British Columbia

Controversial UBC hospice subject of open house

A plan to build a controversial hospice at UBC will be up for discussion at an open house Tuesday afternoon.

A plan to build a controversial hospice at the University of British Columbia will be up for discussion at an open house Tuesday afternoon.

UBC spokesman Scott McRae said the open house will shed light on some of the controversy surrounding the project.

"There are a number of views on this and we're taking them all into account and people will be able to come to the session and see what the experts say on these issues," he said.

"UBC is a complete community. We have people living here from all over the world, so we've done a good job listening to people and listening to what's important to them."

In January, the university came under fire from a group of Chinese condo owners in a nearby high-rise who rejected the idea of a 15-bed palliative-care facility being built so close to their homes.

At the time, condo owner Janet Fong told CBC News residents in the building are of Asian descent and believe living so close to a hospice would bring bad luck, saying it's against their culture to have "dying people in our backyard."

Condo owners also expressed fear the hospice could cause property values to plummet in a building where a two-bedroom condo sells for nearly $1 million.

McRae said the university has hired consultants to address those and other concerns.

"We have, for example, an expert on traffic patterns and traffic movement," he said.

"This person has taken a look at the site, the location, and has come back with information about it, so it's really about us having listened to the community and we're coming back with answers to the questions they've asked."

The hospice is a joint project between the UBC faculty of medicine and the Order of St. John, and would be operated by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. The hospice will be used as a research and teaching facility.

The open house will be held at  Michael Smith Laboratories on the UBC campus at 4:30 p.m. PT.