Local officials are expressing frustration at the lack of progress for the F.W. Green Home expansion plans. Google Streetview photo.

Local officials are expressing frustration at the lack of progress for the F.W. Green Home expansion plans. Google Streetview photo.

Local officials frustrated with pace of F.W. Green Home expansion plans

Local officials are expressing frustration as expansion plans for a long-term care facility remain in limbo.

The business plan for the expansion project, which would double capacity at the F.W. Green Home facility in Cranbrook from 60 beds to 130 beds, has been submitted to the the province for approval, according to local officials.

“We’re waiting on the province,” said David Wilks, the Mayor of Sparwood and chair of the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board.

Meanwhile, the expansion project’s budget has reportedly skyrocketed since a business plan was first pursued by the regional hospital board four years ago, rising from a conservatively estimated $30 million to now allegedly over $100 million, according to Wilks.

In an emailed statement, the Ministry of Health confirmed it is “actively reviewing” the business plan that has been submitted by Interior Health.

“As with all capital projects, details regarding scope, schedule and budget will be announced after the Business Plan has been approved,” reads the statement.

The statement also notes, without providing specific details, that more long-term care projects are expected to be announced in the coming months.

Broadly speaking, the F.W. Green Home expansion plan involves building a new facility on a vacant piece of land adjacent to the current site, moving residents into the new building, and rebuilding or renovating the current facility.

According to Statistics Canada data, Cranbrook’s seniors population (65 years of age or older) rose by 23 per cent between the 2016 and 2021 census years and reflects approximately one-quarter of the city’s population.

In comments from a video recorded at the F.W. Green Home and posted on social media two weeks ago, Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka said that costs for the project have ballooned amid “dragging of the feet” by the Ministry of Health.

“It’s the kicking of the can down the road that delays these projects and with all delays comes extra costs,” said Shypitka, in an interview with Black Press Media.

He noted a 306-bed long-term care facility was recently announced in Colwood on Vancouver Island at a cost of $224 million. Six days later, plans for a 240-bed facility were unveiled in Vancouver, with an unattached budget figure in the government news release, however, it is reportedly pegged at $207 million.

Shypitka expressed frustration that other jurisdictions in the province appear to be getting more attention.

“You gotta wonder, is it studying business models or is it just political will, and I think it’s the latter,” Shypitka said.

The Ministry of Health noted both projects in the emailed statement, while also highlighting 495 beds previously announced for the BC Interior in 2020 — 140 beds in Kelowna, 100 in Kamloops, 90 in Vernon, 90 in Penticton and 75 in Nelson.

None were earmarked for the East Kootenay region.