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Council hopefuls’ Coast Plaza debate

While social housing, transit, green spaces and taxes were discussed at a city council candidates forum in the West End Nov 2, the issue that came up the most was health care, particularly that of the future of St Paul’s Hospital.

Vision Vancouver and COPE candidates alike told the crowd the issue is not a done deal and the public concern of the planned move of the hospital to the False Creek Flats needs to be better addressed.

Independent candidate Jamie Lee Hamilton was the most strident in her defence of the current site. “We must save St Paul’s Hospital,” she says. “That is a healthy beating heart and you don’t transplant something that is a heartbeat of so many neighbourhoods.”

Vision’s Tim Stevenson says St Paul’s cannot relocate to the False Creek Flats if city council does not rezone the land. “It won’t be rezoned,” he says.

Green Party candidate Ann Livingston says people must keep up the fight to save the hospital. “Keep on it and insist you have a say,” she says. “In the Downtown Eastside, we need a facility of our own,” she adds.

The Non-Partisan Association candidates at the meeting were not asked about the issue and, therefore, did not respond to questions about the hospital.

Several people also raised the issue of funding for Pride, saying the event brings millions of dollars into the city and should get civic event designation. Candidates were divided on the issue.

COPE Councillor Anne Roberts says recognizing the Pride Parade as a civic event would mean the city could incur heavy policing costs. But Stevenson says, “it’s time to become a civic event.”

NPA candidate Kathi Thompson suggested the Pride Society make a business case to council on the issue.