The Town of Osoyoos will kick in up to $3,000 over the next 12 months to help provide a living space for doctors providing medical support in the South Okanagan.

Council Monday agreed to help other municipal government partners lease an Oliver property located near the South Okanagan General Hospital.

“Staff from the Town of Oliver have identified a properly that is available for lease at $900.00/ month, which includes a weekly cleaning,” explained CAO Barry Romanko. “This property is approximately three blocks from the hospital. The Town of Oliver will lease the property for one year and bill the other partners.”

Those partners also include the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s Areas “A” and “C”.

“The community requires doctors to staff the emergency ward at SOGH and the provision of housing will assist in providing locum services,” Mr. Romanko added.

READ MORE: Oliver MD downplays ER changes at South Okanagan hospital

The hospital’s emergency room recently implemented a service structure that has physicians on-call during overnight.

“We could have suggested locum housing in Osoyoos as well, but what we’re hoping for is a locum who comes to town would choose to work in the emergency department,” said Mayor Sue McKortoff. “Not all doctors do.”

Local funding for the housing will come out of the community development portion of the Town’s economic development budget.

Councillors Myers Bennett and Brian Harvey asked about recovery of costs from the doctors staying in the apartment.

“I always understood this to be to make housing available as opposed to free housing,” said Coun. Harvey.

Mr. Romanko replied the current intention was to secure a space for the doctors to stay.

“Should there be a nightly charge or a monthly charge — certainly that would potentially feed back into an ongoing program of some sort to keep this particular opportunity going,” he said.

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