HALIFAX – On Thursday, Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new community outpatient centre in Bayer’s Lake as part of ongoing QEII redevelopment.
But the decision has been quickly followed with criticism over how much was paid for the 15-acre lot, and the inaccessibility of the site.
Global News reports the government paid $500,000 per acre, while the land is assessed at just under $42,000. A government spokesperson says that cost includes work that needs to happen before construction of the clinic can begin. That’s scheduled to start next winter.
The land is owned by Besim Halef, a liberal party donor and a member of the QEII Foundation’s board of trustees. But Paula Bond with the Nova Scotia Health Authority says the site was chosen through an above-board process.
“There were many sites that were identified,” Bond told Global News. “It was brought to our clinical steering committee that consists of physicians and other clinicians. It was narrowed down to two areas, and this was the final site.”
There’s also concern over the accessibility of the outpatient centre. While the premier says the location will provide easy access for those outside of Halifax who use Hwy. 102 or 103, others believe the decision will hurt those without a vehicle.
The Halifax Cycling Coalition’s Kelsey Lane says putting this clinic in a spot that’s far from downtown and on sometimes unreliable bus routes flies in the face of HRM’s own Integrated Mobility Plan which aims to promote walking, cycling and bussing.
“There’s a huge disconnect in terms of the alignment of strategies for this,” said Lane. “Where you’re placing your key amenities, whether you’re placing them or not in a place that’s accessible by these modes is so important to actually increasing them.”
Lane points to the irony she sees in the situation, as she says inactivity is one of the major health concerns in Canada.
McNeil said he does plan to discuss transit accessibility with HRM.