Anton wants St. Paul's Hospital height restriction eased

Hospital cool to notion view restrictions need to be changed

A vote for Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton could also be a vote for a taller downtown hospital.

Anton announced a new platform position Wednesday morning supporting the expansion of St. Pauls Hospital by lifting the height restrictions on the site. The hospital is under height restrictions as part of the view corridors established by city staff two decades ago to protect views of the North Shore mountains.

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Redevelopment plans for the West End hospital, parts of which are over one hundred years old, have so far been limited to 11 stories. Anton said easing the height restriction will allow renovations to expand more quickly and save money.

It does not make sense to limit St. Pauls futureparticularly since it is surrounded by the tallest buildings in the city, said Anton. Our NPA team will give St. Pauls the height it needs so it can continue its top quality medical work for the city and the province.

In recent years, council has allowed building height limits to rise 45 metres to a maximum of 197 metres (646 feet or 62 storeys).

Anton said the pledge to lift height restrictions for St. Pauls is a result of community meetings she's held with residents, businesses and community organizations over the past two months.

A spokesperson for St. Paul's wouldn't say if more floors would necessarily be better for the hospital. We are not looking at it through that lens, said Shaf Hussain. These view cones are everywhere through the city and they are there for a reason. Basically, any development that we envision right now would have to adhere to all the codes that are in place. We haven't stated as a position anything that needs to change and our vision for development remain within the parameters that exist.

COPE park board candidate Brent Granby questioned the community support for Anton's initiative.

It seems a bit bizarre, said Granby, who also serves as the vice chair of the Save St. Paul's Coalition, a group dedicated to ensuring consultation is carried out before any changes are made to the hospital. The view cones have been reviewed by council just this past year and changes weren't supported by council or residents. This is a process that council has already gone through, where staff brought recommendations on relaxing some of the view cones and corridors in Vancouver, and it wasn't supported by council or residents. To put up a proposal where you would take away the restrictions of the view cones on the St. Paul's site seems not very realistic.

St. Pauls provides approximately 20 per cent of all acute care services in Vancouver Coastal Health area. Last month, provincial Health Minister Michael de Jong announced the facility would receive $17.2 million to replace aging electrical infrastructure and elevators. Nearly $60 million has been spent renovating and upgrading St. Pauls Hospital over the past 10 years.

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