EDITORIAL: Time to say thanks for hospital tower

Still lots we don't know about the project, but plenty of time for questions later

After years of watching cities like neighbouring cities like Vernon and Kelowna receive major improvements to their hospitals, Penticton’s turn has finally come.

By now, you’ve heard Premier Christy Clark delivered the long-awaited announcement this week that a major expansion of Penticton Regional Hospital is now set to proceed.

We know the centrepiece of the $325-million project will be a seven-storey ambulatory care tower, complete with medical school, walk-in clinic and new in-patient beds.

We don’t know if the promised oncology centre, helipad and parkade next door that were all included in the tower’s concept plan are still in the final plan.

Details like that will emerge in time. But right now, we should celebrate, just as Janice Perrino surely is.

Perrino, who leads the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District and the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation, has long advocated for the project.

She wiped tears of joy from her eyes as she told reporters the announcement was like “Christmas in July.”

Perrino is among a group of local leaders, including  Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, who worked behind the scenes to convince the B.C. government to give the city the hospital it truly deserves.

Doctors, who launched a campaign of their own, should also be congratulated, as should members of the public who supported them.

Some would argue government shouldn’t have to be pressured to build and maintain modern hospitals, but let’s face it: There’s only so much tax money to go around and everybody wants some.

With the doors to the new tower not expected to open for five years, there will be plenty of time for questions in the days to come.

Right now, we say thanks everyone who worked tirelessly towards this announcement.