The Township of Esquimalt is on its way to approving a new urgent care facility within a proposed mixed-use residential building.
On Tuesday council heard the second reading for Pacific House by Lexi Development at 899 Esquimalt Rd. Developers are applying for an amendment to the Official Community Plan and a rezoning application, as the current height limitation in the area is six storeys.
In exchange for the approval of a 12-storey development, Lexi will provide a two-storey, 3,600 square foot urgent care facility space on the first two floors. The clinic would be part of a covenant that states that no other units – residential or commercial – will be filled until the clinic is staffed and operational.
“We understand that we’re taking a lot of risk by making the residential component secondary to the building,” said Babak Nikbakhtan, CEO of Lexi Development. “We have to work with physicians to make sure that the health care centre is up and running.”
Nikbakhtan added that new construction technology will allow a majority of work to be done off site, which will accelerate the building process and trim down completion time from 18 months to a year. In the meantime, Lexi added that as part of its amenity package it would provide three temporary mobile care clinics to be stationed around the Township until the clinic is ready to operate.
The mobile clinics would essentially be portables or converted transportation containers, and could hold up to two rooms.
The proposal for a clinic comes shortly after a report presented by Dr. Eileen Pepler found the Township of Esquimalt to be in desperate need of more physicians and primary care options. According to the report, up to 7,000 Esquimalt residents don’t have access to a primary care physician following the closing of two medical clinics in the area.
In addition, the report found that the population of Esquimalt and the surrounding catchment has a higher incidence rate of smoking, drinking, obesity, arthritis, high blood pressure and anxiety or mood disorders than the national and provincial average.
“It’s quite exciting to have a developer come forward with a centre space like this,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins. “Someone is stepping right to the plate on this…. It’s a significant amenity.”
Should the project be approved, Desjardins noted that more health care options would still be needed, including X-ray clinics and labs.
“I’m hopeful that we will see these kind of options come forward , because we clearly need more facilities,” Desjardins said. “People are sort of thinking it’s all about getting physicians, and that’s a part of it but in Esquimalt we have the added challenge of not having large enough or suitable space for primary care centres.”
The development will now go forward for a public hearing. A date has not been finalized, but it is likely to be in the next month.
Following a public hearing, Lexi will need to take the feedback and then apply for a development permit before shovels can hit the ground.
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