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St. Paul’s hospital rezoning approved, but Vancouver councillor still has concerns

Vancouver council has rezoned land for the new St. Paul's Hospital, but one councillor feels some issues have yet to be addressed. Nadia Stewart reports.

Vancouver city councillors have given the green light to major project which will transform the city’s east side: the redevelopment of St. Paul’s Hospital

“The community is really excited about seeing the new St. Paul’s,” said Miriam Stewart, the project’s chief clinical planning office.

Councillors approved the rezoning application Tuesday, paving the way for the project to move to the next step.

READ MORE: It’s official — St. Paul’s is on the move in Vancouver

The massive relocation will significantly alter two Vancouver neighbourhoods: the West End and the False Creek Flats.

But Green Party Coun. Pete Fry is questioning whether St. Paul’s new neighbourhood can handle the added pressure.

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Province gives update on new St. Paul’s Hospital plans
Province gives update on new St. Paul’s Hospital plans
“Currently, St. Paul’s has a lot of hotel properties in the immediate vicinity at Burrard and Comox [streets], but this new hotel doesn’t have any hotel properties [nearby],” he said.

Fry said that he supports the project, but voted against it nonetheless.

READ MORE: Vancouver’s iconic St. Paul’s hospital hits the real estate market

He said the absence of hotels convenient for patients and families is just one of the gaps in the plan.

He said there are also questions about capacity.

“I need a little bit more clarity before we can be sure the impacts of this project aren’t going to negatively impact the most vulnerable in the city of Vancouver,” he said.

St. Paul’s hospital site for sale
St. Paul’s hospital site for sale

Stewart said part of the hospital’s new paradigm includes using technology and virtual care so patients don’t have to commute to the site as often.

In addition, a hotel is included in the project, as are private rooms to accommodate families who need to stay overnight,” she said.

Rental housing is also planned for the site.

READ MORE: Why do we need a new St. Paul’s Hospital?

“That whole area surrounding the new St. Paul’s hospital is open for development, and I think once the hospital and the facility is up, there’ll be other development as well,” she said.

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But SFU City Program Director Andy Yan said Fry raises a good point about just how much it could take to make the new site work.

“There’s an entire hospital ecosystem that’s currently built around the current St. Paul’s that will somehow have to be transplanted in towards the False Creek site,” he said.

“A lot of this is put forth as a challenge to the city to negotiate with [hospital owner Providence Healthcare] … ensuring that the city is made whole in terms of the overall development.”

Construction could begin by next fall. The project won’t be completed until 2026.