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Would moving St. Paul's Hospital hurt access to service?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – With the BC NDP warning St. Paul’s Hospital may be moved to False Creek, questions are being raised about how that would hurt access to service.

Former Vancouver city planner Brent Toderian says there are big advantages to keeping a hospital downtown, “in terms of being right in the thick of things so to speak.”

He tells us not having that hospital where it is means the quality of access would change, and not necessarily in a positive way.

“Unlike many downtowns across North America, our downtown has a lot of people living in it. We have probably about 110,000 people living in the downtown peninsula and that’s slated to go up in the next few decades to about 140, 145 [thousand],” he explains. “Having a hospital in the middle of all that population and those people working is an asset. It’s a real asset for access to service, access to public health.”

If the NDP is right, the hospital could be converted to residential; Toderian says there’s a heritage issue with that.

“There’s a case to be made that says any time you change the use, you’re devaluing the heritage asset because it’s a heritage hospital. One school of thought is to say it should remain as a hospital,” he says.

“I suspect any conversations either now or anywhere in the future will have to start from the perspective of what can be changed and what cannot, or should not be changed.”