Horgan and Furstenau campaign on Island, talk about new hospital for Cowichan Valley

Both NDP Leader John Horgan and Sonia Furstenau, leader of the Greens, campaigned on the Island Sunday.

Horgan was in Duncan Sunday morning, promising to continue work on a new hospital in the Cowichan Valley that he said would open in the next few years if the NDP is elected.

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He said construction would begin next year on a hospital three times bigger than the current one, which was built in 1967 and has 134 beds.

Horgan was joined by Rob Douglas, the NDP candidate in Cowichan Valley.

Horgan first announced plans for the new hospital in 2018. A statement at the time by Island Health said the planning for a replacement hospital was a collaborative effort between the provincial government, Island Health, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District, the municipalities of Duncan and North Cowichan, local First Nations and local stakeholder groups.

Furstenau criticized what she called the “politicization” of work done by the Cowichan community to bring a new hospital to the region, saying it “exemplifies what is wrong with B.C. provincial politics.”

Furstenau said she was told by Health Minister Adrian Dix weeks before the election was called that the plan had been approved and work was moving forward on the hospital.

“It is disappointing, although perhaps not surprising, to hear Mr. Horgan try to instil fear in people about a project that has been moving forward since the government announcement in 2018. This was a community-driven process that began several years ago. The hospital is a success of so many hardworking people in Cowichan who have come together to push this project forward,” she said in a statement.

Furstenau was in Chemainus Sunday afternoon for the campaign launch of Chris Istace, who is running for the Greens in Nanaimo-North Cowichan.

Istace is a small business owner and “a strong advocate for building a stronger, more sustainable and cohesive community,” Furstenau said.

Istace joins Furstenau and Adam Olsen, who currently represents Saanich North and the Islands, as candidates on Vancouver Island for the B.C. Green Party. The island’s remaining 11 ridings do not yet have candidates for the party.

The B.C. Liberals announced a new candidate in Esquimalt-Metchosin. RJ Senko, a public affairs consultant, will challenge NDP incumbent Mitzi Dean.

Andrew Wilkinson was in Vancouver on Saturday, with a promise to provide free flu vaccines to all British Columbians if elected.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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