Yarmouth housing complex for doctors sees huge success

·3 min read
Credit Union Place, a 5-unit building in Yarmouth, has been occupied by medical students and doctors ever since it opened last November.   (CBC - image credit)
Credit Union Place, a 5-unit building in Yarmouth, has been occupied by medical students and doctors ever since it opened last November. (CBC - image credit)

A new housing complex in southwestern Nova Scotia specifically for doctors temporarily practising in the area is paying off.

Credit Union Place, a five-unit, bungalow-style complex, has been full ever since it opened in Yarmouth last November.

So far, 20 medical students from Dalhousie University and 14 locum doctors from Halifax, New Brunswick, and P.E.I. have stayed in the building, which is the brainchild of Rick Doucette, CEO of the Coastal Financial Credit Union.

For years, said Doucette, he'd drive by an old building on Vancouver Street not far from the Yarmouth Regional Hospital and say to himself, "This should be housing for doctors." And so he worked out a plan with the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce to make it happen.

The credit union first attempted to renovate the old building on the lot, but it quickly abandoned the idea after the project turned into a money pit. The old building was demolished and a new one was built. The credit union owns the building and leases it to the chamber for a dollar per year.

Resident doctors are charged $10 per night and locums are charged $500 per week.


Tracy Auten, an executive assistant at the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce, said doctors usually hear about the building through word of mouth.

"We're very close to the hospital," said Auten. "It's a two-minute walk. They can drive or walk. People have a hard time finding places to stay, and this kind of opened up the door for them to come to Yarmouth."

Dr. Gagan Mahil, a resident from Vancouver, said he wishes the complex had been open when he moved to Nova Scotia last year.

"I didn't have the opportunity to look for an apartment or a place to live, and the rental situation here can be quite dire at times," he said. "So I ended up actually staying in a motel for the first month that I was here."

Mahil said he likes the opportunities afforded him by working in Yarmouth.


"I wanted a rural experience," he said. "And I wanted a place where I could stay in the same community ... So I was able to build a community here, and the community here has been actually really phenomenal in terms of trying to get me connected to the things that I've said I was interested in."

Kerry Muise, who chairs the chamber of commerce's doctor recruitment team in Yarmouth, said the provincial health authority and other hospital towns have been impressed with the singular focus on bringing doctors to southwest Nova Scotia. Groups in Antigonish and Bridgewater have been in touch asking how they can copy the model, she said.

Muise said her team is regularly in contact with the medical school at Dalhousie University and the Yarmouth hospital. Those discussions include how to bring more residents to the community.

"It's a win-win," she said. "Once you have someone moving to this community to learn for a period of time, they get involved in the community and hopefully we can recruit them when they're done their training."


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