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Plans to move Lakeland Veterinary Clinic runs into delays

Lakeland Veterinary Clinic's plan to relocate to Marmot Ridge has run into a snag.

Lakeland Veterinary Clinic's plan to relocate to Marmot Ridge has run into a snag. 

Since purchasing the former golf course in 2022 Doctor Ross Dickinson, the owner and operator of Lakeland, has been working to move his practice into the old Marmot Ridge Building. However, these plans have run into some complications due to cost. 

"We have spent the last year and a half trying to come up with a design that allows us to use the existing building and turn a restaurant, bar, racquetball club and pro shop into a veterinary hospital," Dickinson said. "It's taken a lot of back and forth and fine tweaking to have a design we could work with. The newest hurdle is the budget to make this vision happen. "

Dickinson's original plan was to simply convert the old golf course building into a veterinary clinic with two levels. While most clinics consist of only one level, due to the design of the building he had planned to turn one level into a space for staff and the other for his patients. 

When he initially secured funding from the bank for the project Dickinson planned to spend about $1 million renovating the building. However, as planning has gone on he's learned the actual cost will now be closer to $1.6 million. That's led him to look at refinancing or potentially abandoning the idea of using the old building altogether and simply building something new. 

"The biggest benefit of going that route is we can avoid any kind of levels and have everything on one level so you can walk in and walk out with no ramps, stairs and nothing to trip on," Dickinson remarked. "We could also go a little smaller as well. We don't necessarily need a 10,000-square-foot facility, we could make do with 7,000 or maybe 8,000." 

Lakeland's current clinic in Uptown Plaza is only 3,600 square feet which is suitable for its current operations but not for expansion. Over the last few years, Dickinson has seen steady growth in the demand for veterinary medicine in 100 Mile House. He attributes this largely to an influx of new residents moving to the Cariboo from the Lower Mainland. 

Those looking to see Dickinson currently for anything other than an emergency can expect a six to eight-week wait. In an average month, Dickinson estimates he conducts around 400 patient visits. 

"Lots of new clients but also a lot of dedicated older clients who have been coming here for over 24 years," Dickinson said.

Dickinson estimates he currently has enough work to employ up to four small animal vets under him. Right now he makes do with a part-time veterinarian and travelling vets, but he believes if he can get the new facility built he'll have the space to employ full-time veterinarians to work under him. This would allow them to work four days on, four days off, as opposed to his current schedule of between five to seven days a week. 

"A big part of this project and the vision is the attractability for recruits. (They will) walk into a brand new facility that's gleaming and done well, so you'll stand a much better chance of young professionals moving up from the Coast," Dickinson explained. "The more vets we have in the area the better it is for 100 Mile House and the surrounding area." 

Right now Dickinson is waiting to hear back from his contractor Medico Construction, which specializes in building medical clinics, about the cost of building a new facility. Rather than create a custom design, he'll likely just end up purchasing a ready-made clinic plan. 

One big advantage to this will be that they'll be able to instal their own fire suppression system. Right now Marmot Ridge's system is just 30 fire extinguishers, so a built-in fire retardant system would be a huge improvement. 

"We can build smart and plan for the future, plan for the growth we're likely going to continue to see in the Cariboo." 

To help finance this project, Dickinson plans to find a developer to turn part of the 33-acre property into residential housing. About 23-acres is currently zoned for parks and recreation and fall within the Agricultural Land Reserve, so would have to be rezoned for any development to take place. If that happens Dickinson said he'd like to use one or two of the resulting homes as staff housing. 

"The vision is there and I believe in the vision. If we build this clinic right there is a chance, given our location and how 'close' we are to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver, we could bring up specialists. Whether that's a cardiologist, dermatologist or a veterinary dentist if we have the facilities for them we can have them come up monthly, if not every other week."

Dickinson said that if he does decide to build a new clinic on the Marmot Ridge property, he plans to have the current building bulldozed by this fall. That way he said they'll be able to begin construction in the spring of 2025 and ideally move into the new clinic by the fall of 2025. He also still plans to build a facility for large animals on the same property, though this will likely be built after the small animal facility. 

"It's been a lot of hard work to get to where we are and I'm happy with that. In the last two years, the cost of everything has been skyrocketing and the hope is that trend doesn't continue for the next two years."

Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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