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City wants update on hospital tower

By Don Fennell

Published 3:25 PDT, Fri September 20, 2019

Anxious to hear the status of a proposed new acute care tower at Richmond Hospital, city council is sending a letter to the province requesting an update.

It’s been nearly 18 months since Premier John Horgan told an eager crowd packed into the hospital atrium March 29, 2018 that the government was committed to replace the long-awaited facility. While actual construction wasn’t expected to begin until closer to 2020, it was understood a business plan would proceed, and be completed, in this span. Richmond city council would like to know where the business plan is at, as well as a timeline of the treasury board approval.

“I know this is front of mind to a lot of people in Richmond,” said Coun. Linda McPhail, who also congratulated the Richmond Hospital Foundation on having achieved 80 per cent of its fundraising goal of $50 million to go toward construction.

Coun. Bill McNulty added “we are in a ready state (and) we are the only municipality in the province that has this (foundation) money earmarked.”

Coun. Chak Au said it was important to write a letter at this time given actual construction was supposed to start in 2020. He said a new tower is a “top priority” for residents of Richmond.

Added Coun. Harold Steves, who sat on the hospital board in 1968: “We’ve had some tremendous improvements in equipment and care, but the building itself is archaic. We’ve got to have a much better facility than that.”

Opened in 1966, the original tower had six storeys and 108 beds. Today, Richmond Hospital has about 231 beds and serves Richmond, South Vancouver and Delta, as well as people using Vancouver International Airport, and BC Ferries. 

Richmond Hospital Foundation president and CEO Natalie Meixner has said there is growing list of challenges associated with the aging structure, which is well past its lifespan and bursting at the seams. She said the tower’s building envelope, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are all failing and seismic capacity now meets only 17 per cent of current standards.

Additionally, it is understood the building would be subject to collapse if there was an earthquake of 5.9 or greater on the Richter scale. The operating rooms are built below the flood plain and also subject to liquefaction.

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