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St Paul’s Hospital calls for architect proposals

But BC budget cites no dollar figure for redevelopment

Redevelopment plans for St Paul's Hospital may be inching forward now that the government has put out a call for architects to work on the project.

While the government continues to promise the redevelopment of St Paul’s Hospital, an Oct 2 hospital memo obtained by Xtra shows it took four months for the project board to meet after Premier Christy Clark promised last June that the concept plan and business case were being finalized.

If budget documents released Feb 19 are any indication, those plans are far from finalized eight months later.

However, things may be moving forward now as the government issued a call Feb 20 for architects to work on the project.

According to Ministry of Health service plans for 2013-16, released by BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong, a final concept plan and detailed business plan for the hospital’s redevelopment are expected to be completed by 2014.

“Exact timeframes of the project will be determined during the business plan process,” the service plan says.

Asked whether Vancouverites should believe the service plan’s 2014 deadline, Clark said Feb 20 she would have to get back to Xtra. She hasn’t yet.

Clark told the Vancouver Board of Trade Feb 20 that land that had been earmarked for a hospital in Surrey was being sold as it was not producing any economic activity. “We’re going to put that money to our bottom line,” she said.

Asked if unused land on False Creek Flats, which had also been earmarked for a new hospital, could be similarly sold to help pay for the West End hospital’s redevelopment, Clark did not have an answer.

The province had at one point been paying $800,000 a year in Vancouver municipal taxes on the False Creek land, which had been touted as a site for a new billion-dollar hospital. That plan was eventually abandoned, and, in June 2012, Clark committed half a billion dollars to redevelop St Paul’s at its current site.

The request for architectural proposals for St Paul’s envisions a state-of-the-art centre of health innovation, care and research, with numerous hospital outpatient clinics, diagnostic care and same-day surgical services, as well as important upgrades to existing buildings, a news release states.

The request invites architects to submit proposals on the conceptual design of an ambulatory care building.

“Over the past several months, Providence has been working closely with Vancouver Coastal Health and the Ministry of Health to finalize the current redevelopment concept plan,” says Dianne Doyle, president of Providence Health Care, which runs St Paul’s. “Advancing a feasibility study to confirm constructability of the new ambulatory centre on the hospital site will further inform the planning for this project.”

As the hospital’s redevelopment has been promised for the better part of a decade, Brent Granby, of the Renew St Paul’s committee of the West End Residents Association, says he’s resigned to continued delays.

Granby says the premier’s announcement last June of half a billion dollars to redevelop the West End site suggested the project was moving forward.

However, he says his attempts to get progress reports since then have gone nowhere. “We want transparency and accountability,” he says. “There’s no process for the community to be involved.”

Granby would like all politicians to commit to the hospital’s redevelopment in time for the provincial election scheduled for May 14. He says he would particularly like to see something on the subject in the NDP’s election platform.

Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert can’t say conclusively what would happen if the NDP were to take power.

“We know it needs infrastructure; we know it needs redevelopment. I’m not going to claim it would be done tomorrow. It will take some time,” he says.

For his part, Chandra Herbert would like to know why the recent BC budget lacked a line item for the redevelopment of St Paul’s.

Budget documents show a projected $1.48 billion to be spent on hospital projects in Kelowna, at the Children’s and Women’s Hospital and on north Vancouver Island hospital projects. St Paul’s is listed as slated for a major project, but no dollar figure is mentioned.

“Christy Clark says one thing and does another,” Chandra Herbert says. “We’ve got signs up outside St Paul’s saying redevelopment is coming. I don’t know how many times we’re going to have to redo them.”