Reporters at The Daily News were asked to choose what they think qualifies as the Kamloops 2012 Story of the Year. We'd like to hear from readers which story they think deserves the honour by voting online starting Thursday in the sidebar to the left.
The stories under consideration are:
* Missing or murdered women
* Use of Twitter in reporting
* Royal Inland Hospital expansion
* Kamloops bicentennial
This is a story of life and death, of politics and economics, of community.
My choice for story of the year is the announcement of the expansion of Royal Inland Hospital.
You think my introduction was overblown?
Hospitals deal with life and death every day. Adding more space should mean more beds. And that means better service and possibly more lives saved.
At the least, the number of people experiencing high blood pressure from trying to find a parking spot should be reduced as more stalls are created in a new parkade.
Lives are being saved right there, although they'll be hard to quantify.
Premier Christy Clark told us in July she was committing to Phase 1 of the project, an $80-million expenditure. It was somewhat unexpected, as Interior Health had overhauled hospitals in Kelowna and Vernon already and Penticton was next on its priority list.
By September, when Clark was at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, she upped the ante to saying she would back the entire $400-million project. Although she neglected to give any timelines.
Is it coincidence the announcement came so that there could be a ground-breaking photo-op for the construction by April — weeks before a provincial election? The cynic in me says no.
Will it affect how people in Kamloops or the region vote? Will they lean Liberal because of this investment in a facility that's a focal point for the community?
If so, that's another impact that can be attributed to the expansion. Although I doubt voters are that easily led.
The expansion will have other effects on Kamloops as well.
There's the economic spinoff that comes with construction jobs at the beginning and ends with health-care professionals being hired on.
It will help attract specialists to Kamloops who are desperately needed. The bigger and more up to date the hospital is, the better the chances of bringing in more professionals to work there.
Another offshoot is the delayed Columbia Street widening will kick into effect to coincide with the works being done in front of RIH. Drivers get another benefit from this project, with more centre turn lanes being made and perhaps, less road rage.
The steep walk up to the hospital, which can only be made on foot by the healthy, will be transformed into an indoor elevator service that will get everyone into the building.
Better community health and possibly more lives saved, less traffic congestion downtown, new professionals attracted to Kamloops, potential political payoffs — are all reasons why Royal Inland Hospital's expansion should be voted story of the year.