Private hospital expansion plan bothers residents in Vancouver neighbourhood

Group wants to rezone three properties on Cornwall

They dont mind the 75-bed complex care facility in their neighbourhood, but residents just west of Kits Beach dont want it expanded to 170 beds.

Were all supportive of seniors care, but what theyre proposing is just too large for the area, said Debbie Thomas, who lives in a condo across the lane from Point Grey Private Hospital. Its like dropping a wing of VGH in the centre of a quiet neighbourhood.

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The Care Group wants to rezone three properties on Cornwall from multiple dwelling to comprehensive development. Two three-storey apartment buildings with a total of 17 suites would be demolished and replaced with a three-storey addition to the east and a four-storey addition to the west. The Care Group was recently in the news for proposing to rezone the historic Casa Mia estate to establish a care facility on Southwest Marine Drive.

Residents worry noise and congestion from ambulances, service vehicles, staff and visitors would increase. Thomas said her neighbourhood next to Kits Beach Park is quiet in the winter and not that bad in the summer.

Residents worry a rezoning could set a precedent for other large developments.

Point Grey Private Hospital expanded from 50 beds to 75 beds in 2006.

Thomas, whos lived in her condo across from the facility for 29 years, said she didnt pay much attention when the previous expansion was proposed, but construction occurred outside of permitted hours, and she believes that brought residents out to the April 24 open house hosted by the city.

Shes a member of the Take Back Kits group that was founded to oppose the expansion and handed out 700 leaflets in advance of the open house.

Maureen McIntosh, a partner in The Care Group, doesnt recall problems with previous construction. She wants to expand the facility to meet the demand for long-term care and provide seniors with accommodation in a pleasant locale.

She doesnt think residents should worry about increased noise and traffic.

Its not a hospital, McIntosh said. And every apartment in Kitsilano has a garbage can and they all get garbage picked up, and probably, they get more garbage picked up than we do at our hospital.

Thomas said the 2006 expansion obliterated at least one neighbours view. She said adding a fourth storey to the west would block her view, absolutely.

Thomas, a mortgage broker, believes the city would reap higher property taxes from a rezoned facility while neighbours would see their property values drop.

Kent Munro, the citys assistant director of planning, wasnt sure if Thomas was right about the property taxes.

This kind of use, in Vancouver, at least, its not unusual to have it in a residential neighbourhood, he said.

He said city staff will analyze concerns from residents and that staff havent reached any conclusions. The need to meet the demands of an aging population with long-term care beds will need to be balanced with whether an expanded facility fits into the neighbourhood, he said.

Rezoning decisions are made by city council.

Thomas said neighbours support smaller-scale facilities that blend into residential neighbourhoods, such as a The Care Groups Braddan Private Hospital, which operates in a renovated condominium building with 51 beds in Kitsilano.

Take Back Kits members are supporting neighbours who oppose the Casa Mia rezoning.

Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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