The wonderful old St Paul’s Hospital is now for sale. It was announced some while ago that a new St Paul’s will be built on the False Creek Flats, and so the current 6.6 acre site in the West End has been put on the market.
I am sure any number of major developers are salivating at the prospect. However, what we don’t need are more high-end condo towers designed for foreign speculators and other 1%ers. In fact, the sales agent’s release itself notes that already “there are 11 active and 23 upcoming high-density condo projects in the Vancouver downtown core, delivering a total of 6,766 units. The average price of these units are reaching up to $2,154 PSF.” That’s more than $2 million for a 1,000 sq.ft condo.
What we do need are a lot of low-income and lower-income rentals, and the old St. Paul’s offers a tremendous opportunity to supply those in the medium term by renovating the current structures. Not only could this site supply a huge amount of affordable housing, it will save vast amounts of landfill space from any proposed redevelopment and, I am sure, will be cheaper to renovate than to demolish and rebuild.
The only question I have is whether we have any politicians, at any level of government, with the guts and the foresight to grab this opportunity and make it work for the working people of Vancouver?