Save St. Paul’s Hospital Coalition: Flashback to 2006 – Documents and issues of the time still valid

Just for the record, below we provide some useful documents from 2006 and 2007: (1) a public information sheet from the Save St. Paul’s Coalition regarding key community concerns, and (2) letter from West End Residents’ Association to senior  Provincial officials regarding a “request to study disaster-response implications of St. Paul’s Hospital possible relocation.”

Though both groups are now dormant, at the time they raised some important points that have not really changed today in 2015, and the points merit good consideration in discussions of the proposed move to False Creek Flats.

On April 13, 2015, the Provincial government and Providence Healthcare suddenly announced plans (press release PDF) to move St. Paul’s Hospital to a new location on False Creek Flats, and they are now engaged in a consultation process. A large number of factors iSt Paul's Town Hall, 26-May-2015 posters involved, but certainly one of them is the opportunity to cash in on the enormous escalation in land values in the past ten years, and use that to fund the development. The plan to move was previously dropped abruptly in connection a scandal in 2010 when it was discovered that insiders were involved in land acquisition at the target site. But the plan is back.

Meanwhile, tonight (Tuesday, May 26) at 7 pm, West End BC MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert and community partners host a Town Hall at the West End Community Centre to hear from the public (poster on right).

While there are merits to moving, and merits to rebuilding at the current location, many of the crucial questions and issues remain just as they were in 2006 and 2007. So here we go, for the record.

(1) Save St. Paul’s Coalition – Issue Sheet, circa 2006

Save St. Paul’s Hospital Coalition (Note: Website no longer active as of May 2015)

Community Issue:  Proposed relocation of St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH) from Burrard Street to False Creek Flats North 

Who is the Save St. Paul’s Hospital Coalition?

  • Concerned citizens
  • Yaletown Business Improvement Association
  • West coast Gay Men’s Health Project
  • West End Residents’ Association
  • Mole Hill Housing Society
  • Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association
  • Hospital Employees Union – St. Paul’s Local
  • Ambulance Paramedics of BC – CUPE Local #873
  • BC Nurses Union, Vancouver Metro Region
  • Vancouver & District Labour Council
  • Paul’s Anglican Church
  • John’s United Church
  • Lord Roberts Elementary School PAC
  • Lord Roberts Annex Elementary School PAC

What is the issue?

  • Providence Health Care (PHC) owns and operates St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH)
  • PHC is proposing an updating of hospital services, referred to as the “Legacy Project”
  • Legacy Project includes 2 options re: SPH:
    • Option 1: Construction and redevelopment of the current site (15 years – PHC estimate)
    • Option 2: Build new facility on 18.5 acres purchased in north False Creek flats north area (5-7 years – PHC estimate)

What are the Coalition’s objectives?

  • To have open public consultation on the PHC business case before it is approved by the provincial government
  • To maintain a major not-for-profit health care facility on the current Burrard site

What are the concerns around moving SPH out of the downtown core?

The Coalition feels that removal of SPH will detrimentally affect access to hospital services by residents, workers and visitors of the downtown peninsula.

  • SPH is currently centrally located in most densely populated region in BC and provides emergency, acute and out-patient care to individuals from around the province
  • A substantial portion of the patients accessing SPH and neighbouring medical offices live in the West End and Downtown centre.
  • Residents of downtown peninsula will incur increased travel time and costs to access hospital services
  • The removal of SPH from downtown could have a negative impact on morbidity rates of emergency patients due to increased travel time.
  • In the event of a major earthquake/flood in the region, access to hospital services located in False Creek flats from downtown could be very difficult. A significant amount of land in the False Creek flats is landfill which would become unstable during a seismic event. The land is also low-lying and at risk of flooding in the event of a tsunami.

Additionally, SPH is a major economic generator for the businesses in surrounding neighbourhoods.

  • Physicians and other medical service providers have offices located within close proximity to SPH
  • SPH is a critical economic generator for businesses in the area, particularly along Davie and Burrard Streets.
  • Many SPH employees reside in the downtown area.

The Coalition is concerned about the soft costs of moving SPH, including social costing and costs to replicate transportation infrastructure already in place at the current Burrard Street site.

What are the Coalition’s next steps?

  • Investigate and represent concerns of business and residents from areas surrounding SPH
  • Continue outreach/public awareness campaign

Proposed location of SPH in False Creek flats north

Save St Pauls Coalition map in 2007 of proposed new location

Save St Pauls Coalition map in 2007 of proposed new location


(2) West End Residents’ Association to senior Provincial officials regarding a “request to study disaster-response implications of St. Paul’s Hospital possible relocation.”

Letter from West End Residents’ Association,

January 17, 2007

Hon. John Les, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Room 236, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4
Hon. George Abbott, Minister of Health, Room 337, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4

Re: Request to study disaster-response implications of St. Paul’s Hospital possible relocation

Dear Honourable Ministers:

On this, the anniversary of devastating earthquakes in Kobe and San Francisco,[1] we are writing to ask for your attention to the implications of the possible relocation of St. Paul’s Hospital that is now being considered. We request that the Province of British Columbia and relevant authorities conduct a full and proper study of the impacts of such a move on the safety of residents, workers and visitors on Vancouver’s Downtown Peninsula and surrounding area in the event of an earthquake or other large-scale emergency. We also request that the core findings of this study be made public.

[1] The Northridge earthquake occurred on January 17, 1994, in Los Angeles, California (magnitude 6.7, killing 72, injuring 11,000 persons, costing $12.5 billion. The Great Hanshin earthquake hit Kobe on 17 January 1995, killing about 6,400 persons, costing $200 billion.

As part of a renewal planning process for St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Healthcare is currently considering a possible relocation of all or most hospital functions from the current location on Burrard Street to the False Creek Flats. This hospital and its transportation access are part of the critical infrastructure of our province and our city.

A megathrust quake occurs on the West Coast of B.C. every 300 to 500 years, with the last one occurring 308 years ago, in January 1700. The downtown peninsula is a densely populated area; at busy times, its population can swell to 250,000 people (including residents, workers and tourists), and may approach half a million during special events like parades and fireworks. Five bridge structures serve the peninsula: Lions Gate, Burrard, Granville, and Cambie Bridges, and the Georgia Viaduct. The only land access is in the eastern portion of the peninsula in the downtown eastside. In event of a minor earthquake, all bridges will be closed for at least several hours until engineers inspect and assess structural damage. In a major earthquake, they could be impassable for weeks or even months. In addition, the eastern portion of the peninsula has many buildings over 80 years old. Debris from them in a major earthquake is likely to block road access to and from the downtown peninsula.

St Paul's Hospital current and proposed locations, and disaster bottlenecks

When the megathrust quake occurs, how will residents, workers, and visitors on the downtown peninsula access emergency and medical care? To the best of our knowledge, no such study has been conducted yet by Providence Health Care or any other entity, so we believe that no one can answer this question yet.

For these reasons, we request that before a decision is made on whether to move St. Paul’s or renew it at the current downtown location, the provincial government and proponents provide the public with a third-party analysis of the risks and options (including the option of seismic upgrades at the current location).


Brent Granby, President, West End Residents Association (WERA)
Randal Helten, Coordinator, WERA Emergency Prep Program
Aaron Jasper, Chair, Save St. Paul’s Coalition


  • Ida Goodreau, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
  • Dianne Doyle, President and Chief Executive Officer, Providence Health Care
  • Mayor Sam Sullivan, Vancouver
  • Mr. Adrian Dix, MLA, Province of British Columbia
  • Lorne Mayencourt, MLA, Province of British Columbia


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