St. John Hospice

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.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Maybe having 4,000 or so undergraduates in the full throws of life isn’t such a bad thing for those on their way out?

    If anything, the residual marijuana smoke will ease the pain a little.

    Posted by The Kommander | September 3, 2009, 10:49 pm
  2. *life as neighbours isn’t*

    Posted by The Kommander | September 3, 2009, 10:50 pm
  3. Oh how I miss this sort of stuff. Wait.

    Its kind of sad to think that when, one day, I pay a visit to UBC, its likely that every walking train, garden, lawn, park, tree, path, etc, that I ever enjoyed walking through, or on, or by, will be gone. Instead there will be some random shining glass/wood building decrying how wonderful and diverse the university is.

    Maybe they can stick something along Main Mall too. I do believe that the grass space in the middle could fit a nice elongated sort-of admin building or Starbucks or some other profit-making entity. Or maybe a 4-story parking-lot.

    Posted by Peter | September 4, 2009, 5:47 am
  4. Great article Alex, I’m really excited for Insiders this year. I am not excited for octogenarians near Vanier as their arthritis prohibits them from competing in beerpong.

    Posted by Geoff | September 4, 2009, 6:57 am
  5. [...] be sure to check out Alex Lougheed’s excellent recap of the progression so [...]

    Posted by Terry » Archive » UBC Prioritizes Octogenarians Over Student Life | September 4, 2009, 11:18 am
  6. I just cannot understand how isolated and clueless whoever selected the location must be. I actually cannot comprehend how a sober, reasonable person could think this would benefit students, the residents of a hospice (they wouldn’t appreciate being woken up, and they would be), or the university’s image since it’s bad for both.
    Epic, and I mean epic, fail.

    Posted by Jen | September 4, 2009, 12:18 pm
  7. The location they were kicking around for this two years ago was at the north end of the Botanical Gardens’ parking lot. It would have been difficult for anyone to complain about that.

    It’s also not clear to me how, if this really is connected to UBC’s research mission, the OCP enters into it.

    Posted by F. Hydrant | September 4, 2009, 3:00 pm
  8. @F. Hydrant: That’s concerned me as well. I need to crack open the OCP again, but C&CP seems to be convinced that the old site would require an OCP amendment. Perhaps they spoke with Metro Vancouver and Metro said it needs one? The board resolution was pretty clear that the Botanical Gardens was the intended site, provided OCP stuff could be cleared.

    Posted by Alex Lougheed | September 5, 2009, 2:07 am
  9. So I’m not totally sure why this is so upsetting. It seems like this plan doesn’t actually harm students. In fact, the only people it seems to potentially cause problems for is the terminally ill who will be living on campus, and I’m sure that was something that was considered. I don’t see any problem with having terminally ill people as neighbours. In fact, I thin it would be hugely beneficial to students to have people unlike themselves on campus. Having students work with them and learn that UBC is not simply an institution for students would, I think, be hugely beneficial.

    Posted by Maria | September 6, 2009, 10:45 pm
  10. I think a problem arises when it seems likely to assume that severe noise restrictions will be imposed on Vanier as a result of the Hospice. These noise restrictions would be both unenforceable and incredibly detrimental to the non classroom life of first year students.

    Also just at a philosophical level, I have no problem with filling an important health service demand and potentially generating revenue, but I think that you always have to do a cost benefit analysis weighing these benefits against the detriment to students who are (at least in theory) at the very core of the UBC strategic plans.

    Posted by Kyle | September 7, 2009, 12:31 pm
  11. Also, an additional cost in the cost benefit analysis is that this location will probably significantly reduce the quality of life of the seniors in the hospice, as even if the people in Vanier try to be sensitive to the hospice, they are after all first year university students, and they won’t (and shouldn’t have to) hugely restrain themselves throughout the year.

    Posted by Kyle | September 7, 2009, 12:34 pm
  12. [...] Community Planning decided the best site for a home for the terminally ill on campus is in a student residential neighbourhood. The Board is to next discuss it at its September 17th [...]

    Posted by Summer News Recap : UBC Insiders | September 9, 2009, 11:19 am
  13. [...] got a mail from the planning department: St. John Hospice will not be built behind Marine Drive! There is much to rejoice here, as it points to something in [...]

    Posted by No More Hospice Behind Marine Drive : UBC Insiders | October 2, 2009, 11:55 am
  14. [...] stepped in and passed a resolution in support. Furthermore, UBC has traditionally not worked in student or community interests with respect to land-use and development, and governance represents the [...]

    Posted by Race Profile: VP Academic and University Affairs : UBC Insiders | January 19, 2010, 5:03 pm
  15. [...] moved a proposed hospice, despite the fact that no student had raised this as an issue prior to this blog. He also claimed he helped “bring a substantially larger number of students to the [Campus [...]

    Posted by UBC Insiders Endorses: AMS Elections 2010 : UBC Insiders | January 24, 2010, 8:41 pm
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