Construction begins on new $2.2-billion St. Paul's Hospital

The price of the Station Street complex has risen by nearly $1 billion in less than a decade

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      The most expensive health-care facility in Vancouver history is finally being built.

      The province announced the kickoff today of construction of the $2.2-billion St. Paul's Hospital at the Jim Pattison Medical Centre on False Creek Flats.

      It will house up to 548 beds as well as pulmonary, renal, surgical, transplant, and eating-disorder programs and referral centres.

      “After more than a decade and a half of stalling, I am proud that our government gave this project the green light and took further action for this new, state-of-the-art facility," Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a news release. "The St. Paul’s Hospital will continue its legacy of serving the people around the province now and in the future.”

      Providence Health Care first expressed an interest in redeveloping St. Paul's Hospital in 2002. Later, it identified the Station Street site in False Creek Flats as a possible location for a new hospital, pending completion of a business case.

      That led to opposition from West End residents, who created the Save St. Paul's Hospital Coalition to try to retain the hospital on Burrard Street.

      Prior to the 2009 provincial election, Dix accused the B.C. Liberal government of having a "secret agenda" to downgrade St. Paul's on Burrard Street.

      In fact, Dix warned that there was a good chance that the hospital's widely admired cardiac, renal services, and teaching functions would be transferred to other facilities in the region, converting St. Paul's into a "community hospital".

      The following year, the then B.C. Liberal health minister, Kevin Falcon, promised that St. Paul's would not be downgraded on Burrard Street.

      In 2012, then premier Christy Clark and then finance minister Mike de Jong pledged a $500-million upgrade to the hospital on Burrard Street. But by 2015, Clark's government was eager to proceed with the new facility on Station Street, estimated to cost $1.2 billion and having an opening date in 2022.

      Two years later, businessman Jim Pattison announced a $75-million donation to the complex.

      By 2019, the price tag had risen to $1.9 billion, with a scheduled opening in 2026.

      Now, the hospital is expected to cost $2.2 billion, with $1.3 billion of that coming from the B.C. government. Patients will begin being admitted in 2027.

      According to the B.C. government, the construction of the project will create 8,523 direct jobs. Another 5,383 indirect jobs will result from the purchase of construction material, manufacturing, and food services.