Secret talks underway to tear down St. Paul’s Hospital and build condos? Many issues at current, future sites: Time for spotlights.

"Transformers": Photo from 8F, Burrard Bldg, St Pauls Hospital, Nov. 2013. Photo credit: Jak King

“Transformers”: Photo from 8F, Burrard Bldg, St Pauls Hospital, Nov. 2013. Photo credit: Jak King

Since a few days ago, media have reported rumours that B.C.’s Provincial Government may be planning to demolish St. Paul’s Hospital on Burrard Street in Vancouver’s West End and rebuild it on the False Creek Flats. Condos might be built on the current site, according to rumours.

“I’m getting it from business people, from real-estate people, from health-care people, from enough sources within and outside of government that I’m taking it seriously,” B.C. NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert (Vancouver – West End) told the Straight on April 2, 2015.

In June 2010, Jeremy Hainsworth, writing for Xtra magazine, broke the story (“BC Liberals spending millions on empty land“) that BC’s Liberal government had “spent $4.8 million since 2004 paying Vancouver property taxes on land owned by a society fronted by party contributors.” The land in question was on False Creek Flats, now again apparently being eyed as the future home of the hospital.Chandra Herbert was quoted at the time saying, “It’s very insider kind of politics going on here.” Hainsworth’s article goes into some detail regarding close connections between directors of the Ezperanza Society, which owned the land, and donations to the B.C Liberals, suggesting conflict of interest. The story promptly led to cancellation of plans to move the hospital, and on June 13, 2012, Premier Christy Clark announced a $500-million redevelopment plan at the current site on Burrard Street. But since then, things have been rather silent.

Below is a short, selected list of related media coverage.

CityHallWatch also raises some of these crucial points.

  • Perhaps 110,000 people live on the downtown peninsula, and the city is rapidly adding more population density here — potentially 145,000 or more. Medical and emergency services are important for current and future residents. And during major events, we estimate the peninsula could hold over a quarter million people.
  • In the event of an earthquake, bridges serving downtown (Lions Gate, Burrard, Granville, Cambie, and the Viaducts) could be rendered unusable, possible for months or years. This would leave a relatively narrow corridor as the only land access to the peninsula. [NEW:] Also, a senior city official recently revealed that staff are developing plans to evacuate the downtown peninsula in the case of a major earthquake. This entire topic requires more public discussion — it is a matter of public safety, requiring full public involvement.
  • The False Creek Flats are in a flood hazard area identified in a July 2014 City Council report on Flood Construction Levels in future scenarios of sea-level rise and climate change. Is it wise to build a hospital here?
  • The current Burrard Street site is subject to height control restrictions from six protected “viewcones.” If there are any serious plans to build condos here, a high level of public scrutiny is needed regarding permitted building heights. We have observed irregularities and what appears to be unexplained manipulation of these viewcones, making possible billions of dollars of potential new construction in the West End and Coal Harbour. (See “Manipulation of protected view cones” in our list of lawsuits against the City— this one is currently in limbo.)

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St. Paul’s Hospital & Height Control restrictions from six viewcones (CityHallWatch, October 5, 2011) https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/st-pauls-hospital-height-control-restrictions-from-six-viewcones/

Proposed changes to bylaws on flood construction levels (for sea-level rise) have huge implications on existing communities, development, (CityHallWatch, 7-July-2014) https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/flood-construction-levels-impacts-communities/

SELECTED MEDIA LIST

“NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert hearing St. Paul’s Hospital will be torn down for condos” (Carlito Pablo) Straight.com – ‎Apr 2, 2015‎
According to the B.C. NDP MLA who represents Vancouver-West End, where the acute care, teaching, and research hospital is located, it’s looking like St. Paul’s will be torn down and moved to False Creek, with condos to be built at its prime downtown
http://www.straight.com/news/424296/ndp-mla-spencer-chandra-herbert-hearing-st-pauls-hospital-will-be-torn-down-condos

NDP raises fear of St. Paul’s Hospital being closed (Globalnews.ca – ‎Apr 2, 2015‎)
WATCH: What’s going to be done with Vancouver’s aging St. Paul’s Hospital? Keith Baldrey reports. Could downtown Vancouver’s only hospital be changing locations? NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Hebert says he’s heard the aging hospital, which Christy
http://globalnews.ca/news/1919828/ndp-races-fear-of-st-pauls-hospital-being-closed/

St. Paul’s Hospital to be demolished for condos: NDP MLA (Vancity Buzz – ‎Apr 3, 2015‎)
Downtown Vancouver’s hospital and emergency room could close its doors in the coming years if rumours prove to be true. According to Spencer Chandra-Herbert, the B.C. NDP MLA for the West End riding, he has reason to believe the provincial government
http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2015/04/st-pauls-hospital-demolished-condos-ndp-mla/

NDP hearing rumours St. Paul’s Hospital won’t be rebuilt at its current location (News1130 – ‎Apr 2, 2015‎) Downtown Vancouver will soon be losing its only emergency room if recent rumors are to be believed. The MLA for the area says he’s heard the BC government will announce St. Paul’s Hospital will be closing. The Liberals have ...
http://www.news1130.com/2015/04/02/ndp-hearing-rumours-st-pauls-hospital-wont-be-rebuilt-at-its-current-location/

Vancouver hospital to be torn down? (Shane Woodford) Am730 Vancouver Traffic News – ‎Apr 3, 2015‎: The NDP MLA for the West End says the word is, again, St. Pauls hospital will be torn down and moved. “We do not need to see the Liberals closing St. Pauls hospital in downtown Vancouver.” Spencer Chandra-Herbert “Through sources within the ministry, …
http://www.am730.ca/syn/112/70512/70512 (with audio)

Would moving St. Paul’s Hospital hurt access to service? (News1130 – ‎Apr 3, 2015‎):  With the BC NDP warning St. Paul’s Hospital may be moved to False Creek, questions are being raised about how that would hurt access to service. Former Vancouver city planner Brent Toderian says there are big advantages …“Unlike many downtowns across North America, our downtown has a lot of people living in it. We have probably about 110,000 people living in the downtown peninsula and that’s slated to go up in the next few decades to about 140, 145 [thousand],” he explains. “Having a hospital in the middle of all that population and those people working is an asset. It’s a real asset for access to service, access to public health.”
http://www.news1130.com/2015/04/03/would-moving-st-pauls-hospital-hurt-access-to-service/

Downtown residents will fight to save St. Paul’s Hospital: Vancouver MLA (by Emily Jackson, Metro News Vancouver, 5-Apr-2015)
http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/1331540/downtown-residents-will-fight-to-save-st-pauls-hospital-vancouver-mla/

SELECTED STORIES FROM 2010

Plans announced for reconstruction of St Paul’s Hospital, by Jeremy Hainsworth, 22-Oct-2010
http://dailyxtra.com/vancouver/news/plans-announced-reconstruction-st-pauls-hospital-5858

BC Liberals spending millions on empty land, by Jeremy Hainsworth, 1-Jun-2010. http://dailyxtra.com/vancouver/news/bc-liberals-spending-millions-empty-land-6323

NOTE: Daily Xtra deserves credit and praise for breaking this story in June 2010. This article reveals the results of the reporter’s independent investigation into directorships, land ownership, and political donations being the scenes. Definitely worth reading.

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