by Mary P Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News
Saturday, October 27 ~ LANGFORD. Langford Mayor Stew Young says there will be a tax exemption for new primary care offices in his fast-growing city.
Part of the strategy of providing health care in municipalities is to attract top level physicians and health care providers to communities.
Langford is taking the lead with a no-tax approach that has served well for the city in other sectors of the economy.
“If you build a medical health office — physicians or otherwise — we will never charge you taxes for that,” Stew Young told West Shore Voice News on Friday October 26 at the announcement of the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre at 582 Goldstream Avenue in Langford.
“We won’t tax you, if you’re providing services to our residents,” said Mayor Young about doctors and other health care providers who would come to Langford to set up shop.
Attracting major retail with the no-tax incentive has rooted a strong economy in Langford, including local job creation and underpinning the demand for and growth of local housing over the last 15 years.
In addition to the availability of physicians to the clinic environment starting November 5 there will be more offices built at 582 Goldstream Avenue to provide space for more doctors by April 2019, said Marko Peljhan, Executive Director, Geography 4, Integrated Health Services, Island Health.
That was also welcome news for Island Health and clinic leaders.
Peljhan said the broader west shore area (including the full range of Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, View Royal, and Sooke beyond to Port Renfrew) sees about 30,000 people without a primary care physician — about one in 83 people are without a doctor. About 15,000 of those are in the Langford area.
The Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre is Phase 1 of a multi-phase approach to dealing with addressing that challenge, said Peljhan: “We’re meeting the overflow need and attaching you to a physician. We need more in Sooke and closer to Royal Bay, and something else in Langford. As we build more housing we need to consider the health care needs.”
“This is the best news for health care in our region for 25 years,” said Mayor Young. “With the problems of opioids, health care and addictions… this is a good first step”.
Mayor Young says Langford wants to be part of seeing the provincial government “take care of the other 10,000 people” in Langford who are still without a physician.
Langford’s mayor is pleased with the new urgent care facility opening in his fast-growing city: “We can handle 5,000 out of the 15,000, here in Langford.” That will support an upcoming provincial announcement in the next six months that every person in BC has access to health care, said Langford’s mayor. “So there is not have/have-not in health care.”
“This is a first step and the teamwork approach is really good. We’re going to finish it off and make sure nobody is left behind. So if you build a medical health office (physicians or otherwise) we will never charge you taxes for that. We will make sure that we are part of the solution,” said Stew Young.
“We know the need is here. We want to help make that happen. We know how important it is for our community. Public health and safety, looking after young families and seniors is really important,” said Young.
Dr William Cunningham — a Langford-based primary care physician who has been president of the Doctors of BC and now works in the ER at Saanich Peninsula Hospital — said at the primary care centre opening yesterday that “municipalities need to create an environment that attracts doctors”.
Deborah Cracknell, Director, Community Health Services for Sooke, Esquimalt and the West Shore, said Island Health is “getting in front of” the need for more primary health care in the fast-growing Langford area. She conducted a tour of the new westshore facility for VIPs, guests and media.
The City of Langford was given accolades by Island Health for facilitating speedy construction of the new Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre, which saw building permits promptly issued. Construction was completed within two and half months.
Premier John Horgan gave a nod to Stew Young, saying Langford is “the best city” and the fastest-growing city on Vancouver Island. As Mayor for now 26 years (and heading into another four-year term), Stew Young and his long-time council have developed today’s thriving metropolitan Langford from the ground up.
“We want our residents to be happy,” said Stew Young.
Since 2005, Horgan has been the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca (which presently includes Langford, Highlands, Metchosin, Sooke and the Juan de Fuca areas of East Sooke and west of Sooke to Port Renfrew, and has included Metchosin in the past).