The provincial government and Providence Health Care announced on April 13 that St. Paul’s Hospital will move from Burrard Street downtown to a new building at 1002 Station Street, near Main and Terminal on the False Creek Flats. The project is expected to cost about $1.2 billion.
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The proponents said the new 700-bed facility will provide round-the-clock integrated services, including an emergency ward, a 24-hour primary-care clinic, surgery, mental health and addiction services, seniors’ care, community care and outreach, a birthing centre, residential care for the frail and elderly, palliative care and more. It is expected to open in 2021-22.
Residents of the West End expressed concern that the move will mean they will be left without health-care services and that the hospital is central to the neighbourhood. While the City’s West End Community plan, adopted in 2013, speaks to “ensuring that community facilities can support residents of all ages, particularly for seniors,” it mentions St. Paul’s hospital only in passing — not as a community facility but as a site for new jobs (p. 114). The hospital is located in the area identified in the plan as the Burrard Corridor, one of four areas allowing for new growth and higher densities. The Burrard Corridor would allow for buildings of up to 300 to 550 feet where not restricted by view corridors. St. Paul’s is located in Corridor area E, where the tallest buildings would be permitted.
While council in April 2015 adopted a resolution to support the new hospital, it agreed that health services must remain available to the West End. Providence and Vancouver Coastal Health agreed to create a plan to address health-care needs of the West End and downtown.
The announcement of the new facility also raised concerns that the hospital will be built on filled soil and therefore subject to liquefaction in the event of a major earthquake and subject to sea-level rise. A report to Council from the City’s planning department, dated Jan. 7, 2016, stated:
“Located on the fringe of the back-filled area of False Creek Flats, design and construction will have to take into account the Flood Control Level of 4.6 metres and complex characteristics of the sub-soil conditions which prevail in this area of the city. In addition, the planning considerations associated with resilient infrastructure against seismic events, liquefaction of soils, increased storm events and flooding, and post disaster mitigation will need to be included. Providence will need to retain consultants with expertise in ensuring that the new hospital and health care campus is built to post-disaster standards to mitigate against seismic and flood risks.”
City Council subsequently approved preparation of a policy statement to guide redevelopment of the site, including land use, sustainability, transportation, density, building types and heights, public benefits and phases of development, and scheduled a series of open houses on the plan.
The new hospital is also included in the city’s planning program for the 450-acre False Creek Flats, approved in 2015, and its planning is also coordinated with work related to demolition of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.
The hospital predates Vancouver’s incorporation in 1896. The Sisters of Providence opened the first, wood-frame 25-bed St. Paul’s Hospital during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1894. It expanded by 50 more beds in 1904. The red brick St. Paul’s building on the Burrard and Comox site opened in 1914, with north and south wings added in 1931 and 1945, respectively. Two 10-storey additions were completed in 1983 and 1991.
St. Paul’s has faced challenges because of its age, condition, layout of facilities and ability to withstand earthquakes.
The provincial government and Providence Health Care purchased the site of the new hospital in 2004 but sat on it pending a decision on whether to expand at the downtown site or move. In 2006, Providence considered a plan to upgrade the Burrard hospital site, with about $500 million in renovations including a new 10-storey building and a second building on an adjacent site, but estimated it would take 15 years to complete the work.
Providence, with support from the provincial government, later opted to build on the False Creek Flats site, and during the announcement of a new facility, the parties said that building a new hospital on the Station Street site will allow construction to take place at one time.
City of Vancouver. (2015) The new St. Paul’s Hospital and Health Campus policy planning program. Retrieved from: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/new-st-pauls.aspx
City of Vancouver. (2016) Providence Lands (St. Paul’s Hospital) Policy Planning Program. Staff Report to Council Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities. Retrieved from: http://council.vancouver.ca/20160120/documents/pspc4.pdf
Providence Health Care. St. Paul’s Hospital. (Undated). Retrieved from: http://www.providencehealthcare.org/hospitals-residences/st-pauls-hospital/overview/history
Chan, Kenneth (2015, April 13). St. Paul’s Hospital closure confirmed, new $1.2 billion False Creek Flats hospital to be built. Vancity Buzz. http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2015/04/st-pauls-hospital-closure-confirmed-new-1-2-billion-false-creek-flats-hospital-built/
Fayerman, Pamela (2015, April 12). St.Paul’s Hospital on the move to False Creek Flats. Vancouver Sun. http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Paul+Hospital+move+False+Creek+flats+with+video/10967245/story.html
City of Vancouver. (2013). West End Community Plan. Retrieved from: http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/west-end-community-plan.pdf
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