Last September, in partnership with the Vancouver Hospice Society, the Order of St. John and Vancouver Coastal Health, the Board of Governors passed a partial Board 1 to build a hospice. The building will only cost UBC marginal maintenance costs, the management will be undertaken by VCH, and the building is forfeited to UBC in at least fifty years. A good deal for all parties. The Board approved the plan, and sent the planning department off to come up with a site and to contract out the design.
Wanting to give the Planning Department guidance, the Board resolution charges that the site is to be “compatible with adjacent usages” since “campus life is probably somewhat more boisterous than that typically associated with the tranquil environment of a hospice”. Under that guidance, Planning came up with eight possible sites.
Because of future planning considerations and an aversion of amending the Official Community Plan, Planning went with Site 4, just west of St. John’s College, south of Trail 6 to Wreck Beach, and sandwiched between Place Vanier and Marine Drive student residences. One of the less “boisterous” locations on campus to be sure.
When faced with the question of contracting out the design, the Order of St. John, who presumably consulted extensively with Planning, went with Bryce Rositch‘s architectural firm, Rositch Hemphill & Associates Architects. Bryce served as chairman of the UBC Board’s Property and Planning Committee from at least 2006 until last year. I assume UBC’s fair, independent contracting process considered all the dozens of Vancouver architectural firms on level-footing, and that the interests of the University were put ahead of contracting to a friend. The lack of transparency in such a process, given the result, undercuts at least my confidence that UBC is using my money prudently though, regardless of the facts.
The proposed site and design then went to the President’s Property and Planning Advisory Committee. PPPAC is a committee composed mostly of appointed administrators that has taken over much of the role and authority of the Senate’s mostly-elected Academic Building Needs Committee. Students on this committee are the AMS VP Academic/University Affairs, as well as two student senators. It survived.
One of the last stages of the consultation process is the public open house. If you can find out about it, that is (good luck). About ten members of the public attended the open house, each in opposition to the proposed site. Those opposed mostly came from St. John’s College, who have been having a lively discussion about this proposal over their internal mailing list. The Director of St. John’s College, a prominent Chinese historian, was steaming as he felt he has been shut out of the process, and has been unable to voice his opposition to those with actual authority. Other parties opposed to the site include the Wreck Beach Preservation Society, who oppose almost everything, and the ten-to-twenty students I’ve spoken to who are actually aware of what’s going on. When asked for comment, the managing director of housing did not respond, though the director of planning said he supported the site location.
Provided all goes according to plan, final Board 1 approval is scheduled for this September the 17th, and then St. John’s College, Marine Drive and Vanier will have the terminally ill as neighbours.