Frustrating slowness compared to speed of action

The Sylvan Lake region’s explosive growth in recent decades has not led to the recognition our community’s 12,000 plus people

The Sylvan Lake region’s explosive growth in recent decades has not led to the recognition our community’s 12,000 plus people should have so we have to raise our voices.

Having lived in many Alberta communities, we’ve seen the strength of the community fabric where there are strong, deep, historic roots. Things like hospitals were started years and years ago and still remain. Retail businesses like car dealerships and farm implement companies along with all the peripheral businesses have existed equally as long because these communities have been regional hubs to the agricultural community drawing from miles around.

We think of communities where we’ve resided like Vermilion, Vegreville, North Battleford and Stony Plain. Their bases are broad and diverse. They have businesses which have served many generations under ownership of the same families. And with that has always been the owners’ active involvement in business, culture and political life.

That’s the only thing that’s lacking in Sylvan Lake, in our mind.

If we’d been considered a regional centre rather than a tourist resort 50 or 60 years ago, our current status and amenities would be much more enhanced.

Look at Innisfail or Lacombe or Rocky Mountain House.

These are communities with deep roots, well planted and with visionary people in leadership roles for many, many years, active and influencing the future direction of their communities.

While Sylvan Lake has not lacked from the visionary people in leadership, there’s just been too few of them until our recent growth spurt which we’d suggest started about 20 years ago (in 1991) when our population topped the 4,000 mark.

But by then the world was changing. Business decisions were being made differently. Health care decisions were being made differently. We were, in essence, too late to reap the rewards some of the other communities in Alberta have enjoyed.

That’s why our residents and neighbours need to be more vocal and more passionate in impressing everyone who will listen that we need a more comprehensive model for health care.

The committee that has been working on the urgent care centre campaign for the past year has done an excellent job in preparing their information, galvanizing the population and trying to move this agenda through the frustratingly slow decision making of provincial authorities and government.

We know we’re not going to get an emergency centre or hospital — not yet. But an urgent care centre is certainly a short term solution to tide us over as our population continues to increase.

If this were strictly a business decision being made by a private enterprise the value would have been recognized long ago and we’d have better services for our residents.

Yet we have to wait for Alberta Heath Services to integrate Sylvan Lake’s needs with those of many other Central Alberta communities to determine if we’ll even make the cut for a short term or long term solution to our medical needs. We’ve been overlooked in the past. Will it happen again?

Our doctors have been lobbying for years without the desired success. A committee of 18 people have been presenting their case for the past year.

We’re told the health minister realizes there’s a need in Sylvan Lake. But now we continue to wait for someone to act on that need.

The ludicrous part of the wait is the huge benefit an urgent care centre in Sylvan Lake could provide to people accessing Red Deer Regional Hospital and the staff there.

We believe that point’s been made. We believe it’s time for Sylvan Lake’s rallying cry for an urgent care facility to be heard.

We also believe all our organizations and residents need to get behind the urgent care committee’s recently announced fundraising campaign to show that we’re willing to put up our money — and money always talks — to get the result we need.

Please consider what you can do and then act to support the call for an urgent care centre for all our residents and visitors.

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