BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
At a special meeting of council last week, a lease agreement between the Municipality and the Red Lake Pharmacy passed a second reading.
The agreement outlines the terms by which the pharmacy will rent the current Red Lake clinic space for a 20-year term.
Municipal councillors and staff alike, as well as Dave McLeod, chair of the Community Health Committee, expressed their enthusiasm for the new venture.
“Many councils would have just sold it (the current clinic),” said McLeod. “That building could have been sold to a number of people in Red Lake for not very much money; end of game. But council had a vision of something else happening.”
“When your term is up for some of you, you should be able to look back on this whole healthcare issue with a lot of pride…It’s legacy stuff; stuff for the future; for the long-term welfare of this community.”
The lease indicates that in years one to five of the term, the annual rent the pharmacy will pay to the Municipality will be $78,330 (utilities, insurance, taxes, etc. will be separate and the responsibility of the pharmacy). The Municipality will use the money for two things: to cover any major maintenance issues that arise with the current clinic (particularly the exterior) and the new clinic currently under construction, as well as the costs associated with recruitment of medical professionals to the area.
And a solid recruitment process as well as the ability to pay for it, are crucial to quality medical services in the area, says McLeod, adding that Goldcorp is no longer giving the $80,000 the company used to give to assist with the recruitment process. Even though Red Lake has enough doctors for the time being, recruitment is a process that never really stops, he adds.
One of the obvious challenges with the agreement is that the current clinic has its own tenants right now. They won’t be leaving until the new clinic is complete, and the date for completion is still unknown.
Talks with the pharmacy began earlier this year after the Community Health Committee held a Request for Proposal process and rejected the three proposals for the current clinic. The proposals came from the Red Lake Hospital, the Red Lake Dental Clinic, and the Red Lake Medical Associates and were not accepted because the committee said they didn’t quite fit its criteria.
Municipal treasurer Brian McQuarrie pointed out that the new venture would never have been possible without a $5 million donation from Goldcorp towards the new clinic.
Update: The lease agreement passed a third and final reading at a special meeting of council on Oct. 14.