MEDICINE MATTERS: Gala tonight for the “New St. Paul’s Hospital” – even before it’s officially approved

Artist’s concept of the new St. Paul’s Hospital.


The B.C. government hasn’t yet announced cabinet and Treasury Board approval for the St. Paul’s Hospital redevelopment plan.

But that hasn’t stopped donations from pouring in.

Tomorrow morning, the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation is set to announce – at the Sheraton Wall Centre – a sizeable donation for the new hospital that is expected to open in 2024 on the False Creek flats.

Nor has the lack of government approval precluded tonight’s invitation-only gala for “the new St. Paul’s.”

Red invitations like the one you see in this post have been sent to past and future donors.

The email invitation to the event at the Rocky Mountaineer was a bit of a surprise given the lack of government approval but I’m told this is not unusual for hospital fundraisers.

They need to get philanthropists on board long before governments issue press releases. And despite a $75 million pledge from Jimmy Pattison for the new hospital campus that will bear his name, the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation has plenty of fundraising to do since the project will likely cost well over $1 billion.

Conceptual drawing for new St. Paul’s Hospital campus.

A ministry of health spokeswoman said the government has nothing to announce on St. Paul’s yet so it regards the gala as a routine fundraising event.

(In 2012, the former Liberal government committed to funding of $500 million for the hospital redevelopment; I’m assuming that amount will have to increase substantially given the passage of time and increase in construction costs).

We can safely assume that financial institutions will have no hesitation granting construction loans since, apart from the fact taxpayers underwriting this massive project, the current site of the hospital on Burrard Street is expected to yield hundreds of millions of dollars when the hospital is torn down and the land sold off to developers.

The fact the government hasn’t announced its approval of the business plan hasn’t stopped the City of Vancouver rezoning process. Expect that process to take at least a year.

The new St. Paul’s Hospital campus rezoning concept envisions multiple buildings. IBI Group has submitted the application for the 18.5 acre site. It includes the new hospital, retail/commercial space, research facilities, professional offices childcare facilities and a hotel.

Community engagement is occurring now. It’s not clear how long the public engagement process will take before hearings on the applications to rezone the False Creek flats site from industrial to mixed use.

But it’s imperative civic politicians take into account the need for affordable housing close to the hospital since nurses and other healthcare providers are struggling to live in Vancouver, even with their solid salaries and incomes.

Indeed, I’m repeatedly hearing that nursing vacancies are becoming increasingly difficult to fill because of the housing affordability crisis.

A new hospital must be accompanied by affordable housing for the people who will work in it. The Jim Pattison Medical Centre, as it will be called, should have a residential component either on the campus or directly on the outskirts.

Read more about the challenges of the new site and a historical timeline here.

Follow me on Twitter: @MedicineMatters



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