Mike Starchuk said he was “flabbergasted” when he heard new B.C. Liberal leader Kevin Falcon wants to move the proposed Cloverdale hospital.
“Kevin was the MLA for Cloverdale for many years,” Starchuk told the Cloverdale Reporter, “And to take a look at a hospital project that’s in the works … I was shocked to say the least.”
Starchuk, the NDP MLA for the riding of Surrey-Cloverdale, said Falcon’s comments, in a radio interview, made “little sense” to him. “In his interview on Red FM, he said it needs to be near Skytrain.”
I'm saddened to hear @KevinFalcon say Cloverdale is "not a great location" for the new Surrey hospital and that he doesn't want to build it here. People in our community have made it clear they need this hospital. #bcpoli https://t.co/om6QOGvki5— Mike Starchuk (@MikeStarchuk) February 8, 2022
The NDP posted a snippet of the tape to their caucus soundcloud page where Falcon tells Red FM’s Harjinder Thind Feb. 8 that he stands behind bringing a second hospital to Surrey, but said the Cloverdale location (by KPU) is less than ideal.
“I think the challenge, even frankly with the NDP wanting to put one in Cloverdale, is it’s not a great location in terms of transportation access,” Falcon said on Red FM. “It should be up along the Skytrain line somewhere.”
In the Red FM interview, Falcon said the biggest problem in B.C. isn’t putting buildings up, it’s finding staff to work at them. He said if the locations are hard to get to, it increases the problems with filling staff positions.
“I don’t know why he wants to remove it,” added Starchuk. “I can tell you one hundred percent that, during the campaign and when I meet people in the constituency, the hospital coming to Cloverdale is what everybody wants.”
Starchuk said there are two reasons for that: 1.) people who live in Cloverdale need a medical centre and a cancer centre that is close by, and 2.) the precincts around the hospitals always improve with development.
“They’re alive. They’ve prospered. They become hubs,” said Starchuk. “When we take a look at where the hospital’s going to go here, across the street from KPU, it has that same ability to revive an older, stagnant part of Cloverdale into a new, more alive property.”
Starchuk added that he doesn’t know anyone in the riding who would agree with Falcon that the proposed spot is the wrong location. “I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with where it’s going. The wheels are set in motion and it’s time to start moving on with this.”
Later in the interview, Falcon also told Thind he thinks the NDP won’t get any shovels in the ground at all.
“I think they’re just talking about this,” said Falcon. “They’ll keep throwing it out there and people will keep believing their stuff. But, at the end of the day, at some point, I think the public’s going to look around say, wait a minute, we heard that promise first in 2017, then in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021. And here we are now in 2022 and they’re still talking about a second hospital. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
The Reporter reached out to Falcon, but he was unavailable to talk by publication time.
Andrew Reeve, B.C. Liberal spokesperson, reached out to the Reporter to provide comment on the B.C. Liberal’s position on the hospital.
“Building a new hospital in Surrey is a priority for the B.C. Liberals. Our concern is always that the NDP talks about this new urgent care centre for Surrey, but we still haven’t seen any real action.”
Reeve said there was still no funding allocated over the next three years to begin construction for the new hospital and that the 168 beds is not enough to support the increasing needs of Surrey.
“Unlike the NDP with the Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, we won’t cancel a project that’s underway that would make a positive difference in the lives of British Columbians,” he added. “What we need to do is expand healthcare capacity in Surrey in a way that keeps up with the growth of the community as well as ensuring ease of access, ideally near the SkyTrain line, for both patients and staff to get to medical facilities.”