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WFN private hospital construction pushed back to spring 2014

Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie speaks at the WFN Lands and Economic Development Conference, which was held at the Sensisyusten Community Centre Tuesday. - Contributed
Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie speaks at the WFN Lands and Economic Development Conference, which was held at the Sensisyusten Community Centre Tuesday.
— image credit: Contributed

Decisions regarding who will finance Westbank First Nation's proposed medical wellness facility are taking longer than first expected.

In August, WFN Chief Robert Louie told Capital News ground would likely be broken on Canada's first-of-its-kind private hospital at some point in October.

On Tuesday, Louie said construction isn't likely to begin until next spring.

"Right now we're entertaining several financing partners. We're going through that list very systematically, looking at what is the best relationship—who is going to finance this," said Louie.

"(There are) a lot of complexities in that: Equity and debt financing—all those issues come to play."

Louie said he believes those decisions will be made over the winter months, with construction expected for early spring 2014 "at the latest."

Louie was the keynote speaker at the third WFN Lands and Economic Development Conference, which was held at the Sensisyusten Community Centre Tuesday. The conference was attended by 180 delegates.

He spoke about WFN's contribution to the local economy and gave details about several projects, including the private medical facility.

The proposed 100-bed, 200,000-square-foot private luxury hospital is expected to cost $125 million. It will focus on all medical services except emergency, obstetrics and psychiatric care.

Target patients include foreign medical tourists, as well as Canadians who would otherwise leave the country to receive expedited private health care.

Louie said the private hospital will be accompanied by a hotel and banquet centre.

"We have an agreement on the table for 108 beds in the (hotel's) first phase, with a 400-seat banquet facility," said Louie.

"There are plans in the second phase to increase the hotel size by another 50 beds. It's to be situated quite close, or adjacent, to the medical facility."

In August, Louie told Capital News he is confident Johns Hopkins Medicine International will be a part of the project.

"I'm anticipating that the formalized agreement will take place, but it's premature for me to say that it's been definitely done. Everything looks strong for that to happen," said Louie.

Louie has also said he doesn't expect the federal government will take issue with the proposed private health facility, noting "hundreds of thousands of dollars" have been spent on legal advice and analysis.

The WFN chief anticipates 400 jobs will be created through the private hospital's first phase, which could be completed by 2016.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

Twitter: @PatersonWade

 

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