The four Elk Valley governing bodies – Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford, and the Regional District of the East Kootenay (RDEK) Electoral A – are pooling their resources to finance the search for a new surgeon.
The collaborative initiative is in preparation to replace the current surgeon serving the area, Dr. Colm Nally.
“Our surgeon, Dr. Nally, is wanting to retire this summer sometime. He won’t leave our community without a surgeon, so if we can’t find one, he won’t retire,” said Mike Sosnowski, Director of Area A for the RDEK. “Talking with Dr. Clark and Dr. Michal, they said they felt we should start recruiting and they would do it, but they didn’t have any money to do it. So I made the motion that I would put in $10,000 if the other three communities in the Elk Valley – Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie – would do the same and they agreed. So we are funding that up to $40,000 if required.”
The money will be managed by the City of Fernie, but a recruiting team comprised of local doctors will be able to rely on the pool of money to search for a new surgeon for the area.
“When the four local governments realized that we had to step up to the plate and when we share things, the expense, it isn’t onerous for any one local government,” said Sosnowski.
The funds from the RDEK came from a different tax imposed on local coal mining operations.
“The coal mines in the Elk Valley are taxed a little differently than other properties. They are taxed through a tax sharing agreement that pre-determines how much of their payment goes to each of the communities in the Elk Valley. A portion of that comes to Electoral Area A, so that’s the fund that this pot of money and grant is being paid out of,” said Shawn Tomlin, Chief Financial Officer for the RDEK.
Sosnowski said that they are hoping to have a replacement for Dr. Nally by the time he is set to retire this upcoming summer.