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Hospital district requests board to board meeting with IH on refusal to backend fund hospital project

The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District (CCRHD) will be seeking a board to board meeting with Interior Health.

That after Interior Health rejected the CCRHD’s request to allow the CCRHD to backend fund its contributions to the Cariboo Memorial Hospital rebuild in Williams Lake.

CCRHD board chair Bob Simpson said local ratepayers throughout the Cariboo Regional District contribute 40 percent to all of the major and minor capital projects both for Northern Health and Interior Health.

Now faced with two major projects at GR Baker and Cariboo Memorial, he said the Board would avoid borrowing if both health authorities ask for their money at the tail end of those projects.

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Simpson said while Northern Health agreed on the possibility of backend financing, Interior Health has rejected the request.

“If we put the money in first to that very large project, it means we would have to go borrowing, it means we’d have to pay interest rates, it means that our taxation authority may have to be adjusted going forward especially if there are other capital projects that also come during that same period of time,” he said.

Simpson said they believe by talking to the Board Chair and the Board itself at Interior Health that they can get them to ask for their money towards the end of the project which is the right thing to do.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District’s cost share for the redevelopment of Cariboo Memorial Hospital is around $87 million.

Without backend financing, the first significant cash requirements for the Cariboo Memorial Hospital project occur in 2021 and then continue through 2025.

The CCRHD is forecasting a need to borrow $3 million in 2024 to meet its commitment to the project and maintain enough reserves to cover other major capital items that may arise. This will result in the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District forgoing approximately $4.1 million in interest earnings and incurring an additional $405,000 of interest on a loan of $3 million financed over five years.

Had Interior Health agreed to the CCRHD’s request, the CCRHD would start making payments towards the Cariboo Memorial Hospital project starting in 2023. This would allow the CCRHD to continue earning interest on significantly larger reserves and go through two additional requisition periods before experiencing any cash outflows on for the project.

Mayor of Wiliams Lake Walt Cobb said he is concerned about what the CCRHD’s 40 percent cost-share will look like at the end of the day.

“I wasn’t very happy when I saw this,” Area D Director Steve Forseth said. “I think Northern Health can do it, I think Interior Health can do it. If we can avoid the possibility of additional taxation as a result of a loan I think we should push it, and if we see a negative response to our request I think we should consider meeting with Health Minister Dix at UBCM following this.”

(Note: Listen to the author of this report with CCRHD board chair Bob Simpson in the audio file below)

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