Vancouver heritage expert wants St. Paul’s Hospital fixed

This week Donald Luxton, president of Heritage Vancouver Society in a article by Mathew Burrows in the Straight was quoted as saying: “ it’s an “opportune” time for “substantial investment in the buildings” at St. Paul’s Hospital.”

For the full Straight ariticle:Matt Burrows

If one thinks of how the earthquakes of this week have reek such destruction, loss of life and injury in New Zealand, its hard not see how it is imperative that St. Paul’s Hospital be renewed as quickly as possible.

One of the struggles of the Save St. Paul’s Coalition has been to demonstrate that the advocacy of keeping a fully funded public hospital on the Burrard St. site is not rooted in self-interest. There are a number of strong reasons why renewing on the downtown site on Burrard Street is most appropriate, possible and prudent. One of the compelling notions is the historical legacy of the buildings and social legacy of the hospital being on its current site for the last 117 years.

The Sisters of Providence open St. Paul’s back in 1894 as part of their mission to serve the poor and needy of Vancouver. If an institution as important as a hospital is on a site for 117 years there has to be very compelling reasons why it should be in that location. Over a 100 k folks live and work within walking distance of St. Paul’s hospital and depend on the services that it provides.

The hospital is ideally situated on the north side of False Creak to provide medical service to the downtown population. In the event of earthquake how the bridges would stand up is uncertain. It is of critically importance that the hospital be seismically upgraded to serve this downtown population.

While it is not well known, St. Paul’s has a sizable out of city patient population that comes to St. Paul’s for life saving procedures and treatment. The hospital being located downtown, it is easily accessible by public transit and there are many hotels for family to stay in while family and friends are receiving treatment.

There is also a whole host of medical infrastructure and businesses that have organically grown up around St. Paul’s Hospital. Pharmacies to have prescriptions filled, doctor’s offices and medical laboratories are located within a stones throw of the hospital.

The heritage value of the St. Paul’s Hospital campus has been among the strong reasons why the downtown site was the appropriate site for the renewal of the hospital. Some my argue that heritage preservation is a luxury and not an important critical factor in the debate of around the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital. But it is hard to underestimate the importance of preserving the older buildings of this relatively young city to the rich fabric of Vancouver’s future.

Heritage Vancouver is very vocal advocate for the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital on the Burrard St. site. St. Paul’s has been on the Heritage Vancouver’s top 10 most endangered buildings for some time.

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