“We went before council to get permission to enter into negotiations with Northern Health to swap land with them at the new hospital site for land at the old hospital site,” explains Fort St. John economic development officer Moira Green. “The old hospital site is one of the key downtown sites for the downtown revitalization plan, but the details of the negotiation can’t be discussed.”

That still leaves open the specific fate of the old hospital site as the city enters phase three of the new Downtown Revitalization Plan.

That’s the phase which involves building the capital plan and putting in the budget numbers to cover a new 20 year period.

There are still several schools of thought in the city regarding downtown development, and in particular, the vacant properties which are part of it.

“If the development community sees a need for it, they’re going to develop it,” says Century 21 realtor Kevin Pearson. “The city, they can have their dreams and wishes and everything, how they would like to see it done but really even the properties they have, they should probably just let the free enterprise do their thing.”

Pearson adds, “Since they own them, they can have some restrictions on it as to what they’d like.”

Pearson give the example of the old Fort Hotel property, explaining while there’s the process of the developer showing council some plans for the vacant property, and while these plans could ultimately be turned down, taxpayers shouldn’t carry the city’s financial burden while an independent has the money to backup construction.