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The Slocan Valley is an 83km long lake valley located in south eastern BC. There are three small rural villages located along Slocan Lake – New Denver, Silverton and Slocan. As well there are several smaller outlying areas.

Slocan Valley is steeped in history. It was settled by miners attracted by the silver boom in the late 1890’s which lasted well into the 30’s. It has been said that the money taken out of the area in silver, lead and zinc equalled all three major gold rushes combined.

During the World War II years Japanese internees were displaced from their homes on the west coast and moved to the Slocan Valley. Many of them stayed on after the war and became a vital part of the Valley.

The mid 1960’s to 70’s saw another influx of residents – draft dodgers and conscientious objectors from the Vietnam war moved to the area and most of them also stayed and raised families.

The Slocan Community Health Centre was built in 1982 and served as the hospital for the entire Slocan Valley for many years. It was successfully operated by a local society.

In 2002 the entire site was taken over by the Interior Health Authority. In 2003 IHA announced their plans to close the entire facility. After a lengthy and intense battle a combined Valley-wide citizens’ group lobbied the Health Ministry and succeeded in keeping the health centre open until this time.

Over the years the facility has been allowed to deteriorate and until recently two physicians with locum help were able to keep up with patient demand.

Two years ago one of the physicians announced plans to relocate and suddenly we were faced with the same problem many small BC rural municipalities are facing – namely physician recruitment and retention. Visit www.slocanlake.com to see our videos!

The Slocan District Chamber of Commerce decided to expand its long dormant health committee and took the leading role in physician recruitment. After two years of meeting and negotiating with IHA we are still at an impasse. The stumbling block as in so many small, semi remote rural BC towns is retention of our 24/7 emergency services.

The Health Committee joined the BC Rural Health Network in 2018 and recently the Village of New Denver has formed a Valley-wide health select standing committee. This committee is composed mostly of elected officials from the Slocan Valley and a representitive from the Chamber Health Committee.

Wish us luck and good luck to you all as well in our health service related struggles!

Colin Moss
 ccm99@telus.net