By Andrew Mitchell
A journey that began more than five years ago after the sudden
death of a local skier at last reached its end in the parking lot of the
Whistler Health Care Centre on Friday.
David McLean, chair of the CN Railway board, presented the
Whistler Health Care Foundation with a cheque for $100,000, which will go
towards the installation of a CT scanner in Whistler, the only one in the Sea
to Sky area.
“I remember we were involved in the campaign to expand the
health care centre a few years ago and build a helicopter pad here, which has
been put to very good use over the years,” said McLean. “(CN) is very concerned
with safety issues, it’s large on our agenda — the number one priority on
our agenda these days. This is a good investment for us, not just for the
safety of the community but for all our employees who live and work in Sea to
McLean is no stranger to Whistler and its health care needs. He
has been coming to the resort since 1968 and has owned a place here since the
1970s. His family is also invested in Blackcomb Helicopters.
CN gives out about $6 million annually in donations throughout
North America, and through McLean helped to fund the Whistler Health Care
Centre in the past during the capital campaign to expand the centre and build a
The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority agreed to fund the
ongoing operation of the scanner, but would not contribute the capital funds
needed to buy the scanner or expand the health care centre.
That left the Whistler Health Care Foundation to raise nearly
$1.3 million, and they came within a few hundred thousand by the April 1
deadline set by the health authority. At that point they asked for the deadline
to be extended for last minute fundraising efforts, and CN’s donation last week
helped them reach the goal.
Foundation chair Marnie Simon thanked CN and all the
contributors in Sea to Sky that helped to raise the funding.
“It’s really been an amazing response from the community, and
outside the community too with people like CN,” she said. “This is a piece of
critical care equipment we have needed for many years, and having it here will
help doctors to save lives in the corridor.”
Roughly 40 per cent of the scanner’s purchase cost, or
$509,000, will be covered by Sea to Sky Regional Hospital District. Last fall
the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation kicked off the fundraising drive with a
donation of $275,000, followed by $50,000 from the Houssian Family Foundation,
$40,000 in memory of Dave Mathews, $25,000 from Geordie Trusler, $12,080 from
Dean Alexander, $20,000 from the Royal Bank, and $15,000 from the Downey family
holding company. The Squamish and Pemberton health care foundations also
contributed $30,000 and $28,000 respectively. When timing became a problem, Jim
Duncan stepped in with a donation of $51,500 which allowed the project to move
ahead before the foundation heard from CN.