Two of the largest employers in our region are the two main VIHA hospitals, the Royal Jubilee and the Victoria General. They could and should be significant local economic engines beyond the simple employment of a large number of people.
The Victoria General is well placed for people to get to in much of the region from the access off of Hwy #1 or Helmcken, much better than the old location just north of Beacon Hill park. The site was large enough to allow for the development of a significant sized hospital. But the location is isolated from everything else. There are no commercial areas nearby, there are no services nearby. The site is a completely isolated from everything else.
The site is large enough to allow for a number of neighbouring commercial buildings. Every hospital has a need for ancillary services nearby. It also makes sense for various businesses to be located nearby.
There is a six and half acre site to the west side of the hospital that could be a good site for a series of eight to ten story commercial office towers. The ground floor could host a drug store, a food fair, and some other related commercial stores. Some of the towers could also offer hotel space, there is a demand by families to be able to stay close to the hospital while their family member is in care. There could also be some interest in having condo housing on the site.
The parking lot of the hospital is an eight acre area of pavement. This is a complete waste of space on any and every level. VIHA should consider allowing the development of the parking lot space for other uses. The location would make a very good light industrial location. The parking could all by placed under ground on the six and half acre site to the west of the hospital.
There are needs for industrial uses of land near a hospital, labs, storage space, medical supply companies, specialized medical repair companies, and many more in house and private businesses. It is not unreasonable to have areas close to the hospital be available for these uses.
By building a neighbouring commercial development and allowing for an appropriate light industrial location as well, the hospital site becomes a more complete location. It also becomes more of a transportation hub.
The Royal Jubilee
The hospital is now a significant campus of buildings. There are numerous buildings near the hospital that are being used related medical businesses and various health related agencies. There is a case to be made for the creation of a hospital and medical related district.
On the site of the hospital about a 2.5 acres of land om the south side is parking lot. This is land that could provide a location for the development commercial and industrial use on the site. The old towers are supposed to come down in the future, this expands the space to allow for more development. Light industrial connected to the hospital would be well placed in this location.
At the southwest corner of Fort and Richmond there is a 1.3 acre property that is very underused and could be very easily redeveloped into commercial space.
The west side of Richmond from Fort through to Haultain has the potential to provide development on close to 15 acres of land. Much of it is still single family house, but there are other uses already along Richmond already such as CNIB or office blocks.
One significant need in the immediate area is a for a small reasonable priced hotel. This need is crucial in the Royal Jubilee because of the BC Cancer Agency. Patients from all over the island need to come to the Royal Jubilee for treatment. Family members come with them and need some place to be able to stay that is close to where the treatment is taking place.
With the number of people working in the area, and an increase through related development, there is a strong case for more development of retail commercial space on the ground floor. Over the last generation the face of the hospital has shifted from Fort Street to Bay and Richmond. Commercial retail development at Bay and Richmond would make a lot of sense now with the new patient tower opening.
Working With What We Have
The hospitals are already in place, it only makes sense for us to use these as the focus of a development area. New development would add to the what is already their and create a much more viable area. To date no one has made this a priority in local government planning, this needs to change