Town tosses support behind lobby

Efforts continue to have more services at the new High Prairie Health Complex. Chemo treatment and the construction of a helipad are the next services wanted.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Dialysis service, check!

Now it’s time to lobby the Alberta government for a helipad and chemo services at the High Prairie Health Complex.

High Prairie town council decided to join the lobby at its Dec. 10 meeting.

While council had no problem supporting the request from the High Prairie and District Community Health Foundation, other concerns were raised.

“I still have issues with the helipad,” said Councillor Judy Stenhouse. “It should have been included in the hospital [construction].

“That’s a lot of dollars to invest in a helipad. It should have been [Alberta Health Services’] responsibility.”

Councillor Brian Gilroy works with hospital staff through his pastoral work and added hospital administration would love to have it.

“You are not incorrect,” Councillor Michael Long told Stenhouse, calling the helipad a “downloading” of government services to local government.

“It’s not a want, it’s a need. We need that helipad.”

Mayor Brian Panasiuk cautioned council to not lose sight of current needs.

“We haven’t got dialysis yet,” he said, although the government has announced funding for capital and operations.

“Until someone is sitting in that chair … I do not want to forget about dialysis until it’s there.”

Long partially disagreed saying council should lobby for whatever is needed.

“I think we should be hitting them with all three,” he said.

Gilroy advised to help the foundation when possible.

“For them to come forward and say this is our strategy, we need to support them. The more help we have in lobbying, the better for our people.”

Foundation chairman George Keay wrote town council and Big Lakes County council Nov. 26. He asked both councils to spearhead a joint lobby effort.

“Our proposal to you is to meet as a board with both the Town of High Prairie as well as [Big Lakes County] to discuss and share the strategy as we move forward,” wrote Keay.

Big Lakes County agreed at its meeting Dec. 11 to bring forward the issues at the next inter-municipal committee meeting of the Town of High Prairie and Big Lakes County. The meeting will be held early in the new year.

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