by Jacob Boon
Months ago the North End Community Health Centre was asking the province for more funding to fix its collapsing roof. Instead, the north end medical centre will be getting a whole new location courtesy of a 10-year lease from the Liberal government.
The announcement was made Monday afternoon at a press conference held with the Department of Health and Wellness and the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
“This agreement provides us with stability and will allow us to focus on what we do well, provide community care and not have to worry about fixing an old, cramped space,” said NECHC executive director Rod Wilson in a press release.
The new long-term lease will move the NECHC into the Major General Donald J. MacDonald Building at 2131 Gottingen Street. The registered charity will receive 15,000 square feet spread out across two floors on a fixed 10-year lease, with an option for a five-year renewal.
The new location will replace NECHC’s current home at 2165 Gottingen Street. That 40-year-old property is in dire need of repairs, with Wilson likening it to a trouble-plagued Sea King helicopter when he last spoke to The Coast back in January. The building’s roof is leaking, rotten and ready to collapse—a problem estimated to cost as much as $90,000 to fix. That would have been on top of the $500,000 in additional building renovations needed.
The new longterm lease will have the NECHC making payments to Nova Scotia’s Health Authority at “comparable” costs to its current least payments. The property at 2165 Gottingen will be sold and any proceeds invested back into NECHC’s longterm plans.
The North End Community Health Centre relies on government funding for 94 percent of its revenue. According to Wilson, the organization hasn’t seen an increase in that funding for the last several years.
Wilson recently ran for the governing Liberal party in a by-election for the Halifax-Needham riding. He ended up losing to NDP challenger Lisa Roberts, but that doesn’t seem to have had an impact on the NECHC’s popularity with health minister Leo Glavine.
“The North End Community Health Centre has been a model of collaborative health care for the last 45 years,” said Glavine. “We’re pleased to continue to support their work.”
The NECHC formed in the 1970s after the Africville eviction brought an influx of new, lower-income residents to the Gottingen Street area. It employs six part-time physicians and a staff of nearly 50 nurses, nurse practitioners, nutritionists and social workers. Together, they offer general health services, a free dental clinic, nutrition classes, street outreach programs and mental health and addiction services to roughly 2,500 monthly patients.
The move down the road is expected to be completed between April and August of next year.