Community shows enthusiasm for hospital opening

Huge and looming, the mounting structure of the South Health Campus looks ominous in its incomplete state. Construction workers move hastily about the site and pieces of equipment lay strewn about.

Hammers bang and tools clang as crews work tirelessly towards its much-anticipated opening at Deerfoot Trail and 196th Avenue S.E. Some phases of the project are slated to be in full operation later this year, with the rest to follow in 2013.

For most, the constant thuds and crashes accompanying the ongoing construction of this metallic, space-age design would be infuriating, but for the residents of Auburn Bay, the racket is tolerable — it means their new hospital nears completion.

The noise means progress, and progress means added value. Moreover, this headway will lead to completion of a state-of-the-art medical and health facility that many residents says they are keen to utilize.

For Holly Smith, a resident of Auburn Bay for a year and a half, the hospital is a welcome addition to the community. In fact, the hospital was a key motivator for her moving to the area.These houses pictured to the right are selling fast, says Karen MacPhee of Brookfield homes. As the completion of Calgary’s South Health Campus draws near, housing sales continue to increase.
Photo by: Taryn Hajnrych

“I hurt myself so much, it’s a great thing to have,” says Smith, who currently is sporting a few broken ribs courtesy of a squash game.

She says the community was never secretive about plans for the hospital and she expects the facility to increase resale values in the area.

Smith says that she believes families always have, and always will want to live close to hospitals.

Although the growing hospital blocks part of the vista off her back deck, Smith says it isn’t a problem. She says the wide-open cobalt skies leave her lots of room to enjoy the mountain views.

Karen MacPhee, area sales manager for Mosaic Lakeside in Auburn Bay, says the hospital has had an incredibly positive impact on the company’s residential sales.

“It’s been fantastic for sales,” says MacPhee. “People see the value in having the hospital right beside their homes. It’s possibly where they work or just for future resale value.”

MacPhee says that in her opinion, Calgary homes located in areas around hospitals are more valuable than those in areas without.

She pointed out that the two-storey, row-like homes in muted tones of red and yellow — located directly across the road from the emergent facilities — are the ones that are selling most quickly, despite still being under construction.

The South Health Campus will feature:

  • Approximately 2,400 full-time staff positions
  • 180 physicians
  • 298 beds
  • 11 operating rooms
  • Outpatient clinics
  • An emergency department
  • Inpatient services
  • Day surgery and medical facilities
  • Critical care services
  • Labour and delivery, as well as neonatal intensive care
  • A state-of-the-art learning facility for teaching innovative methods to health care professionals

Source: Alberta Health Services

Recent statistics from the Calgary Real Estate Board show that MacPhee’s judgments are correct. In 2010, sales figures for the community remained on par with those from 2009, with 87 homes being sold compared to 90 the year before.

2011, however, was a different story for home sales in Auburn Bay. Figures rose substantially, with yearly sales capping off at 130.

Carla Obuck, secretary of the Auburn Bay Community Association, has resided in the community for six years.

The medical centre has faced a few hiccups along the way — such as construction delays and traffic jams — but Obuck says, “Everyone is looking forward to having it.”

Obuck — who has toured the facility — says she is looking forward to amenities such as the rock-climbing wall and fitness centre that the completed hospital will offer.

Knowing that concerns have already surfaced in the building phase, members of the community association are hard at work to ensure that issues such as parking do not become a problem for residents when the hospital opens it doors.

However, she says that realistically there may be new, unforeseen problems that the community did not see ahead of time, and the organization is doing its best to be prepared so that everyone can enjoy the hospital.

thajnrych@cjournal.ca