Almost three and a half years ago, Vancouver Coastal Health unveiled plans for the Silverstone Care Centre as the answer to an urgent need on the Sunshine Coast. The long-term care facility would replace the aging Shorncliffe and Totem Lodge in Sechelt and provide 20 desperately needed additional beds. It would be owned and operated by Trellis Seniors Services, a company with a proven track record in residential care. The location would be a site on Derby Road in West Sechelt. That was the story.
Then everything went wrong. Fierce opposition to the for-profit model sprang up in the community. Sechelt council stalled the application, ignoring the pleas of local doctors who spoke to the critical need for more long-term care beds. Trellis abandoned Sechelt and made a deal with the Town of Gibsons to build the facility on Shaw Road. That plan sat in limbo for months awaiting government approval. It never came.
Instead, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced early last year that all parties were close to an agreement to build the facility on shíshálh Nation lands.
That was 21 months ago. Last Friday, this newspaper learned from Chief Warren Paull that Trellis had pulled the plug on the shíshálh Nation site and was going back to its original plan to build on Derby Road in Sechelt. So it’s back to square one. How could this happen?
Trellis had 21 months to finalize its lease agreement with the Nation. Yes, there were talks between VCH and the unions going on during the first year, but that does not explain why it took the company 21 months to figure out that it could not reach a deal on the land. What about the urgent need for long-term care beds? Why has the B.C. government been paralyzed in the face of all these delays? Who’s in charge?
The local Protect Public Health Care group has already been proven right. When vital public services are placed in the hands of private companies, business comes first. The public good comes a distant second.
We now have clear evidence of this – and our provincial government is wearing it.