03/27/2013 13:42 EDT | Updated 05/27/2013 05:12 EDT

Penticton residents fund $40K fight for new hospital

Penticton, B.C., residents fighting for a new hospital have raised $40,000 to keep up their campaign — despite a promise from the premier that the government is already planning an expansion.

Last week Premier Christy Clark committed $2 million to develop a business case for a new patient care tower at the Penticton Regional Hospital.

But Penticton Coun. Garry Litke says that's not enough.

“We … need to have this hospital built and the campaign is designed to keep government’s feet to the fire, no matter what government it is, and we’ll continue to do that until we actually see some construction beginning.”

Taxpayers and local doctors have each contributed $20,000 to the cause.

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says the government has committed to a hospital expansion and continued pressure won't make a difference.

"I understand that people are concerned that the government is not going to proceed with this project, but we have a history and a track record that when we go to business case, those projects get done."

MacDiarmid said the $40,000 could be better spent elsewhere.

“I’m not going to advise people what to do with their money,” she said.

“If it was me, with the track record of our government and I was a doctor in that hospital and I wanted to make a contribution, I wouldn’t use if for advertising. I would contribute to, probably, the foundation for equipment or some other great need in the area.”

It has yet to be determined how the $40,000 will be used, but Litke says it will likely fund rallies, information sessions and advertising campaigns.

The premier has said construction on the project could start by 2014.