MIRZA, Raza - October 18, 2018
The future of Georgia Viaduct and traffic management through Strathcona has been a major topic of discussion during this election campaign. Mayoral candidates have touched many aspects; huge cost of removal, reconciliation and its impact on Produce Row. Yet a critical aspect was surprisingly missing in all debate: the impact on future access to the new St. Paul's hospital.
On April 13 2015, Providence Health Care, in partnership with then B.C. Ministry of Health, announced the plan to redevelop a new St. Paul's and integrated health campus at Station Street on an 18.4-acre site in Vancouver's False Creek Flats. The construction for new hospital is estimated to complete in year 2024. The transition plan from the current site on Burrard Street to the new site on Station Street has not be flushed out yet. The current plan is to close the current facility, and sell the land. The land will likely be converted into major luxury condo towers; a shortsighted plan which will put the health and safety of over 100,000 people at risk.
ProVancouver is committed to making sure we will have another hospital downtown, and will immediately start working on securing current St. Paul's Hospital land.
The Westend of downtown is one the most densely populated residential neighbourhoods in North American, and with major redevelopment already underway population in Westend will only grow. 1 in every 6th person in Vancouver already lives on downtown peninsula. There are also almost 40% of Vancouver residents who work in downtown in some form. That is already over 250,000 people and growing. There is also a rapidly aging population in the Westend and just south on Burrard bridge in Kitsilano.
There is also a whole 24 hours economy, especially along Davie street, which exists only because of a 24 hours medical facility in downtown. Without St. Paul's visitors to serve and escalating cost of operating a business many of the long term businesses will close. Their replacements will likely be generic large chain stores and cafes, stripping Vancouver of any sense of uniqueness.
One of many failings of the last decade under the out-going party, is their inability to understand the needs of the people of Vancouver or have a plan for the future beyond a few years. In every aspect of planning current council have ignored the unique opportunities and challenges Vancouver's geography and weather presents. Downtown is only connected to the new hospital site by small strip of reclaimed land, and going over any of the 3 bridges will add even more time to get medical, if land connection is choked off during traffic hours. Vancouver needs a mayor and council who understands Vancouver and needs of its people.
ProVancouver are committed to working with local partners and engage higher levels in government to secur the funds needed to acquire the land at current St. Paul's location for a new future hospital. We will work with Providence Health, Fraser Health Authority and the provincial government to maintain and operate emergency facilities at current site until the funding of a replacement hospital at the existing location is secured. Once the new hospital opens up in 2024, and some facilities, like maternity, are relocated to the new hospital, there is also an opportunity to use some space for staff housing. The space may have been challenging for patients who often have mobility challenges, but using those assumptions about able-bodied staff do not make sense. ProVancouver will do a seismic audit to assess if some or all of the freed up space can be used to house staff.
On Oct 20, 2018, voters have a choice. A ProVancouver Mayor and council who understand the needs of people and will put us back on the right path, or those who want to continue with poor choices.