Citizens in north central Calgary could be a step closer to a long-awaited health facility with provincial funding proposed in Budget 2023.
The province announced $3 million over the next three years for planning and design of a North Calgary / Airdrie Regional Health Centre as a part of the proposed budget. There’s been a healthcare facility promise in the area going back nearly 20 years.
The lack of urgent care was highlighted last summer when AHS was forced to close the urgent care clinic in Airdrie. That forced many citizens to find health care at the Foothills or Peter Lougheed hospitals or points beyond.
This is also an area that has been void of civic or provincial infrastructure spends for years. It lacks a robust transit network, dog parks and adequate recreation facilities (Vivo is the only facility serving roughly 120,000 people). It was only recently that the area got a long-awaited new North Calgary High School.
David Hartwick, a director with the Northern Hills Community Association, said he’s optimistic something will happen. He’s seen this story before, however. He said back in 2006, they’d proposed a healthcare centre for the area. It was even on the province’s major capital projects list.
He said it “quietly disappeared” in 2009.
“I’m optimistic. But putting a little bit of money into planning doesn’t mean a lot. We’ve seen money go to planning before and then disappear,” he said.
“We’ve seen this actual project approved before, and then disappear.”
Hartwick said there’s been a site set aside along Country Village Way that’s never been used. It’s not certain that would be the preferred site for this project.
‘Critical need’ said area councillor
Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian it was great to see the province willing to make these kinds of investments. Seconds and minutes to get care make a lot of difference to citizens, she said.
Right now, if they need care they have “quite the commute.”
“It’s been an identified critical need for this area for many, many years,” Mian said.
“I think it’s fantastic news and I look forward to working with the province and the city on how we can make this a priority.”
Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who repped Ward 3 before being elected as mayor, credited Mian with her advocacy on the project. The mayor is also very familiar with the plan.
The mayor was intrigued that there was also an announcement for an interchange investment of $1 million at QE2 and Highway 566. Tying the two projects together was speculative, she said.
“If you combine those two things together, it looks very interesting to me that we might be able to get a North Central Calgary healthcare facility that also assists Rocky View Country, as well as Airdrie,” the mayor said.
Though, the mayor wasn’t sure exactly where it might be located.
“I think it sent a pretty clear signal to the provincial government that Airdrie, Rocky View County and Calgary would all benefit from such a facility, and we weren’t at odds with each other competing for the same funding,” she said.
“We are happy to have it within a co-located area where we can all access it.”