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Shuswap Healing Centre redesign reflects flowing water and natural beauty

Architect Douglas Cardinal donating time to the project, only charging staff expenses
A new design plan for the Shuswap Healing Centre in Sicamous, presented at the May 10, 2023 committee of the whole meeting. (District of Sicamous image)

The Shuswap Healing Centre has been redesigned to better reflect the natural beauty of Sicamous and its surrounding area.

Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal has been facilitating the project. The building redesign comes at the same time as a shift of the location on the site due to archaeological assessments that have modified the plans. The 15,000 square-foot building now encompasses more of the natural environment in Sicamous, which was an important aspect in the design to Cardinal.

At the May 10 committee of the whole meeting, Bryan Mar, Axis Projects manager, shared Cardinal’s vision for the healing centre.

“All my buildings have a relationship between the forms that created the people. Everything in nature is geometrical and based on the intricate patterns of circles and curves. The form of the circle is very present in the building and is used at the entrance and expressed in the gentle curves of the walls evoking the hills of the Shuswap Valley…” Cardinal said in conversation with district chief administrative officer Kelly Bennett on May 1.

The adapted conversation was quoted again, emphasizing the significance of flowing water in his design.

“The relationship with water is present as the organic influence in my vision of your Healing Centre. Water is the defining feature of Sicamous, the land was shaped and formed by the rivers and the lake. Water flows into the lake and the wind blows across the top of the water. Water was the highway of the First People and we continue to remain connected with water in many ways. I wanted to have this element expressed in the building form. You can feel the expression of water flowing and waves forming and cresting across and along the walls and roof of the building. The blue glass reflects the water in the lakes and rivers.”

A four-season material that resembles wood will make up the exterior of the centre, which is now more rounded in design.

Mar said Cardinal understands the nature of the healing centre and respects the redesign which prioritizes the Indigenous presence at the site, and because of that he is donating most of his time to the project and only charging a small portion of the budgeted cost to cover staff expenses.

Consultation is ongoing as to what will be offered in the building for interior design and whether Interior Health will provide services. The redesign will still have to go in front of council on May 24 to get a development permit, at which time construction drawings and plans can be started. Only about $400,000 of the over $8 million budget has been spent so far, confirmed Bennett, but more money will start to be spent preparing for the expected construction in the fall.

More information can be found on the district website.

READ MORE: Sicamous looks to break ground on Shuswap Healing Centre this fall

READ MORE: District of Sicamous investigated by Ombudsperson regarding Shuswap Healing Centre


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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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