Area P contributes $117,000 in gas taxes to health centre

Sun Peaks Health Centre currently operates out of this modular.

Sun Peaks Health Centre currently operates out of this modular.

SUN PEAKS — Thursday (Sept. 22, 2016) was a good day for the Sun Peaks Health Centre as the TNRD board unanimously endorsed by motion to contribute $117,000 from the Electoral Area P gas tax pool to help keep the new facility on track.

The money will make up the difference between an $88,000 conventional HVAC system and an environmentally friendly and efficient geothermal system as originally envisioned in plans for the centre.

The resort municipality and Sun Peaks Health Association are co-funding construction of a brand new 10,000 sq. ft. building to replace the modular building that has been used since 2002.

Most of the funding for the $1.8 million facility is in place. Unfortunately, construction estimates came in higher than expected, forcing the municipality to delay the project while it looked at ways to cut costs or find more funding.

A couple of months ago, the Health Ministry announced a $100,000 grant towards the cost of equipment, which is a big help.

Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine asked me a month ago if I had $50,000 to spare in the Area P gas tax fund that could be directed Sun Peaks’ way, and I was immediately enthusiastic about it because of the benefits to area residents.

Those include not just skiers and permanent Sun Peaks residents, but the people who live up and down the valley between Heffley Creek and the hill such as Whitecroft, Heffley Lake and the Upper Louis Creek Valley, all of which are within Area P.

The study for the medical centre shows that family doctor services will be heavily used by people in all those communities. For many, in fact, it will become their primary centre for healthcare as the range of services is expanded.

A couple of weeks ago, Mayor Raine informed me that he’d hit yet another stumbling block as the estimate for geothermal had come in higher than expected, so I encouraged him to submit a new number, which he did.

That led to yesterday’s motion to allocate $117,000 from Area P gas taxes to the Sun Peaks project.

Of course, while geothermal is cheaper to operate than conventional systems, the payback period will be several years because of the higher installation, but it’s worth it.

Gas tax funds are provided by the federal government and administered in B.C. by the Union of B.C. Municipalities. They’re passed along annually to local governments based on population. In the case of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, its share is then allocated to each electoral area, again based on population.

Electoral area directors get approval through the board of directors for worthy eligible projects. In this case, the difference in the cost between a conventional HVAC and geothermal for Sun Peaks Health Centre is an eligible green project under the energy infrastructure category of the Community Works Fund for gas tax revenues.

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