Castlegar Signs Memorandum of Understanding to Bring Better Access to Team-Based Healthcare and 45 New Housing Units

City of Castlegar
By City of Castlegar
October 24th, 2023

The City of Castlegar has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a project which will see improved team-based healthcare that will help attract and retain healthcare professionals and the construction of a new four-storey building with 45 new housing units.

This MOU is the culmination of years of work by multiple City Councils to develop a concept that could deliver on two important community priorities – healthcare and housing.

  • Improving primary healthcare services will make Castlegar a healthier and more liveable community. Creating modern clinical spaces will improve services and help recruit and retain healthcare professionals.
  • Like most communities, Castlegar is in a housing crisis. The City has identified a need for an additional 464 housing units to meet the growing demand for smaller, more affordable, housing units suitable for seniors, young families, and those finding it difficult to enter the housing market.

The early concept for the new building includes one floor of commercial space, including modern clinical spaces for co-located healthcare professionals, and three floors of a mix of housing units. The project will be built at 925 Columbia Avenue where the Pioneer Arena is currently located.

“This is an exciting project announcement for the City which sees us stepping outside of our traditional role to find a creative solution to improve access to healthcare services and ensure the mix of housing the community needs,” says City of Castlegar Mayor, Maria McFaddin. “The MOU allows the parties to advance the project concept by entering the design phase which will see the City working with physicians to determine the best way to co-locate services to offer improved team-based primary care and apply for grant funding.”

“With the Pioneer Arena at its end of life, it was an appropriate time to consider possible opportunities for the land at 925 Columbia Avenue to serve our growing community,” says City of Castlegar Chief Administrative Officer, Chris Barlow. “This City-owned location is the best for this project because it has easy access from Columbia Avenue, is centrally located, close to the Castlegar Urgent and Primary Care Centre, Emergency Room, and Talarico Place, and is a flat site large enough to accommodate the project and future expansion.”

“We are proud to be working within the community of Castlegar,” says Ellen Smart, Castlegar Physician Representative. “We believe this new building will improve access to family physicians and enhance the ability to attract health professionals because team-based care is a very desirable model for new physicians.”

“In 2016, the Regional District of Central Kootenay identified the Pioneer Arena was nearing its end of life and a potential closure was imminent,” says Joe Chirico, RDCK General Manager of Community Services. “With this project now a reality, the Pioneer Arena is scheduled to close following this winter season. We recognize this impact will be inconvenient and we are currently working with ice user groups to identify options to ensure they have ample time to prepare for the 2024/25 season.”

The RDCK will be engaging residents to reimagine the future of recreation in Castlegar, starting in 2024. Castlegar and Area I & J residents will have ample opportunities to share their thoughts on how they imagine the future of recreation in their community, through a community consultation process. Part of this discussion will include the impact on ice users, due to the closure of Pioneer Arena. Stay tuned for more information on when and how you can share your thoughts at engage.rdck.ca.

The City and RDCK recognize the Pioneer Arena is an important space for ice users and has been the result of many community volunteer efforts. The City plans to recognize the importance of this piece of history and would like to hear from people and groups who played a role in building and improving the Pioneer Arena. Please connect with us at info@castlegar.ca.

The City of Castlegar is a service centre in the West Kootenay. The diversified and growing economy is focused on the forestry, energy and mining sectors in the valley, and commercial services in the City. Quality of life features backcountry adventure and an increasingly dynamic urban culture, including the Millennium Park & Ponds and Sculpture Walk.

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