Vancouver–West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert is resigned to the fact that St. Paul’s Hospital is leaving his constituency.
What the New Democrat representative cannot accept is the prospect that the more than one-century-old facility will be torn down for condos.
The two newest buildings in the Burrard Street complex were built in 1979 and 1988, and, according to Chandra Herbert, they can continue to provide health services, with portions repurposed for housing.
“It’s around my age,” Chandra Herbert said about these buildings in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight. “I’m not ready to retire, so I don’t see why the government wants to put this health facility out of work. Clearly, we need housing. That’s one area that we can look at [for] the St. Paul’s site—not just seniors’ housing but housing [in] a variety of forms.”
St. Paul’s Hospital is transferring to a 7.5-hectare site on Station Street in False Creek Flats, a move supported by city hall.
“If the government began construction of a hospital [that] the City of Vancouver [and Mayor] Gregor Robertson have also endorsed, it’s pretty hard to roll that back,” Chandra Herbert said. “But what you can do is make sure that constituents in my neighbourhood continue to get great health-care services. And that means utilizing the [old] St. Paul’s building and facilities and potentially improving health-care experience for folks and housing needs for people as well.”
A city staff report included in the council agenda Wednesday (January 20) noted that development on Station Street may begin in 2018.
The report sought council’s endorsement of a planning program for the massive site south of Chinatown and Strathcona.
The document also requested confirmation by council that neither market nor non market residential uses will be considered in the planned one-million-square-foot development. However, staff asked council to “allow consideration of institutional health-related residential use” for complex care and for elderly patients.
According to staff, Providence Health Care, the Catholic organization operating St. Paul’s Hospital, is “not proceeding with redevelopment of the Burrard Street Site at this time”.
“While the future redevelopment of the Burrard Street Site is necessary to help finance the new St Paul’s, the City shares the concerns of West Enders and all residents of Downtown that accessible health care must continue to be provided,” the report stated.
It is estimated that the new hospital development will cost upwards of $1.2 billion.