OPINION: We need hospital expansion, but don't be mad that we're "just getting a courthouse"

March 18, 2017 - 12:34pm Updated: March 18, 2017 - 1:38pm

I’m not certain of very many things in life, but here are a few:

- The sun rises in the east and sets in the west

- The Cleveland Browns will always be bad at football

- Whenever something good happens, people will find a way to complain about it

When it comes to the last point, you need look no further than how some Red Deerians responded to this week’s provincial budget.

Finally, after more than a decade of lobbying from local lawyers and City of Red Deer officials, the province announced $97 million over four years for a badly-needed new courthouse.

Make no mistake; this is a major victory for Red Deer. Not only are lengthy delays in legal proceedings very costly and frustrating, there are other potentially devastating effects.

Just last month, after nearly five years, Nathan Desharnais was finally sentenced to life in prison for killing Talia Meguinis in our city. However, it wasn’t until after his charges were nearly stayed due to “unreasonable delays.” Thankfully, they weren’t and justice was served. But it once again highlighted a major problem for Red Deer and central Alberta.

For years, even more so since MacLean’s magazine listed us as one of Canada’s most dangerous cities, residents have vented their frustration about crime in Red Deer. It’s a regional problem that our local police detachments are working hard at. But another big part of addressing the issue is ensuring charges against those facing them are dealt with in a timely matter. A new courthouse will help ensure that happens.

Now back to my point about people finding something to complain about. While courthouse funding was announced in this week’s budget, money to expand Red Deer Regional Hospital was not.

Instantly, comment sections everywhere lit up, the jist being, “Why are we getting a new courthouse when we need a new hospital instead?”

Folks, the fact is we need both.

I am 100% on board with hospital expansion. The Central Zone needs it in the absolute worst way, made obvious through the doctor-led “Diagnosis Critical, Your Central Alberta Regional Hospital” and “Central Alberta Needs Cardiac Catheterization” campaigns.

As shown with the decade-long fight for a new courthouse, things don’t happen overnight. But there’s absolutely no way we can wait another decade for hospital improvements. Falling off the province’s priority list over the past few years is unacceptable. Too many lives are at stake.

Stand up and be heard. Your response through online petitions and overflow attendance at public meetings are a great start. Keep it up and don’t give up. Help our local health practitioners and elected officials in their call for improved healthcare in central Alberta.

Just don’t be mad that we’re getting a new courthouse.

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