CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – The hospital board for Campbell River and Comox Valley will not build commemorative water features at this time.

The decision came after a presentation and a discussion at the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board meeting on Thursday afternoon in Campbell River.

Union Bay resident Liza Schmalcel gave a presentation at the board meeting, asking the board not to go forward with the commemorative fountains.

“While I’m not opposed to a commemorative item, I am opposed to the project being comprised of water features,” Schmalcel said. She listed a number of factors, including risks to toddlers and children who may come and play in the area, risks of electrocution, and people possibly slipping and falling in the area.

Schmalcel added that the money being used for the fountains could be used for hospital operational costs instead.

“It’s the board’s fiduciary responsibility to ensure that public money is spent on advancing the objectives… to enhance quality of care for patients, especially the elderly and Aboriginal populations.”

Director Edwin Grieve said the project’s intention may have been lost in the shuffle.

“We weren’t looking for Italian marble. We were just looking for a place maybe 100, 120 square feet that would have privacy fencing, lighting, mesh, that would be apart from the hospital and the hubbub,” Director Grieve said. He said the intent was to give people who are grieving or having a hard time a space where they can find some peace and quiet.

Director Grieve added that the water features would not have taken up too much of the hospital board’s budget. Each hospital campus was allocated $50, 000 to put decorative fountains by the front doors.

Director Will Cole-Hamilton said that while the cost for the commemorative project was not too much, that would not be the way people would see it.

“I think the instinctive reaction, what we’ve heard from people, is “my family member is in a hallway, there aren’t beds, there isn’t room.” Everyone else is going to see the cost of that… and it will actually cause people more pain,” Director Cole-Hamilton said.

Other board members suggested smaller alternatives to the decorative water fountain, and some also suggested making use of spaces such as The Gathering Place in Courtenay or other existing rooms and gardens within the hospital grounds.