A regional coming together to support the Boundary Trails Health Centre (BTHC) expansion project took place Thursday afternoon. RM of Stanley Reeve Ike Friesen, Morden Mayor Brandon Burley, and Winkler Mayor Henry Siemens gathered to announce their community commitments to the BTHC Foundation portion of the $100- million expansion project. The BTHC Foundation has committed to raising $10 million for the project after the Provincial Government committed to funding $64.4 last year.

Winkler Mayor Henry Siemens said the three communities were proud to be at the start of the municipal campaign, committing to $110 per capita, payable over the next 4 years.

"This is a significant contribution in a time and era when our budgets are already stressed. That is the significance we place on this project. The importance we feel this project has for our region's continued viability, for our region's continued growth, and for the desirability of continuing to be here. When Mayor, Reeve, and myself started talking, we quickly arrived at a place this was something we wanted to do together."

RM of Stanley Reeve Ike Friesen agreed with Siemens and added, "RM of Stanley is very pleased to be part of this contribution together with Morden and Winkler. We recognize the need in the area and the special services that are being brought in. It will alleviate a lot of trips to Winnipeg for a lot of people in the region, and we recognize that will be important to people."

Morden Mayor Brandon Burley shared his thoughts on working together with municipal partners.

"From our perspective, this is a generational opportunity to do something good. It's not going to come back to us in the next 30 years to be able to do this over again. For the vision long term for our region, I think is shared with both Reeve Friesen and Mayor Siemens, that vision is for growth and cooperation. This is a project that's going to be a forward-setting project for that ambition. We're going to do it right, and we'll do it right the first time. This ability to partner with Southern Health and the BTHC Foundation and provide enhanced medical amenities is one I don't think anybody in our region is ever going to lament or regret having done."

BTHC Foundation Board Chair Ben Friesen said this put them over the halfway mark at over $6 million towards their $10 million goal. He explained a bit about what services will be increased in the expansion project.

"Well, a huge part of this, the foundation is committed to expanding the Cancer Care. It'll have three times the amount of space that it has upstairs right now. The level 2 Nursery is huge, huge for us. We had a daughter we spent a couple of months driving to the city every day, and it's just huge. It's things like that, you can truly see that are going to be worthwhile.The extra operating room, we've got surgery backlogs, and everybody's always waiting for surgery. So, anything we can do to help speed up the surgery waitlist is going to be great. This $3.6 million will all be part of that."

Friesen went on to say, requests for support from other municipalities around the area has gone out, and he is grateful for this initial show of support from these three. Businesses and the public are also making considerations to support the project, Friesen expects to be making more announcements in the future regarding more support from the area. 

Friesen thanked his committee and volunteers for working on this project and to the communities for the support recognizing the significance of the donation and the efforts to work together.

"This is a regional facility and it's just fantastic to see these three communities to come together on such a huge regional project. We are a very strong region and if we hold hands together on anything we want to do in Southern Manitoba, this region is strong and we can get things done."