2 min

Save St Paul’s

Stevenson concerned about 'secret talks' to move West End hospital

Credit: Xtra West files

Councillor Tim Stevenson is calling on the BC Liberals to keep St Paul’s Hospital in the West End.

The government is quietly holding talks to move the hospital to the False Creek Flats, Stevenson alleged after announcing his intention to seek the NDP’s nomination for next year’s provincial election.

A few months ago, Providence Health Care, which owns and runs St Paul’s, bought land on the False Creek Flats with the stated intention of pitching a possible move there to the provincial government. But as of May, nothing had been finalized, hospital spokesperson Shaf Hussain told Xtra West.

And that’s still true, he insists now. Providence is still working on two alternative business cases-one to redevelop the hospital’s current West End site and another to move St Paul’s to its new False Creek land. But it’s up to the government, Hussain emphasizes; Victoria will have the “final say” on whether St Paul’s moves or not.

According to Hussain, the government will only begin considering its options this fall, after Providence presents its proposals. But Stevenson says talks have already begun-and he’s concerned.

“I won’t permit secret deals to move St Paul’s out of the community,” Stevenson says. This community needs health care services specifically geared to its needs, and particularly the needs of its queer residents, seniors and people living with AIDS.

The community must be consulted before any move takes place, he adds.

Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt agrees. He, too, is concerned about the possibility of St Paul’s leaving the West End. “I think it’s a misguided and inappropriate move,” he says, adding that he has already met with his caucus and with Providence to share his concerns. “What I said to them is they might own the hospital but the community built it.”

St Paul’s is a neighbourhood hospital, Mayencourt explains. It not only serves the 80,000 residents living within a 10-block radius of its current Burrard St location, it also serves specific subsets of that community (such as HIV-positive people) and helps support the 50,000 people employed by the area’s small businesses.

The government is not trying to move St Paul’s out of the West End, Mayencourt maintains; Providence is the one pushing for this move.

It’s Providence’s “pipe dream” to relocate to the False Creek Flats, he continues. “I have no compelling reason to support their move.”

Mayencourt says he plans to hold a community consultation on St Paul’s in September.