at the WI Hall, Rooks said his lawyer had put the clause into the agreement to protect him, because "we didn’t know if this group could raise enough to do this". Rooks said "this has now changed" because the GHCF has raised so much money. He said the Pledge Agreement now has "no strings attached".

GHCF President Brenda Fowler thanked Rooks for making the change.

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Clinic bylaw gets second reading despite APC recommendation

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 28 2011

It was a full house at Thursday’s Local Trust Committee meeting as many Gabriolans showed up to support the medical clinic application. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

It was a full house at Thursday’s Local Trust Committee meeting as many Gabriolans showed up to support the medical clinic application. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

The Local Trust Committee (LTC) gave second reading Thursday to an application to create a lot for a community medical clinic despite a decision by the Advisory Planning Commission (APC) to rescind previous support of the location.

At their meeting at the WI Hall, the APC voted three to two Feb. 15 to rescind a motion made at their previous meeting supporting the creation of a specially zoned lot meant to house a community-owned urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical offices.

Commissioner Jacinthe Eastick, who made the motion to rescind, admitted it was "academic" as the Local Trust Committee (LTC) had already proposed a bylaw to rezone the property in question. However, she explained, at the last APC meeting she had approached the referral "with mitigation in mind", having decided that the LTC would agree to the referral. She said: "I realise this was the wrong approach, and not what is expected from an advisory body".

As previously reported, Robert Lee Rooks of Potlatch Properties has offered to donate 4.1 acres at the top of Church Street as a home for the clinic. The Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) has applied on his behalf to have the property rezoned from Forestry to Institutional 4.

As reasons for their decision APC members included the short amount of time they were given to consider the application, concerns around rezoning Forestry lands, and concerns about how the remainder of the 80 acre parcel will be dealt with in the future.

Eastick also had concerns that the GHCF was unwilling to provide a covenant to guarantee only non-profit organisations could buy the clinic. Trustee Sheila Malcolmson said that the Islands Trust is not able to enforce covenants about who can use the land, only about how it will be used.

Commissioners also voted unanimously that the application process be slowed down to deal with some of the questions arising in the community.

At their Thursday LTC meeting at the WI Hall, Malcolmson said that no significant changes had been recommended for some time for the actual rezoning bylaw the committee is considering. She said the application has received far more support than expressions of concern, and that while she had taken the latter into consideration, it was time to take the application to a second reading and a public hearing.

In giving the bylaw a final tidy up, Malcolmson noted that staff had changed a proposed ambulance station from an "accessory" to an "associated" use. Regional Planning Manager Chris Jackson explained that as an "accessory" use it could be thought the ambulance station could only be used to service the UTR, whereas the "associated" use did not carry this same connotation.

In response to what she said was a "fascinating debate" by the APC about insured services, Malcolmson suggested that a phrase clarifying that Medical Services Plan services must be provided at the clinic be added to the definition of "medical offices".

Malcolmson also responded to concerns raised about governance issues, "amenity migration" – a process by which people move to the country and then import urban services – and "the motivation of the donor", by noting that they have nothing to do with zoning, which is all the LTC is able to consider. She added that the LTC is also not able to base a decision on any site but the one in the application.

In response to suggestions that the LTC facilitate a community process on all these issues Malcolmson said such a meeting would be a good idea, but that it would be inappropriate for the LTC to conduct a meeting about anything but zoning.

The LTC considered ways of ensuring new climate change policies are abided by in the clinic building and landscaping, and agreed to have staff propose wording for these if this was found to be something community members asked for at the public hearing.

The LTC agreed to a recommendation from the APC that wording be changed to stipulate a helicopter pad be restricted to emergency use.

They also noted in the minutes that community care facilities will not be allowed because they must be attached to a residential use, which would not be allowed on the lot.

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CLINIC ALTERNATIVES -- EMCON property swap comes with problems

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 28 2011

Map shows areas considered by GHCF. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

A closer look at a possible building site for a community-owned health clinic has shown it to come with at least one large problem.

As previously reported, EMCON President Frank Rizzardo of Merritt BC has said he would consider donating an Institutionally-zoned one hectare lot towards the clinic in lieu of a .454 hectare park dedication. However Rizzardo said Tuesday that his engineer does not think a full hectare can be provided by the lot in question.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) requires that new lots be one hectare in size to accommodate water and septic systems.

The proposed lot is bordered by North Road to the south and Paisley Place to the north and is on the west side of the EMCON work yard.

Rizzardo, who is closing in on completing a subdivision of the EMCON property, said he had originally thought that he could move the current proposed lot line to ensure that the one hectare requirement was met. However he has learned that in order to do so he would have to redo an expensive environmental process which, among other things, would require that he shut down operations. He added that he was looking into whether the lot would be accepted "as is".

Rizzardo also said that he had learned that sewage capabilities have already been proven on the lot, so if the GHCF decided to look into this proposal they would only have to prove access to water.

Rizzardo said he would also call Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) President Brenda Fowler to see if the foundation is interested in his offer.

At Thursday’s Local Trust Committee meeting at the WI Hall, Fowler said the EMCON property was considered as a possible location for the clinic but the foundation did not pursue the possibility because EMCON has "had a great deal of difficulty with divesting their property". She said they have been going through a four year rezoning process.

Access to the property is down a residential street, Fowler said, and the land adjacent to the property is residential "unlike the Church Street property where the adjacent uses are other institutional uses". She said she did speak with Rizzardo who said he would be willing to provide access onto North Road. She said that the property would have to be environmentally remediated – "a cost that he would not incur and we certainly could not afford to do this".

The property has trees on it that would have to be cut, Fowler also said, adding that a helicopter would not be able to land on the property without trees on adjacent properties being cut, and there would be no room for expansion after the currently planned building had been built.

Fowler also said that she didn’t think that community members wanted to forfeit a park, cut trees, or disturb a residential neighbourhood to build the clinic. She thought it was "irresponsible" to suggest the property was either available or a good alternative to the Church Street site.

Fowler added that Rizzardo was willing to discuss the site as a future affordable housing site.

Trustee Sheila Malcolmson noted that the land in question had been set aside for use as a community park, and that there is a "very special subdivision process" it has to go through for that to happen. She said she couldn’t think of anyone going along with the suggestion that this parkland might be used for the clinic.

Noting that before EMCON bought the land it had been Crown land and the community had not been given the option to purchase it, when it was sold, she said it was "a bit of a touchy issue".

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MINISTRY IN THE DARK - Funds for health planning spent on doctors

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 28 2011

Most of $70,000 given by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to the Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) largely for planning purposes has instead been paid to island doctors for on-call services, one Gabriolan has discovered.

Shena Meadowcroft told a Feb. 10 meeting at the Rollo Seniors’ Centre, called to discuss the proposed community-owned urgent treatment room and doctors’ offices, that terms outlined in a 2008 memorandum of understanding (MOU) have not been followed.

The MOU between four island doctors, the MOH, the GHCS, and the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) calls for $50,000 to be spent on "the planning process" for "solutions for facilitating … sustainable primary health care for Gabriola", and $20,000 for the physicians "to provide the MOH and VIHA with family practice hours on Gabriola, expected changes to physician supply, specific locum requirements, date of billing tutorial and a copy of the information sheet to be provided to prospective physicians coming to Gabriola and a copy of any press release(s) related to this initiative".

Yet, according to a report on the GHCS web site (, $53,800 was given to Gabriola doctors: $25,000 each to Dr. Francois Bosman, and Dr. Daile Hoffman to compensate them for on-call work, and in Hoffman’s case to also cover her participation in, and research for, the planning process.

Dr. Geoff Harding and Dr. Jim Mackenzie, the report says, were given $2,300 and $1,500 respectively for participating in the planning process.

Ministry spokesperson Brian Cotton confirmed the MOU says that the physicians were to be given $20,000 to provide information for the public planning process and $50,000 was to go to the Gabriola Health Care Society to support the planning process.

Cotton said however, "… the Ministry is not aware of any additional funds that went directly to the physicians".

Cotton added: "The Ministry is pleased that all the action items set out in the MOU have been achieved, including the successful recruitment of another family physician under the (Family Physicians for BC) program".

GHCS President Brenda Fowler said that according to former GHCS President Fay Weller, and Treasurer Harvey Graham, "Ministry of Health and VIHA representatives verbally confirmed (to Weller) that they were in agreement with the report on the GHCS website".

Fowler added: "… the amount of the payment was negotiated in two components, first $50,000 was awarded to GHCS for the project. Then, with increased involvement of the doctors, the grant was increased to $70,000. However, that did not mean that only $20,000 was to go to the MDs. In fact, no amount was paid directly to the doctors. Instead the full $70,000 amount was paid to GHCS as a grant that GHCS could use as it determined would best enable it to satisfy the requirements of the MOU".

Fowler said that when the MOU was negotiated the doctors were becoming frustrated with "… the lack of compensation for providing on-call services and the continued refusal of VIHA to address the issue. After GHCS received the grant it was concluded that we should, to the extent possible, use volunteer time to address the requirements of the MOU so as to free up funds to compensate the doctors for both their involvement in the process and for other uncompensated services to the community. That decision was within GHCS rights under the MOU and we continue to believe that it was the correct decision. The result was that doctors continued to provide on-call services (granted, in one case, not as long as might have been hoped), an additional doctor was recruited, and at least partial MOCAP (payment for on-call services) was ultimately obtained".

The MOU may be found at:

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Need for heart drugs original reason for emergency clinic

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 28 2011

The ability to access heart and stroke medication known as "clot-busting" drugs, was the impetus to create an urgent treatment room (UTR), according to Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) supporter Marilyn Geater.

At a Feb. 10 meeting at the Rollo Seniors’ Centre, supporters of a proposed community UTR and medical office revisited the history of what created the impetus to create an urgent treatment room (UTR) on Gabriola.

The meeting was organised by Gabriolans Shena Meadowcroft and Tony Gibson. They said they called the meeting for those who have had questions and doubts about the clinic. They said many Gabriolans have been afraid to express their concerns about the clinic because they had been intimidated by some clinic advocates.

During question period, GHCS supporter Pat Jordon said that the society originated in response to a BC Ferry decision that they would no longer take people over to Nanaimo at night. She said a group of "highly qualified" people got together to lobby for an emergency dock and quality health care on the island.

Health society supporter Marilyn Geater added that Drs. MacPherson and Daile Hoffman, each from a different medical clinic, and both of whom are no longer practicing on Gabriola, lobbied to create an UTR, so they could have access to "drugs that were needed for heart attack and/or stroke".

Reached for comment, Lori DeLuca of the Ministry of Health explained that: "… a special location is required to administer clot-busting drugs because the patient must be monitored for several hours after the drug is administered to make sure there is no brain bleed".

Meeting attendee Jeremy Baker made the point that it is now possible to transport people with medical emergencies to the Nanaimo hospital at night and the clot-busting drugs and UTR are now available. He said Gabriolans "expectations are outstripping our capability to provide them. There’s a limit to how much health care you can provide", and that most people are content with what is available now.

Meeting attendee Evelyn Whitney asked if the new clinic would only be for the Twin Beaches clinic doctors. GHCF Auxiliary Chair Nancy Nevison said the UTR would be for "doctors who are on call".

Meeting attendee Jacinthe Eastick said that doctors who work all day should not have to be on-call at the end of the day. She wondered if the on-call work could be taken on by Nurse Practitioners (NP). Gabriola Professional Centre co-owner and Manager Verna Gregson said an NP could staff an UTR.

As previously reported, funding for NP positions for which the BC Medical Association does not require strict oversight by a doctor is currently only available through the health authorities.

Also as reported, Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) Communications Officer Anya Nimmon has said that a June 2008 application for an NP position submitted by Gregson asked that a position be shared between both Gabriola medical clinics. Nimmon said VIHA had responded that the request would have to come from both medical clinics to be considered. She explained that NPs need to work with about four doctors in order to practice to their full scope.

A joint application was never submitted, Nimmon said, but VIHA remains open to such an application, and if approved by the NP Steering committee, "it would be considered in future if funding becomes available".

Meeting attendee Penny Sidor and others said health society board members should have been invited to the meeting, so they could answer any questions community members might have.

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Trustee, Planner not in conflict of interest: Adams

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 28 2011

Islands Trust Chief Executive Officer Linda Adams has responded in the negative to a question about whether Trustee Sheila Malcolmson and Planner Kaitlin Kazmierowski are in a conflict of interest regarding a medical clinic rezoning application.

The question was raised by Gabriolans Shena Meadowcroft and Tony Gibson at a Feb. 10 meeting at Rollo Seniors’ Centre about a proposed community medical clinic.

As previously reported, the Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) aims to build an urgent treatment room and medical clinic on a lot on the top of Church Street. The society has said that all adult Gabriola residents are members of the society as long as they agree with the society’s purpose – "to improve the primary health care services for the residents of and the visitors to Gabriola Island, British Columbia".

Meadowcroft and Gibson questioned whether, as members of the health society, Trustee Sheila Malcolmson and Planner Kaitlin Kazmierowski were in conflict of interest in assessing the application.

Adams responded to the conflict of interest question, saying by letter: "Section 104 of the Charter indicates that conflict of interest restrictions ‘do not apply’ if ‘the pecuniary interest of the council member (trustee) is a pecuniary interest in common with electors of the municipality (local trust area) generally’. Adams said she was unaware whether Malcolmson had any pecuniary intrests in the application, "However, if she did by virtue of her membership in the Gabriola Health Care Society, the Community Charter would enable her to participate in decision-making regarding the rezoning application. Without such an exclusion, locally elected officials would be able to participate in few land use decisions within their own community.

Adams added that Kazmierowski has "no personal interest in the matter that would require her to withdraw from her role in processing the rezoning application".

Meadowcroft said she started scrutinising the clinic proposal when, she said, Nancy Nevison, chair of the GHCF Auxiliary, told her that Dr. Jim Mackenzie, who works out of the Gabriola Professional Centre (GPC), and who is Meadowcroft’s doctor, is a privately-funded doctor paid by GPC Manager and co-owner Verna Gregson, and that he was unable to refer to specialists. None of these things are true, she clarified.

Reached for comment, Nevison said that she didn’t recall this conversation. She said she might have said that Mackenzie doesn’t work as an on-call doctor.

Nevison said that GHCS and Gabriola Health Care Foundation volunteers "all say to tell us if we give out any information which is not true". However Meadowcroft never approached her directly to do so, Nevison said.

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Negative ‘billing’ option bad clinic membership approach: Eastick

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 28 2011

Including all Gabriolans as a member of the Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) unless they opt out is like a "negative billing option", according to Advisory Planning Commission (APC) member Jacinthe Eastick, and it is an idea with which she disagrees.

At their Feb. 15 meeting at the WI Hall, Eastick, acknowledged that the society is following the same model as the Gabriola Community Hall. She said there is a difference between a hall and a medical clinic, however. She said suggesting that the GHCS represents all Gabriolans puts the society in an unelected quasi-governmental position. She suggested that the society review their membership adhesion protocols.

As previously reported, the Gabriola Health Care Foundation has applied to rezone land on the top of Church Street for use as a community-owned urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical offices.

Eastick also wondered if Gabriolans "know that what is envisioned (for a proposed community health clinic) is to house (multi-disciplinary health) care providers". She said that this has been the long-term vision of society for some time.

Eastick said a multi-disciplinary health clinic was too grandiose a plan for Gabriola. She said rather than working out of the clinic, those health care providers – who would not be doctors – could rent some of the space available in the Village core.

Commissioner Nancy Crozier agreed, saying that there are many commercial locations available in the Village core that can house health care professionals, and that many locations already have vacancies with a new mall still to come.

Commissioner Carly McMahon said that she preferred to be able to get all her health care needs provided in one location.

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Trust can’t ensure transfer of ownership: Jackson

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 28 2011

The Trust has no legal mechanism to ensure that land meant to house an urgent treatment room and medical offices will actually be transferred to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF).

In a Thursday report delivered to the Local Trust Committee (LTC), Regional Planning Manager Chris Jackson said, in essence, that a "legal undertaking" could not be made to ensure transfer of land from Potlatch Properties to the foundation. He said such contracts apply to parcels of land that already exist. He said the clinic parcel will come into existence upon subdivision, not rezoning. He said it was up to the GHCF to ensure that it successfully acquires the property.

Jackson also clarified that a "Pledge Agreement" between Potlatch and the GHCF "could not be used to guarantee or force the subdivision and transfer of ownership" if for some reason the deal between Rooks and the GHCF falls through. He said this also lies outside of the jurisdiction of the LTC.

As previously reported, Robert Lee Rooks of Potlatch Properties has offered to donate 4.1 acres at the top of Church Street as a home for the clinic. Rooks has given the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) permission to apply on his behalf to have the property rezoned from Forestry to Institutional 4.

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APC goes second round on Clinic application

Gabriola Sounder, Derek Kilbourn, derek@soundernews.comMonday, February 21, 2011

The Gabriola Advisory Planning Commission has requested the Gabriola Health Care Foundation’s rezoning application for the proposed Church Road site be slowed down to allow for further public discussion of the issue.

This came at the APC’s deliberation of the application last Tuesday night.

As the meeting progressed and more and more questions were asked and answered by Trustee Sheila Malcolmson and members present from the Health Care Society, it became apparent to the APC that the community has a lot of questions still as well, and a public meeting would be important.

APC member Carly McMahon said, “We need something before the second reading.

“I would say a lot of people are in support of this because we are doing this, but at the same time there is all this little nittering and nattering of hearsay and I think what we need is to have facts brought to a central location before second reading. It doesn’t have to slow the entire process down. There are meetings and little things going on everywhere and I don’t think anybody has all the facts.”

APC member Melanie Mamoser said “Ditto. Even with all the information we have, a lot of things were cleared up tonight just by asking the questions.”

The APC members asked Sheila if there was any way to have a public meeting to allow for public discourse on the application.

Sheila said, “The public hearing happens at the end of the process, usually when the Trust Committee says this is as good as the bylaws can get. It doesn’t mean the LTC supports the bylaws, but that the language is as good as we can do with bylaw language and we think now we can ask the community if they support it. Once you go to public hearing it is very formal and once it ends there is no more community input.

“So sometimes what we do is have a community information meeting, sometimes immediately before the public hearing, but sometimes we have it even a week before the hearing to allow people to ask questions.

“What I’m hearing is you’d like an information meeting. But that would be the Trust committee doing it, as opposed to the Health Care Society. It would only be about the bylaws, not the ownership because we can’t affect that.

“The LTC, right after the information meeting, could modify the bylaws.”

APC member Jacinthe Eastick recommended the LTC separate the second and third readings and proceed to the second reading when they are satisfied the community has all the information.

Permitted and Accessory Uses Backwards

APC Chair Howard Houle pointed out the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) letter of support for the clinic contained in the package. The letter outlined VIHA supports the following clinic operations:

1. Provides co-location for primary health care services (general practitioners and their staff);

2. Market-based leasing opportunities for community organizations and other health providers; and

3. Current level of urgent treatment room functions, as long as general practitioners are able to maintain regular primary care office hours.

Howard pointed out, in reading how the current rezoning bylaw is written, the primary uses of the lot would be urgent medical care and the accessory use would be a medical office.

Howard said, “Reading the VIHA letter, we have the primary and accessory uses backwards.”

APC has concerns about medical professionals going into clinic

In discussing the VIHA letter, Jacinthe flagged the second point, saying she had concerns there would be market-based health treatments going into the clinic.

“I didn’t think we would be renting rooms to physiotherapists and podiatrists ... that was not my vision. So this letter confirms that the vision is still that. [The Foundation] doesn’t want just a clinic like the one at Twin Beaches. They want a multi-thing where they are going to rent to other professionals. They claim to need more space and they rent to others?

“To my mind, this is too big; it is a white elephant. People have said this is too grandiose a plan.”

Jacinthe and APC member Nancy Crozier pointed out there are more and more commercial spaces opening up in the Village and potentially with the new phase of Madrona where health-care professionals could be opening offices rather than having them go into the public facility being proposed. They both pointed out the commercial spaces would be negatively impacted if those professionals were provided with space in the public clinic rather than having to go to the commercial spaces.

APC member Tom Kirchmeyer asked, “Is it within our mandate as the APC to worry about the economic impact of this?”

Howard said, “I support Jacinthe’s point of view, but you are correct.”

Jacinthe said, “To me, in a small community, the community context matters. We do have two malls that have phase 2 to be built and we have several institutionally zoned properties. If we make extraction of that, I say we have a fiduciary responsibility here.”

In relation to the institutional-zoned lots on Paisley Place being sold by Emcon, Carly asked if it was possible to access those lots off of North Road.

Told no, that was not possible, she expressed concern with the only access to those lots being through a residential district and having emergency vehicles operating at all hours of the day.

Helicopter pad concerns

In a previous meeting, the APC had requested Trustees remove the proposed helipad from the permitted structures, but the LTC had left it in.

APC members suggested perhaps if the helipad is being left in, the word ‘emergency’ be put in front of it.

Brenda Fowler, President for the Health Care Foundation was present on Tuesday and was asked why the helipad was being asked for despite being across the street from the heliport being built by the Fire Department.

Brenda said, “It is a request that we have this capacity – there are medical reasons that you don’t want to re-transport the patient. [You] want to get it from stabilization into the helicopter and out. The one this past weekend is a case like that. The other is spinal. We do need that. Having it kitty corner is not close enough. We would be more than happy to have ‘emergency’ in the use, but we really will be asking the Trust to put it back in.”

Sheila explained the rationale behind leaving it in was to get feedback from the various agencies the application is being referred to.

In speaking with the Fire Chief, she said she was told anybody in an emergency would be able to land a helicopter anyway, so the rationale is to get formal approval.

APC tries to restrict to public health care functions

In going over the wording which defines “medical office” as an accessory use, the APC struggled with aligning permitted functions with provincially covered functions.

In a report provided recently, Trust Staff had attempted to try to craft wording that would have the facility restricted to only those services covered by the provincial medical services plan (MSP).

Foundation member Mike Phillips was in the audience and pointed out there are many procedures, including general check-ups, prostate exams and others which are not covered by MSP, and to limit to only MSP-covered procedures would be extremely restrictive.

Jacinthe and Melanie asked if there was a way to align permitted functions with what is covered by the province.

Mike suggested rather than creating a limiting wording, instead craft the wording to say, “The clinic must provide services to people under MSP, but not limit the functions to only those services under MSP.

“Instead of saying what can’t be done there, why not say what must be done there?

“As long as that is always there, why get tangled up with Americans with no MSP card and stuff?

“I think you are trying to get coverage for everybody on Gabriola and the province who is entitled.”

Mike pointed out having the MSP as a required function would also eliminate a lot of the worry about the clinic being privately owned – public services would still have to be provided no matter what was going on in the clinic.

Melanie said, “I like the way you phrased that, somewhere it says they must provide the services covered under MSP.”

Mike said, “I think what your real concern is that the people on Gabriola who need help get the help. As long as they have MSP, who cares where they get the help, that’s what this is about. Not ownership. We can’t see 50 years from now who will be running this facility, but I think we can see they are providing the services that the government provides to its people.”

Jacinthe said she still had concerns about other health care professionals going into the clinic.

“I don’t want someone to have a business in there, a room they rent and charge for. This should be public services provided by public personnel. In my head this is the concept.”

As the APC continued to struggle with how to craft a recommendation to the Trustees, Howard said, “May I suggest we put our concerns down as a recommendation to the Trust to try and accommodate what is being expressed; that the Trust re-visit “medical office definition” and try to accommodate services provided and paid for by B.C. Health Care Plan and not to a private business run for-profit.... Give planning staff time to work on that.”

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Occupancy permit accepted as definition for ‘completion’ of clinic: Henning

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 21 2011

According to Brian Henning of Williamson and Associates, Potlatch Properties has agreed to "issuance of an occupancy permit" as a definition for "completed" in a "Pledge Agreement" clause that has caused concern for some Gabriolans.

As previously reported, Robert Lee Rooks of Potlatch Properties has said he will donate 4.1 acres at the top of Church Street to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) once the land has been rezoned and subdivided. The land is currently zoned Forestry, and Rooks has authorised the GHCF to apply to rezone his land to Institutional 4 to accommodate a community-owned urgent treatment room and medical offices.

Henning, who frequently acts as an agent for Potlatch, is acting as GHCF’s agent in this application.

A clause in a "Pledge Agreement" outlining the conditions of transfer between Potlatch and GHCF raised some concerns last month when it was noted that Potlatch may require GHCF to return the land if the clinic is not completed in five years. As there is no definition of "completed" in the agreement, community members suggested that an understanding should be reached on this definition.

Contacted last week regarding whether a definition for "completed" had yet been agreed upon, GHCF president Brenda Fowler said that "completed" is generally understood by builders and bankers to mean: "when the RDN issues the occupancy permit".

Asked if Potlatch Properties agrees with this definition Fowler said she would "confirm with Potlatch that this is their understanding". Contacted for comment, Henning said: "While the term completed is undefined in the agreement , using issuance of an occupancy permit as a definition of completed seems reasonable". Henning also noted that the five year clause says " ‘may at its discretion’ and is a protective measure".

We were unable to find any direct contact information for Potlatch Properties, so asked Henning if Potlatch Properties also agrees with the ‘issuance of occupancy permit’ definition of "completed". Henning said by email Thursday that "it is confirmed that Potlatch agrees with the definition".

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Slow down clinic application: planning commission

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 21 2011

‘Slow down!’ on the medical clinic application was the unanimous message from the Local Trust Committee (LTC) Advisory Planning Commission (APC) at their Tuesday meeting at the WI Hall.

Commissioner Jacinthe Eastick who proposed a recommendation to the LTC to that effect said there are still concerns among community members about the health clinic, and the community needs time to talk about the application.

As previously reported, Robert Lee Rooks of Potlatch Properties has offered to donate 4.1 acres at the top of Church Street as a home for the clinic. Rooks has given the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) permission to apply on his behalf to have the property rezoned from Forestry to Institutional 4.

Eastick said she had "never seen an application fly so fast, and you make mistakes when you don’t allow time to think". She said the community is talking about the application quite a lot now and speeding up the process is "not helpful".

APC Chair Howard Houle said that the LTC has received a lot of email in support of the application. He said that now that there is more information available there is more for people to consider, and "you may get people moving to either side of the question who were unprepared in the past".

Commissioner Melanie Mamoser said that many people support the urgent treatment room, (UTR) but have concerns about the location because of the rezoning of Forestry lands.

APC members recommended that the LTC hold an informal public information meeting to provide community members with information about the application. APC members wondered if this could be done before moving to public hearing and second and third reading of the bylaw.

Speaking to the application process, Trustee Sheila Malcolmson said that public hearings occur at the end of the process. She said once the public hearing has taken place, the trustees set out a bylaw that they believe is "as good as it gets" and are not allowed to hear any more input from the community, without having to begin the process all over again.

Malcolmson said sometimes the LTC might have community information meetings about a proposed bylaw. She said these are less formal, but if they are conducted by the LTC, they would have to be focused on the use of the land and the bylaw, and not on ownership issues.

The APC recommended that the LTC conduct an informal meeting to provide information to the community regarding the proposed uses, the proposed location, the vision of the society, the fact that rezoning Forestry land is counter to OCP policy, and what might happen if an application is made to transfer density from the remaining parcel.

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Free EMCON land available for clinic

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 21 2011

Frank Rizzardo, president of EMCON, and owner of institutionally zoned lots off North Road between the Gabriola Elementary School and the Gabriola Professional Centre, says that he would be willing to donate a one hectare (2.47 acres) lot for a proposed medical clinic.

Rizzardo said Wednesday that he is in the final stages of subdividing his land, and one of the requirements of subdivision is to dedicate .454 hectares towards a park. He said he would be willing to donate land towards the medical clinic in lieu of the park dedication.

Asked if this kind of trade was possible, Tom Osborne, Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Manager of Recreation and Parks, the body that manages such parks, said there was not enough information to comment. Chris Jackson, Islands Trust Regional Planning Manager said he would certainly be willing to review such an application.

As previously reported, the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) has been fundraising to build a community-owned urgent treatment room and medical clinic. Robert Lee Rooks of Potlatch Properties has offered to donate 4.1 acres at the top of Church Street as a home for the clinic. Rooks has given the GHCF permission to apply on his behalf to have the property rezoned from Forestry to Institutional 4.

GHCF President Brenda Fowler has explained that the foundation’s business plan is based on having the land donated for free, and that no other land has been found to be as suitable for the clinic’s purposes as the Rooks property.

The question of building on the EMCON lands was raised at Tuesday’s Advisory Planning Commission (APC) at the WI Hall when Commissioner Jacinthe Eastick noted that there are several Institutionally-zoned lots available on the EMCON property. She thought these lots would be more suited for the clinic as they are closer to the Village core.

Commissioner Carly McMahon wondered if there was any access to the EMCON property from North Road. She thought it would not be good to have access to the clinic running through the neighbourhood on Paisley Place.

Reached for comment in Merritt, Rizzardo said that the lot in question is bordered by North Road to the south and Paisley Road to the north. He would expect a tax receipt for the value of the donation, he added.

Rizzardo said the society would have to prove water for, and install a well and septic on, the lot but thought this would not have to slow down the application process if the Approving Officer would be willing to approve the subdivision with the well and septic for this new lot after the application is completed.

Rizzardo said that as far as he could remember he has not been approached by members of the society regarding building on his land during the past couple of years.

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Gabriola health care ‘segregated’?

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 21 2011

Verna Gregson: Room at Gabriola Professional Centre. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

Dr. J.K. Mackenzie: Believes ‘complete patient’ must be treated.

Gabriolan Shena Meadowcroft believes that some Gabriola patients are being closed out of a local health program by the Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS).

But Dave Innell, chair of the GHCS Data and Services Committee, says the ability to attend the program depends on whether one’s doctor has registered for it.

At a Feb. 10 community meeting at the Rollo Seniors’ Centre hosted by Meadowcroft, Gabriola Professional Centre co-owner and Manager Verna Gregson, and Gabriolan Tony Gibson, Meadowcroft said she had been recommended to enrol in an Integrated Health Network (IHN) Wellness Program administered by the Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) out of the Twin Beaches medical clinic.

Meadowcroft said this program was "open to all Gabriolans, provided they were recommended by a physician".

Meadowcroft said she was asked if she was a patient of the doctors at the Twin Beaches clinic. When she said she was not, she was advised to go the Medical Arts clinic in Nanaimo, as the doctors at Twin Beaches were at capacity and not taking on any new patients, she said.

Meadowcroft said she asked why she could not be referred to the program by her own doctor, Dr. Jim Mackenzie, and she was told "he was different". She said she couldn’t see why she would have to go to Nanaimo to participate in the program when there was one very close to where she lived.

Meadowcroft said the nurse who comes to Gabriola to implement the program said the society is administering a $16,000 grant from the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) to participate in the program, "and therefore had a say in who could benefit from the program". She said there have been "several" complaints about the program and VIHA "does not plan to renew the program with the society next year".

Reached for comment, VIHA spokesperson Suzanne Germaine said all such grants are administered through a strict selection process, and decisions about these applications will not be made until May.

Dave Innell, chair of the GHCS Data and Services Committee, said: "The (IHN) is a VIHA program offered across Vancouver Island. The program targets individuals over the age of 50 with two or more specific chronic diseases such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or congestive heart failure. The objective of the program is to reduce hospitalisations by encouraging eligible patients to take greater responsibility for managing their care through nutrition and life style counselling and introduction to a range of exercise related activities".

IHN counsellors meet regularly with eligible Gabriolans, Innell said, and the society "operates a contract that provides the access to a range of exercise-related activities on the island".

Innell said potential IHN patients must be assessed and referred by a physician registered with the program. He said Mackenzie has declined to do so. As a result Mackenzie is ineligible to refer patients to the program, he said.

Reached for comment Mackenzie replied by email: "When I researched the question of joining the IHN, I determined that my patients were already well served by excellent health agencies in Nanaimo and there was no need for duplication via the IHN. As stated in my letter to Lisa Holloway, operations leader, Integrated Health Networks, Primary Care and Chronic Disease Management, VIHA, ‘In the absence of IHN my patients continue to avail themselves of a variety of services in Nanaimo. That list includes but is not confined to the following: dietician, mental health including Bounce Back program, substance abuse counselling, diabetes clinic, renal disease clinic, hepatitis clinic, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease clinic, seniors’ outreach program, long term care, home and community care and others’. These are the services for which I believe there is an actual demonstrated need among the patients I serve".

Mackenzie wrote: "The IHN approach of referring patients out to a multitude of intermittent practitioners, who are unfamiliar with the ‘complete patient’, that is, the full patient history, diagnosis and prognosis, is not one which I espouse". He said he agreed with colleagues Dr. Sarah Kredentser (president), and Dr. Calvin Gutkin (chief executive officer) from the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) who believe: "The place where people receive their care should feel like a home, give patients a sense of comfort, confidence and support" (Kredentser), and: "CFPC envisions medical homes that are much more comprehensive than any of the array of team-based primary care delivery models that are now being established in various provinces, such as physician-integrated networks, family health teams, integrated network clinics and family health centres" (Gutkin).

Mackenzie also said he is writing to IHN to see whether there have been any changes to the program since 2010, and has asked that VIHA communicate directly to him, and not through the GHCS or any other intermediary about such programs.

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Approach to clinic endeavour ‘cavalier’: Gregson

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 14 2011

Verna Gregson: Room at Gabriola Professional Centre. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

"Although I am an owner and a manager of a health centre on Gabriola, I strongly support the creation of a second centre. I think that is only right and proper … I simply question the cavalier way in which the endeavour has been approached".

At a meeting at the Rollo Seniors’ Centre on North Road, Gabriola Professional Centre (GPC) co-owner and manager Verna Gregson summed up her thoughts about a proposed community-owned urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical clinic as above. Gregson added that more facts, figures and research are needed. "If we are all owners, we need to be given much more information so we can be responsible owners", she said.

As previously reported, the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) has been raising money to build a community-owned health clinic. Robert Lee Rooks of Potlatch Properties has offered to donate 4.1 acres at the top of Church Street, and has applied to have the property rezoned from Forestry to Institutional 4.

Raising the issue of how membership is defined, Gregson noted that the foundation says that all adult Gabriola residents who agree with the foundation’s purpose – "to improve the primary health care services for the residents of and the visitors to Gabriola Island, British Columbia" - are automatically members.

Gregson said: "membership fees can be assessed to cover costs", which members could be expected to pay. She noted that there is no membership list, members don’t know what their responsibilities are, and most have not agreed to be members.

Kelly Brooks: Room to grow at Twin Beaches as well. ~ Photo by Chris Bowers

Kelly Brooks, owner of the Twin Beaches Mall in which the health society is renting space, said the society agreed to give him the "first right of refusal" to either build a larger building or expand the current one if more space was needed. He said he also offered to subdivide, develop, and lease-to-sell property at Twin Beaches to the society. He said the society never contacted him about his offer.

Brooks said that the society currently has 2,200 square feet at the Twin Beaches mall, 400 of which are being sublet. He said the UTR could be 600 square feet bigger right now with the use of the sublet space. He added that it would not be expensive to add another 1,800 square feet to the Twin Beaches clinic.

Brooks said that Twin Beaches clinic is paying about $50 base rent per day. He said this is very low, and if this rate is too expensive for the society they would not be able to afford to maintain a new building.

Brooks added that it will cost more than $1 Million to build the clinic proposed by GHCF.

Gabriolan Shena Meadowcroft, one of the meeting organisers, said that an engineer had called her to say it would cost a minimum of $2.5 million to build the clinic to post-disaster standards.

Gregson said members of the society asked in 2006 whether GPC could offer them space. She said at that time the society was looking for 1,000 square feet (sq. ft.). She offered them 1,200 sq. ft. with a possible expansion of 750 more sq. ft., another doctor’s office when one of the GPC doctors retired, and the option to build 1,000 sq. ft. of new space on the property, she said.

Gregson said she was approached again in 2008 for space. She said she put together two proposals so that the society could either move in all at once, or move in incrementally and on an as-needed basis. She said she was told that the society would get back to her for another proposal but they did not. She said society members have never accepted her invitation to tour the GPC facilities.

Meeting attendees from the health society said they wanted a community-owned clinic so that they would not be at the mercy of rent increases. Gregson said there are multiple-year leases available for commercial renters that "any intelligent tenant" would require from their landlords.

Meeting attendee Jamie Lawrence wondered if the land on Church Street is the right land for the clinic. He said mistrust of Rooks might be "infecting the whole process to some extent with this land".

Lawrence also asked if there was a business plan for the clinic. He said a leased property financed by a landlord might be the right way to go but that couldn’t be known without seeing a business plan and projected cash flow.

Health society volunteers said that information about where to find the business plan could be found at the Volunteer office at Folklife Village.

Meeting attendee Liz Cicoea noted that if the clinic is not built in five years, the rezoned land will have to be returned to Rooks. She said that if land is to be donated it should be done "from the heart, not from the pocket book … or we should go and get proper land that is zoned institutional that is accessible the way we want it to be".

Meeting attendee Marilyn Geater said her late husband Fred Geater had done due diligence in looking at "every single plot of land that has been suggested" for the clinic.

Another attendee said the clinic was "the best idea ever" but didn’t see why it had to be moved and expanded. "We have an adequate clinic right now", he said. He said if it needs to be expanded that this could be done at Twin Beaches "for a fraction of the money we are trying to raise to build another new clinic".

Meeting Attendee Jacinthe Eastick asked if the GPC or Twin Beaches clinics were built to post-disaster standards. Gregson said no. Eastick asked if an UTR facility were built anywhere if it would be required to be post-disaster. Gregson thought it would.

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Community clinic ‘Five year completion clause’ could stymy Trust

Flying Shingle, Monday, February 7 2011

A possibly problematic clause in a “pledge agreement” between Potlatch Properties and the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) probably can’t be directly addressed by the Local Trust Committee (LTC), Islands Trust Planner Kaitlin Kazmierowski said Friday.

As previously reported, the agreement concerns the transfer of lands for a community clinic, and includes a provision that if the clinic is not “completed” within five years the land will revert back to Potlatch Properties.

Concerns were raised at a January special meeting of the GHCF regarding the need for a definition for the word “completed” in the agreement. Currently no such definition exists in the agreement.

Asked if a definition of “completed” could be included in the rezoning bylaw, Kazmierowski said by email: “Since the pledge agreement is not directly linked to the bylaws, it wouldn’t make sense to reference it in the bylaws. The LTC cannot use its zoning regulations to give meaning to private agreements”.

Asked if the LTC could require that the definition be present in the agreement before approving the bylaw, Kazmierowski said: “My understanding of the pledge agreement is that the LTC cannot require any changes to it. It is for information only”.

Kazmierowski also said it was not possible to create a requirement in the bylaw that the donated land must revert back to the Forestry zone should the clinic not be completed within five years of transfer of title. She explained: “Zoning applies to the land and not the owner of the land. The nature of a rezoning is one of permanency, and that is essentially the reason why these types of applications can become long and involved; it is a big decision, and one that requires a lot of thought and consideration about long term implications. The LTC expressed at the last meeting that this was one of the reasons for making the (Institutional 4) zone so specific; it is a way of managing risk to ensure that only the use that community supports will be permitted on the property”.

Kazmierowski added: “At the last LTC meeting staff were directed to explore the possibility of requesting a “legal undertaking” from the applicant’s lawyer as a way of giving further confirmation that the title be transferred to the GHCF if the rezoning and subdivision are approved. She said a legal undertaking would be “something that the LTC could require specifics of”, but as she was still investigating the mechanism she could not say whether it could address the lack of definition in the pledge agreement.

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Clinic re-zoning moving to APC and Public Hearing

Gabriola Sounder, Derek Kilbourn, derek@soundernews.comMonday, January 31, 2011

The Medical Clinic rezoning application, which has proposed bylaws 260 and 261 on it, will be referred to the Advisory Planning Commission and, pending the APC’s response and editing done by the Local Trust Committee, will then be sent to a public hearing, to be held some time at the end of Feb. or early March.

This was decided by the Trustees at the LTC meeting last Thursday, Jan. 27.

As of yet, no major changes have been made to the bylaw proposals since it passed first reading in Dec. 2010 other than staff tightening up measurements on where the lot lines will be once (if) the clinic parcel is subdivided from the parent parcel of 80 acres.

Trustee Sheila Malcolmson reiterated a warning she has said before with bylaw amendments, saying, “The fact we are doing all this detail change does not mean it will be the bylaw of the day or that it will even be adopted at the end of the day.

“Almost every application we get goes to public hearing. I want people to hear that none of this implies either the planning staff or the LTC are saying go, go, go.

“It is detailed so we can have the best thing to knock around for the public to comment on.”

In going through the application, Planner Kaitlin Kazmierowski stated that all the documentation requested of the applicant by the Trustees has now been provided by the applicant’s agent to the satisfaction of staff, including the pledge agreement which states the property will be donated to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation by current owner Potlatch Properties in the event it is rezoned Institutional 4 and subdivided from the Forestry-zoned parent parcel.

Sheila asked if staff could look in to whether a legal undertaking could be set up, similar to one done when the 707 Community Park became public land.

The agreement would basically outline that as soon as the land is subdivided it becomes the property of the community, or in the case of the clinic, property of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation.

“I’d still be interested in knowing if there is a way to have that commitment made,” Sheila said.

“The LTC is trying to hear concerns about ownership, being able to guarantee it.... If there is a way, I’m interested.”

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Health Care Foundation answers critics questions

Gabriola Sounder, Derek Kilbourn, derek@soundernews.comMonday, January 31, 2011

Brenda Fowler, Chair of the Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) and Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF), presented to the Local Trust Committee at the latest LTC meeting last week, clearing up what she called misconceptions out there about the Foundation membership.

“Our constitution states, any resident, who supports the objective of the foundation, is a member - those who don’t support the organization, are simply not members. There is some miscommunication that we haven’t provided clearly - simply a combination of two things.

“One, you are a resident and two, you support the objectives

“If you don’t want to be a member, you need to take no further action.”

She said there are also some misconceptions about use of the facility, be it in the interim facility at Twin Beaches Mall or the proposed facility on Church Street.

“There are no fees and no requirement to use the facility. Access to the services at the clinic, reflect the values of the Canada Health Act.”

She said there has also been question about why the GHCF is seeking to build and own rather than rent from existing spaces.

“This has been a topic of interest for many years. Over the past five years we have discussed with all three of the then existing commercial land owners the use of their sites. None of the discussions were fruitful, none of the possibilities stood up to the business case we have built.

“After evaluating all of the options, we made the decision that community ownership is better for the medical services and urgent care we want to offer.

“The financial objectives of a not-for-profit building owner are more conducive to the objectives of recruiting and retaining a family doctor willing to work on-call.”

Brenda explained the Boards of the Society and Foundation have looked at the options and voted to proceed with the Church Street property.

“This gift makes the project a reality. If we had to raise the funds to cover the cost of purchasing property that had the correct zoning the project would be out of reach of this community for several years to come.”

During the Town Hall portion of the meeting, Gisele Rudischer has asked why there was a 500 foot road extension included in the proposal, stating that such an extension on Church Street could be very costly and unnecessary if the Trustees were willing to have access to the Clinic kept closer to the existing Church Street.

Chuck Conner, Project Manager for the proposed clinic explained the road allowance was being included in the subdivision, but the entire 500 foot extension was not actually going to be constructed.

“The dedication is available should we need it. We certainly don’t intent to build more, but it is there should we need to extend it.”

There had also been some question as to whether, as a medical clinic, the building would be constructed to post-disaster standards.

Chuck explained standard building code requires that after an earthquake, a building should still be standing, but not necessarily functional.

A post-disaster rating would mean the clinic building would be constructed to still be functional after an earthquake.

Chuck said, “post-disaster wasn’t something we were aware of until recently. It makes sense for this, we’re working on this.”

He added, “As I look around the province, communities have or are developing a community clinic. We’re not breaking ground here, we’re doing something many communities are doing. Hopefully the design of the building will carry on in to the next generation.”

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Opponents to Clinic re-zoning present petition to Trustees

Gabriola Sounder, Derek Kilbourn, derek@soundernews.comMonday, January 31, 2011

Shena Meadowcroft and Tony Gibson, two opponents of the current rezoning proposal for the Community Medical Clinic, presented to the Gabriola Local Trust Committee last Thursday, Jan. 27.

Shena and Tony are currently collecting signatures on a petition which states, “We, the undersigned, urge the Islands Trust to dismiss the zoning application # GB-RZ-2010.2 for rezoning from Forestry to Institutional. We do not support the sacrifice of forested lands when there are affordable and viable alternatives available.”

Their focus on Thursday was the pledge agreement provided to the LTC by the Gabriola Health Care Foundation in which the current owner, Potlatch Properties, pledges to donate the land to the GHCF in the event the land is rezoned Institutional 4 and subdivided from the (currently) 80-acre Forestry-zoned property.

Shena asked why the document is not dated, who the signatories were and why there are no names on it stating who the signatories were.

She also asked if the parties signing it represented the parties (Potlatch Properties and GHCF) named at the the top.

She said, “If not, the document is useless. Also, who witnessed the signatures?

“What proof do we have that Potlatch is the owner? Could it be held by the owner personally or another of his corporations?”

She also asked if there has been a background check on the property and Potlatch to ensure their are no pending or future liens on either the property or the owning company.

“There are so many questions around this pledge agreement; there are so many about this application in question. We ask the Trust stop this process until we have some of these questions resolved about this donation and also about the process this is taking within the Trust. This community has serious concerns.”

Tony presented the petition as it stands right now, since being started in early Dec. 2010, with 69 signatures on it.

He added that he feels he would have more people willing to sign their names to the petition, but that there is a fear of going against something like the clinic.

Tony said, “Phone everyone in the phone book and ask them, confidentially, if they are in favour of this application. I would encourage you to do this.”

Gabriolan Jeremy Baker also presented as a delegation, saying he believed that there is a need to clarify how people are made members of the Society and that he also believes, because currently all Gabriolans are considered members, Trustee Sheila Malcolmson is in a conflict of interest around the decision because she is an island resident.

He asked how it was the first reading of the rezoning bylaws (260 and 261) were done outside of a regular Trust meeting, by email or phone.

Jeremy also insinuated there are other purposes planned for the clinic and he is worried about the term “chronic care” being included, asking if that meant there would be some kind of rehabilitation or drug recovery program happening at the clinic.

Louise Bell, LTC Chair, answered Jeremy’s questions saying the first reading was given as a resolution-without-meeting, something the LTC is permitted to do for a first or second reading.

Jeremy had asked for clarification on why Trustee Deb Ferens had excused herself from the rezoning decision, citing she had a conflict of interest. He wanted to know what that conflict was.

Louise said she knew the reason behind Trustee Ferens’s exclusion and was not willing to go in to more details beyond what had already been explained in Dec.

Louise added, “The criticism has been leveled that Trustee Malcomson would have a conflict of interest. When you have no further interest than anyone else in the community you are not considered to have a conflict of interest.

“We’ve had conversations with our senior management and I’m sure they haven’t made errors in that way.”

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URGENT TREATMENT ROOM -- Trust seeks ‘Legal undertaking’

Flying Shingle, Monday, January 31, 2011

The Local Trust Committee (LTC) has asked staff to look into obtaining a “legal undertaking” - or a lawyer’s professional word - that land intended for housing an urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical clinic will be transferred to the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) upon subdivision.

At their Thursday meeting at the WI Hall trustees were responding in part to concerns raised by meeting attendees who questioned the effectiveness of a “pledge agreement” between the GHCF, and Dr. Robert Lee Rooks’ Potlatch Properties Ltd.

According to GHCF President Brenda Fowler, the agreement is meant to ensure that title of the property will be transferred to the GHCF upon subdivision of the land. The agreement requires that the clinic be completed within five years or the land ownership will revert to Potlatch.

Concerns were raised by meeting attendees at the December LTC meeting about whether the transfer of lands from Rooks to the GHCF would be ensured. The GHCF agreed to provide a signed copy of the “pledge agreement” to that effect at Thursday’s meeting and did so.

As previously reported, Rooks has offered to donate a 4.1 acre parcel of land at the top of Church Street for the proposed clinic once the property has been rezoned and subdivided. The land would be rezoned from Forestry to Institutional 4.

Meeting attendee Shena Meadowcroft said she had spoken about the pledge agreement to real estate lawyers who said to be effective the agreement required witnessed signatures, a legal description of the lands being pledged, confirmation that the land is owned by Rooks and is unencumbered, and an assurance that the land will not be sold in the five year completion period.

Meadowcroft said neither of the lawyers she spoke to were familiar with pledge agreements, and wondered if they were legal in Canada. She asked that the LTC stop the rezoning application process until these questions were answered.

Planner Kaitlin Kazmierowski presented a surveyor’s map indicating the dimensions of the land to be severed that she would “lock the final subdivision to the size of the new lot”.

Gabriolan Gisele Rudischer noted that the definition of “completed” in the pledge agreement includes roadways. Noting that a map of the proposed subdivision shows a road running alongside the property, she said that such a road would be expensive and unnecessary. She said Gabriola bylaws only require 100 feet of road frontage and the LTC has the ability to waive that requirement.

Meeting attendee Chuck Connor thought the road dedication was just there in case an extension was needed.

Rudischer also said that the building should be built well enough to function “post-disaster”. Connor said that made sense, but the idea of building to those specifications had not been brought before the GHCF until recently.

As previously reported, the proposed bylaw makes the UTR the clinic’s principle use. Medical offices and an ambulance station are allowed as accessory uses. Kazmierowski noted that this could be taken to mean that the ambulance station would only service the community clinic.

The LTC asked that staff make a proposal on what to do about the ambulance station use, and how to incorporate the survey map into the bylaw, and to refer the bylaw to the Advisory Planning Commission. The Committee agreed to review the revised bylaw at a special meeting in February.

The LTC also asked staff to arrange a Public Hearing for the bylaw.

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Gabriolans question process, plans for clinic

Flying Shingle, Monday, January 31, 2011

Meeting attendees at Thursday’s Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting at the WI Hall continued to express concerns about future plans for a proposed community-owned urgent treatment room (UTR) and medical office building.

Attendees also said that many people who oppose the clinic are afraid to say so publicly.

As previously reported the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) plans to build a 4,300 square foot facility to expand an UTR now housed at the Twin Beaches mall and to provide medical offices to attract on-call doctors to the island.

Dr. Robert Lee Rooks has offered to donate a 4.1 acre parcel at the top of Church Street. He has applied to rezone the parcel from Forestry to Institutional 4, with the understanding that ownership of the new lot will be transferred to the GHCF once the property has been rezoned and subdivided.

Membership list

Meeting attendee Jeremy Baker spoke to a request by the LTC that the foundation ensure that no clinic assets can be sold “without a majority vote of the community”. He said the foundation had passed a resolution that such a sale could not occur without the majority consent of members present at a general meeting called to propose such a sale.

Baker quoted the GHCF as saying that the membership list for the foundation is the Gabriola phone book. He said that the resolution passed by the foundation was different from the request made by the LTC. He said there are 2,688 people in the phone book, but only about 40 people came to the GHCF’s last general meeting.

GHCF President Brenda Fowler said that health society members are defined as any resident of Gabriola who supports the objectives of the organisation: “to improve primary health care services for the residents and visitors of Gabriola Island”. She said both residency and support of the society’s objectives are the requirements for membership. Those who don’t support those objectives are not members, Fowler said, and no further action is required for those who don’t want to be a member of the society.

As previously reported, in the past the GHCF has said all residents are automatically members and those who don’t wish to be must write to the board to rescind their membership. Fowler said Thursday that the society had “mis-communicated” about this in the past.

Meeting attendee Nancy Crozier lauded the efforts of the GHCF but said a new (4,300) square foot building was unnecessary - particularly as other venues are not being fully utilised. “The duplication of services and the excessive space that they are allowing for those services is cutting into local business”, she said.

Baker said that the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) had given the foundation $65,000 to use for planning, and the foundation had given some of the money to doctors instead.

He said that the community clinic will be focused on chronic care as well as urgent treatment, adding that the foundation was given money that was supposed to be used for a year-long chronic care program, and the money was spent in three months. As previously reported, Dave Innell, chair of the GHCS Data and Services Committee, reported in April 2010 that the Expanded Wellness Programme – the program in question - ran out of money more quickly than planned because neither VIHA nor GHCS had anticipated so many people would want to use it.

Baker also asked why a questionnaire conducted by the foundation had a number of questions on drug use. He said the plans for the new clinic include offices for drug addiction and mental health services. He said the clinic will also include a drug clinic.


Meeting attendee Tony Gibson said that he was circulating a petition regarding his concerns about the clinic but that people told him they are afraid to sign the petition because they “were told if you want to endanger lives go against the clinic, but if you want people to live, go for the clinic”.

Meeting attendee Shena Meadowcroft said that she was told by a health clinic board member that she would be held personally responsible if anybody on the island had concerns about the clinic.

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READ MY LIPS -- No new taxes says health society president

Flying Shingle, Monday, January 10, 2011

READ MY LIPS -- No new taxes says health society president “It is not our intention at any time to raise money through taxation, period, end, full-stop”.

At a Special General Meeting of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) on Thursday, President Brenda Fowler answered questions about whether the foundation had plans to apply to put a community-owned Urgent Treatment Room (UTR) and medical clinic on the tax base. Fowler said that the foundation had considered whether to ask for a referendum to “ask the tax base” to pay for the clinic, and had decided instead to raise the funds and build the clinic and then own the clinic as a community”.

Fowler also said that a community member has promised to loan the foundation, which has so far raised $750,000 towards the $1 million it needs for the clinic, the remainder of the money needed to begin building the clinic on schedule if permission to rezone lands on the end of Church Street is granted. She said the offer has not been made by Dr. Bob Rooks, who has offered to donate the land for the clinic once the property has been rezoned and subdivided.

A meeting attendee pointed out that even though such a mortgage would be provided to the clinic by a supporter, it was wisest to plan for the possibility it could be assumed by someone who is not.

Fowler also said the foundation would like to begin building “sometime later this spring”.

As previously reported, the Local Trust Committee (LTC) has drafted a bylaw that would rezone the clinic parcel to “Institutional 4” and make the medical clinic a secondary use to the UTR.

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Health Society protects clinic ownership

Flying Shingle, Monday, January 10, 2011

Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF) members voted 45 to two Thursday for a constitutional amendment meant to ensure land proposed for an Urgent Treatment Room (UTR) and community medical clinic cannot easily be sold to private interests.

GHCF President Brenda Fowler said the amendment (see box below) was made to the foundation’s constitution, rather than the bylaws, in order to make the new policy “unalterable”.

As previously reported the GHCF called a special general meeting at the Roxy in response to community concerns that the clinic could be sold to private owners in the future. These concerns were raised at the Dec. Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting while trustees were considering a GHCF application to rezone a four acre parcel at the top of Church Street that would be severed off Forestry land for the clinic.

As previously reported, Dr. Bob Rooks has offered to donate the land for the proposed clinic once the property has been rezoned and subdivided.

At the LTC meeting Fowler declined a request that the foundation put a covenant in place for the land, but suggested instead that they change their constitution to require that a majority of members must agree to such a sale at a special general meeting called for that purpose. Trustee Sheila Malcolmson recommended that the foundation make those changes as soon as possible.

At Thursday’s meeting, attendee John Pierce explained that covenants must be held by an agency. He said that the only Gabriola agency authorised to hold a covenant is the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT). He said it would not fit with GaLTT’s mandate to take on such a covenant.

Meeting attendee Tony Gibson asked why a letter of agreement to ensure the property will be transferred to the foundation once the subdivision is completed had not been signed. Fowler said that the letter was in process but that “lawyers love to take the time that it takes”. She said that the agreement will be signed before the Jan. LTC meeting.

Meeting attendee Shena Meadowcroft said she was glad to hear that an agreement was ready to be signed. She said in the past GHCS Treasurer Harvey Graham had told her that “you couldn’t actually have an agreement if it was a gift, and … we would actually honour the good will” of Rooks.

Meadowcroft noted that even if the agreement is signed, if Rooks changes his mind about transferring the land, all the foundation can do is take him to court. For this reason she was concerned about the proposed resolution as it was based on a parcel of land not yet owned by the foundation, and “based on a future that doesn’t exist”.

Fowler said community members have donated $758,000 towards the clinic knowing they were taking a risk and investing in a future project, but “if you don’t take a step, you don’t create the future”. She added that the foundation does have a way of returning the money if the clinic is not built.

Fowler also said that the resolution had been made particular to the Church Street land because the foundation may acquire other lands in the future, and they didn’t want to encumber the possibility that such potential lands might be put to other uses besides a medical clinic.

Meeting attendee Jamie Lawrence asked about a requirement stipulated by Potlatch Properties Ltd. that if the clinic is not constructed in five years the property would return to Potlatch. He asked if the definition of “constructed” was clear. He said: “I wouldn’t want Rooks to come back in five years and say ‘you haven’t finished the parking lot and I want the property back' ".

Fowler thought that “finished” meant upon occupation, but said she would have to check to see how it is defined in the agreement. Other GHCF board members said that Rooks will be required to pay for whatever improvements that are made to the property.

Meeting attendees voted against amendments to the motion proposed by Gabriola Ambulance Society member Katherine Gordon to remove language that applies the resolution specifically to the Church Street property, and to require a 75 per cent majority vote to allow the sale of the property. Members did agree to remove a phrase describing the requirement to return the land to Rooks if the clinic is not completed.

Gabriola Health Care Foundation resolution

“Resolved that the constitution of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation be amended as follows:

A new paragraph 3 be added to read as follows:

“Any land located at the top of Church Street, Gabriola (the land currently legally defined as a portion of the South ½ of the Northwest � of Section 19, Gabriola Island, Nanaimo District), donated to the Foundation, and any medical clinic constructed on such land by or on behalf of the Foundation, may not be sold or otherwise disposed of by the Foundation without authorization granted by a resolution passed by a majority of those members attending an extraordinary general meeting called to specifically consider such disposition. Such extraordinary meeting may only be called after a three or more month community consultation process to be carried out as determined by the directors at the time. This provision would not apply to the situation of returning the land in accordance with the provisions of the original Donation Agreement made between the Foundation and Potlatch Properties Ltd”.

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Members approval required if Health Foundation ever sells clinic land

Gabriola Sounder, Derek Kilbourn, derek@soundernews.comMonday, January 10, 2011

Should the Gabriola Health Care Foundation ever choose to sell or otherwise dispose of the land on which it is proposing to build the Medical Clinic, it will need to have a meeting where 50% plus 1 of the attending members would have to approve it.

This according to an amendment made to the Foundation’s constitution at a special meeting held this past Thursday night.

The motion on the amendment, which was voted on by secret ballot, passed with 45 of those present in favour and two voting against it.

Brenda Fowler, President of the Gabriola Health Care Foundation (GHCF), explained that by putting the amendment in to the constitution, it is in the constitution until/if the organization disbands.

Whereas if the change were put in to the bylaws of the Foundation, it could be reversed at the next meeting.

The land is currently the focus of a re-zoning process with the Gabriola Local Trust Committee (LTC). Trustees had requested at the Dec. 16 LTC meeting the GHCF make it so that the Medical Clinic would be maintained as a public and community resource and would not, as some critics of the clinic proposal have suggested, be sold in to private hands or operated as a private or for-profit clinic.

During the discussion on the amendment, it had been proposed that the wording be changed to include all properties which might be owned by/donated to the GHCF.

Brenda explained the GHCF board had discussed that possibility.

She said if there was additional lands donated to the clinic, which were not suitable for the use of the Foundation, it would perhaps be more useful for the Foundation to be able to sell future lands for the monetary value - to then be reinvested back in to the Clinic property.

Brenda also explained that the current Board wanted to ensure there was no fettering of the future board and community, so the only restrictions within the language on the sale involved the three-month community consultation process and then a meeting where those present would vote with changes requiring a vote of 50% plus 1.

One of the other requirements the GHCF was asked for by the LTC was a document that ensured the donor of the property would indeed turn over ownership of the property if it is re-zoned for the medical clinic.

Brenda was asked, because the amendment specifically mentions the donor, Potlatch Properties, if that document had been signed.

She answered the document has not been officially signed yet, but would be ready in time for the next LTC meeting being held on January 27th.

Asked why it wasn’t ready in time for the January 7th meeting,

Brenda said the lawyers were getting the document written and such things take time, but that it would be ready for January 27.

One of the agreements on the land donation is that if the clinic is not ‘completed’ within five years of the donation time, the property reverts back to Potlatch Properties and owner Dr. Bob Rooks.

From those gathered, Jeremy Baker asked what would happen if the building were three-quarters done but not within the five years, would the Health Authority or the taxpayers would be asked to foot the bill to complete the clinic? Or what would happen to the money invested to get the clinic to the three-quarters built stage.

Harvey Graham, GHCF Treasurer, said, “If Rooks wants to take the land back, he has to reimburse us for all the money we’ve spent including the cost of the clinic.”

Brenda added, “We are 100% confident that we are going to build this building and be in it and we will be able to provide medical next spring.

“The Foundation decided several years ago in the strategy asking should we go in a referendum and ask the tax base to provide this and we decided that no, that was not what we would do.”

Brenda was also asked by another member, “What I want to know is once it is up and running, if a dirt poor person can come in and get help and not have to pay a fee or surcharge.”

Brenda - as you walk in to the clinic today, you will walk in to the clinic in the future. No surcharge, not a private institution, no user fee, no nothing. Under the Medical Health Act, as it is today, you’ve got it.”

The paragraph under debate for addition to the Foundation constitution was, “Any land located at the top of Church Street, Gabriola (the land currently legally defined as a portion of the South ½ of the Northwest ¼ of Section 19, Gabriola Island, Nanaimo District), donated to the Foundation, and any medical clinic constructed on such land by or on behalf of the Foundation, may not be sold or otherwise disposed of by the Foundation without authorization granted by a resolution passed by a majority of those members attending an extraordinary general meeting called to specifically consider such disposition. Such extraordinary meeting may only be called after a three or more month community consultation process to be carried out as determined by the directors at the time. This provision would not apply to the situation of returning the land in accordance with the provisions of the original Donation Agreement made between the Foundation and Potlatch Properties Ltd”

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Discussion continues on community clinic

Flying Shingle, Monday, January 3, 2011

Community members continued to offer both support and reservations Dec. 16 about an application to rezone Forestry lands to allow for an Urgent Treatment Room (UTR) and medical clinic at the top of Church Street off North Road.

As previously reported, the Local Trust Committee (LTC) has drafted a bylaw that would rezone the clinic parcel to “Institutional 4” and make the medical clinic a secondary use to the UTR. Dr. Bob Rooks has offered to donate the land for the proposed clinic once the property has been rezoned and subdivided.

At the LTC meeting at the WI Hall, Gabriola Health Care Society (GHCS) President Brenda Fowler, declined a request that GHCS submit a covenant that the clinic would not be sold to private interests. Fowler said that the clinic has already operated for almost four years at its current Twin Beaches location, and there is “a long tradition of similar community owned clinics” throughout the Islands of the Salish Sea. She said it was unlikely that the clinic would be sold to private interests.

As previously reported the GHCS did however, call a special general meeting for Jan. 6 to enshrine in their constitution a requirement that such a sale would have to be okayed by a majority of members at a general meeting. Fowler noted that all Gabriolans are automatically members of the society.

However Advisory Planning Commissioner Jacinthe Eastick said that would not provide the same protection as a covenant. She said the “15 or 20” people likely to show up at a general meeting are a very small representation of a population of 5,000.

A representative of the Chamber of Commerce spoke on behalf of chamber members to “support the community emergency medical clinic”, at the proposed location. He said they also supported having an ambulance station and helicopter pad at that site.

Tawny McLochlan Capon said that there is room for the community clinic even though there is another doctor’s office in the downtown area. She said the four acres would allow the clinic to grow with the community.

Morri Mostow spoke on behalf of the Gabriola Ambulance Society and in favour of the rezoning. She said the “definitions contained in the zoning of the land for the new clinic should be worded so as to give (GHCS) the maximum amount of flexibility to adapt to evolving conditions in the future”. She also supported the inclusion of an ambulance station and helicopter pad, said that both the UTR and medical clinic should be primary uses, and that a medical lab be included in the uses allowed by the medical offices.

A meeting attendee who identified himself as a person with disabilities was concerned that GHCS is “always fundraising”. He asked if it was possible to ensure in writing that the clinic would never charge extra fees for service even if it ran out of money. He noted that the Vancouver Island Health Authority would not support the upkeep of the building.

Gabriolan Tony Gibson asked whether there was a written agreement between Rooks and GHCS that Rooks will turn over the land once it has been rezoned and subdivided. Brian Henning, who is acting as an agent for Rooks, said there was a “pledge agreement” to transfer the property. LTC Chair Louise Bell asked if the agreement was available to the public. GHCS Treasurer Harvey Graham said the agreement had not yet been signed.

Gabriolan Gisele Rudischer said that the community, or at least the LTC, should be allowed to see that agreement. She said: “I think that’s one of the real concerns that people do have out there. It’s not about being against the clinic it’s just that they want some sort of security”. Eastick also expressed concern that such an agreement had not been signed.

The LTC made the provision of the agreement a condition of rezoning.

Rudischer said that it was clear that the application has community support. She commended Fowler on addressing the fact that “there are some concerns out there and that they should be dealt with, and that you are making that effort. I think that is really a good thing for this community”.

Noting that there is a doctor at the Gabriola Professional Centre, as well as those at the Twin Beaches, Eastick said that there should be a stipulation in the application that all Gabriola doctors “who are willing to go on call should be part of that clinic”.

Eastick was also concerned that “some people still think they are getting an emergency room”, when actually “they are getting bigger and better facilities with the same programs”.

There is already existing, correctly zoned property (on the EMCON) lands that is for sale, Eastick said, which made the rezoning of resource land unnecessary. She said the community has not been asked whether it would be willing to purchase those lands.

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