A new replacement hospital for the Cowichan Valley remains a top priority for the regional district. (Citizen file)

A new replacement hospital for the Cowichan Valley remains a top priority for the regional district. (Citizen file)

Big priorities on tap for CVRD board’s final year

Hospital, high school, homelessness all make the list

Successful Union of B.C. Municipalities meetings in September have left the newly re-elected CVRD board chair hopeful for progress on some of the regional district’s more ambitious projects as they enter the last year of their term.

Jon Lefebure said Tuesday he and other directors’ talks with the new NDP provincial government’s representatives at the annual UBCM convention were positive.

“I think it’s quite an exciting time,” Lefebure said. “I think we have quite an opportunity with this new government. We found at UBCM that they were open and eager and they want to show that they can govern and get things done. We approached them with our list of priorities and I’m hoping this year we’re going to make a lot of progress on them.”

Among the priorities: a new hospital, a new high school and a new approving officer.

In terms of the hospital, “We are hoping to get our concept plan done by the end of the year and then we’ll be taking that to the Ministry of Health and Minister [Adrian] Dix and he indicated that he would facilitate the creation of the business plan moving forward so that’s a big step and we’re hoping that comes to fruition,” Lefebure said.

Another visible health priority is the ongoing issue with addiction and homelessness in the region and the CVRD board is not ignoring it.

“We’re looking forward to working with Minister Judy Darcy on initiatives that will help us manage that problem in our community,” Lefebure said. “Most communities across the country, I understand, have some form of that problem.”

A new Cowichan high school has been in the works for years and Lefebure noted he’s “pretty excited about the possibility of that moving ahead.”

The board chair also explained a regional approving officer would change the way development proceeds around the Cowichan Valley as well.

“Right now the approving office is with the ministry of transportation and infrastructure and we’ve made the case that we merit having a regionally supported approving officer who is more in touch with the consequences of proposed developments and so on,” he said.

It’s going to be a busy year for local politicians as they ramp up their efforts to get their goals accomplished before the next election.

“There are a number of things we’re working on and we really hope that we can make progress during this last year of our term,” Lefebure said.