PETER CONRADI/Bullet News
What’s in a name? About $15 million, if the Niagara Health System has its way.
The new hospital opening in St. Catharines, some 10 years in the planning and making, opens its doors March 24. And it still has no name. Officially it is known as the St. Catharines Site of the Niagara Health System. But is that any kind of handle befitting a billion-dollar structure?
Until someone writes a big cheque, it’s going to have to do.
“There has been some internal discussion about a naming opportunity,” said NHS provincial supervisor Kevin Smith. “I know in Toronto some of these go for around $25 million. In this area I would guess $10 million at a minimum; it’s a lot of money to give away.
“So we’re going with the working name for now. I wasn’t here for all of the (fundraising) campaign, so I don’t know precisely what was done about the name. But I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t part of the presentations to potential donors.”
Indeed it was. And is.
Mike Farrell, president and CEO of the NHS Foundation, said the $15 million is the general target, but it is not a hard-and-fast number. Nor is it necessarily a commodity for sale.
“The dollar-amount is negotiable,” Farrell said. “You have to remember that something like the name of a hospital has no commercial value. It’s not like naming the Rogers Centre.
“We might have an idea of what size gift we would require to name a building, but if no one makes a gift at that level then the community has spoken. It is complex because the monetary value in naming a hospital is subjective. A gift level is proposed and the hospital celebrates that gift as is appropriate.”
In Hamilton, for example, Charles and Margaret Juravinski did not purchase the name of the newest hospital. They were recognized in the end by the hospital board for their ongoing support and sizeable donations. The same could happen in St. Catharines. On the other hand, no one is going to turn down a sizeable cheque for naming rights.
“There is no person or entity waiting in the wings to name the building that I am aware,” Farrell said. “But the NHS Foundation and NHS would always welcome a proposal.”
Any such offer would have to go through the NHS board – which for the time being is essentially Smith. He plans to name a new local board in about two weeks.
The It’s Our Time Campaign raised more than $41 million locally to help pay for health services in Niagara. Of that, $25 million will go to the new hospital, regional cancer centre and cardiac catheterization lab. The rest will go to improvements at other NHS hospitals.