A Vancouver hospice has expressed grave concerns about a proposed Shaughnessy townhouse development.
The non-profit operator is warning that the residential project next door imperils the survival of its hospice.
In a letter to city council, the Vancouver Hospice Society (VHS) warned that the “adverse effects” of the development may lead to the closure of the end-of-life-care facility.
“This rezoning application seriously threatens the continuing operation of our highly respected and essential healthcare facility in Vancouver,” VHS board chair Stephen Roberts wrote.
The application seeks to rezone a single-family-dwelling property at 4575 Granville Street to allow the development of two 3.5-storey townhouse buildings with 21 rental units.
A city staff report to council stated that the project’s design responds to “privacy and overlook issues” raised by the hospice. However, VHS chair Roberts told council that the project’s “direct proximity to the hospice” could be fatal to the institution.
“The potential closure of the hospice will have a devastating effect on this essential community health service where 150 Vancouver residents from all socioeconomic backgrounds live and die each year,” Roberts wrote. “This loss will also affect hundreds of families who receive bereavement support through our organization.”
The rezoning application was referred on May 14, 2019, by council to a future public hearing, as recommended by city staff. In his letter, Roberts asked council to withdraw the item from its agenda on that day.
Councillors Rebecca Bligh and Sarah Kirby-Yung voted against the referral.
In his letter, Roberts said that the closure of the hospice will result in the loss of eight out of the total of 36 hospice beds in Vancouver.
“The financial losses to the public health care system as a result of hospice closure will be approximately $15,000 per day due to reliance on inappropriate hospitalizations,” Roberts noted.
Roberts also said that the hospice is “one of the few end-of-life care providers in the City of Vancouver where the dying can access MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying)”.
According to Roberts, the “human costs of potentially closing this vital community asset are immeasurable”.
It wasn’t the first time that the VHS has written the city about its concerns regarding the proposed townhouse development.
In October 2018, Roberts wrote the city, saying the residential project would “loom over” the facility, and “cause ongoing and undue hardship, stress, and anxiety to more than 150 people facing death who seek the carefully balanced serenity” of the place each year.
“It will be similarly distressing for the hundreds of family members, friends, and bereaved individuals who we also serve,” Roberts also noted.