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Housing addresses North Okanagan doctor shortage

Homes for 4 new family medicine residents being built for 2024
A rendering of one of the proposed homes, which will house up to six residents. (Contributed)

The North Okanagan will be receiving a much needed jolt in regards to family doctors.

A workforce housing project, put forward by Community Futures North Okanagan and local home developer AIM Development, will provide housing for four family medicine residents in 2024, with plans to welcome four more in the following year.

Currently, more than 20,000 residents in the North Okanagan do not have a family doctor. This new project will look to slice into that demand.

“This new economic development project will support a critically challenged sector of our economy that affects thousands of residents,” said Leigha Horsfield, Community Futures executive director. “Access to medical care and childcare are significant factors skilled workers take into account when deciding to reside in a community.”

Horsfield explained that the project hopes to retain at least six family doctors through outreach and incentives, to improve access to health care for thousands of North Okanagan residents.

The new home to house the family medicine residents is on 25th Street. AIM Development purchased the home and subdivided the property into three lots.

The current home will remain on the property and the development will see two new homes each with a suite to provide housing for six residents.

Connected through the City of Vernon’s economic development office, AIM Development owner Ian Murphy agreed to sell the already subdivided lots to Community Futures at a discounted price and manage the construction of the new workforce housing development.

“This project aligns with our goal of creating attainable housing for our community,” said Murphy, whose company has successfully created housing for 32 families from five single-family properties in the past eight years. “It’s great to have Community Futures pushing this development forward.”

Construction is expected to be completed by May 2024.

“The residency program is a great thing for our community,” said Travis Allen, site director of the family residency program. “Other sites across the province continue to see residency programs as one of the strongest recruitment tools to get family doctors trained and practicing in their region. Creating this pool of resources makes family medicine more sustainable for our community and directly benefits the patients.

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Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
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