Breaking news: Premier announces funding for new ambulance facility

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Chances are this week’s visit by Alberta’s Minister of Health to Slave Lake was supposed to be the ‘big reveal’ on a new ambulance facility. But Premier Jason Kenney “let the cat out of the bag” a week earlier.

So here it is: Money has been allocated for new quarters for EMS in Slave Lake. It’s one of the bigger items in a $50 million commitment the province made last week to upgrading health facilities across the province.

Kenney dropped the news at the spring convention of the Rural Municipalities Association on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17). M.D. of Lesser Slave River Reeve Murray Kerik was quick to pass it along, via email. Somebody (Kenney or Kerik or both) had rounded the figure up to $5 million. It’s actually $4.7 million, confirmed later that morning by Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman in a phone call. He was pretty pleased.

“It is big news,” said Warman. “We’ve been lobbying 10 years for this.”

Don’t expect sod to turn any time soon. Warman said the meeting with the Minister this week was expected to get into the ‘where’ and ‘what,’ but there’s plenty of work to be done yet and decisions to be made. But it appears the $4.7 million is secure.

The town has some ideas, Warman said, and he hopes the Minister will have time for a tour. Either way, “we’ll be working with them (Alberta Health Services) in the coming weeks,” he said.

The town’s old fire hall had been suggested as a possibility; another possibility is expansion of the existing ambulance bay at the hospital.

Requests for comment from people in the EMS field were turned down or deferred.

Slave Lake’s EMS quarters are cramped and have long been acknowledged as inadequate.

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