The Airdrie Health Foundation and members of the community will receive a long awaited wish – a new 24 hour health care facility.

In front of the Airdrie Community Health Centre Monday, Alberta Minister of Health Stephen Mandel made the announcement that the government is committed to the proposed $24 million health park presented to legislature by Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson on March 17th.

“They’re going to build a 24 hour facility which we will lease and we will operate and/or we will buy into,” says Mandel. “There’s a variety of options that we’re looking at.”

Mandel says the province can partner with a $4 million investment and outfit the facility with adequate equipment by Alberta Health Services, or they can choose to contribute more to the project – but that negotiations still have to take place.

“Either way we have the capital set aside to do it, it’s just a matter of the community coming out with their plan and we’ll fit ourself (AHS) into it.”

The proposed health park is a three storey building with access to 24 hour health care on the main floor, and space for private health companies and health practitioners on the upper levels. A 20 acre plot of land for the health park has been donated by local philanthropists.

“The details are still being hammered out but we have the commitment now from the province to partner with us,” says Mayor Peter Brown. “We have private business, and we have governments coming together; philanthropy to effectively solve the problem that we’ve had.”

“This is a community initiative. It’s driven by the community, it’s being solved by the community and it’s just a pleasure to watch it all happen.”

Minister Mandel says partnering with Airdrie is incredibly unique and that this new facility could be a model moving forward for future communities in need.

“When you have communities that are willing to be this innovative, it really is heart warming for us and Alberta Health Services and the government to make sure we partner with them. That’s really what’s important.”

With money waiting on the sidelines, Mandel says the government is ready to build as soon as possible.

“The next steps are up to the community, we’re committed either way we’ll evaluate it once they get the final package together and we’ll move in as quick as we can. The funding has been set aside to do what we need to do in a couple of different aspects.”

“I’m thrilled, a little bit humbled it’s finally come to fruition, it’s taken a lot of work and a lot of time but just really proud of the community,” adds Brown. “We’re going to be able to build a facility that’s good for us today, tomorrow and the future and that’s what I’m really looking forward to seeing.”

Bradley Jones – airdrienews@goldenwestradio.com