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Posts Tagged "family"

26Sep

B.C. family of 5 living out of van draws attention at NDP campaign stop

by admin

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. — For the past five months, 69-year-old Betty Nicolaye and her family of five have been on a desperate search for housing that has turned empty every time.

“Houses are selling like hot cakes around here,” she said Thursday after an NDP campaign announcement in Campbell River, B.C.  “One application after another, they keep telling us there are 80 people on the list and we never get any calls.”

In April, Nicolaye’s home of five years was sold and since then, she has applied to dozens of rental units but nothing has worked out.

She and her husband are on a pension, her one son has a disability and two others work as janitors. Together they can barely afford a five-bedroom home, which costs approximately $3,000 a month, but Nicolaye said the properties just aren’t available.

“It’s not good. It’s hard, but it’s harder being the mom because you are trying to be the tough person,” she said.

According to the latest census, the median income in Nicolaye’s home riding of North-Island-Powell River is $32,254, below the national average of $34,204. The average rent, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, is pegged at $833 a month.

Knowing she was facing an uphill battle for housing —  the toughest she’s experienced after 30 years in Campbell River — Nicolaye bought a “beat up motorhome” to provide temporary shelter for her kids, while she and her husband live in a tent. The family pays a dollar each for a shower at a nearby gas station and right now Nicolaye says they are currently living out of their van. 

“It’s been rough,” she said. “Now it’s so cold that you wake up in your bed and the blankets are wet, you don’t feel warm.”

Nicolaye is not alone in her unsuccessful search for housing in British Columbia. A lack of affordable homes and rental properties has been an issue in the province for years.

At an announcement in Campbell River Thursday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh re-committed to building 500,000 affordable homes within 10 years. He also pledged up to $5,000 in annual funding for roughly 500,000 households who are spending at least 30 per cent of their pre-tax income on rent.

“This will make the difference for families that are unable to pay their bills, for families that are making a tough choice between do they pay for their groceries or do they pay rent,” Singh said.

 “These are difficult choices that families are making — far too difficult for far too many families — and we’ll put an end to that.”

Nicolaye was at that announcement and said the party’s pledge would help people like her as long as more properties hit the market. She said she was not brought to the event by the party, but was encouraged to attend by a local Indigenous group.

“I don’t know how anyone can hear that story and not be heartbroken,” Singh told reporters travelling on his campaign bus after meeting her. “I think about her and I think that’s why we need to tackle housing and why we need to build half a million new houses but also why we need to do something immediately because for her, we couldn’t afford to wait.”

A report from the parliamentary budget officer said the current national housing strategy, introduced by the Liberals, would build 150,000 new affordable units, modernize 300,000 existing units and protect 385,000 community housing units.

With files from The Canadian Press

12Sep

Surrey teen’s cardiac arrest leaves family pleading for defibrillators in schools

by admin

The sound of a phone ringing has put Surrey resident Esmeralda Gomez on edge for weeks.

Back in July, she received the kind of call every parent dreads. Her son Alex had been rushed to hospital after collapsing at the gym.

“It was the worst feeling,” Gomez said. “We got the phone call saying your son has collapsed, he may not make it so you need to get over here.”

Alex, who was then just 14 years old, had unexpectedly gone into cardiac arrest. He would spend the next 12 hours in a coma.

And Gomez said her son might not have survived at all if it hadn’t been for the lifeguards from an adjoining pool who rushed into the gym, used an automated external defibrillator (AED) on him and then performed CPR.

“The doctors at (BC Children’s Hospital) said if he didn’t have the AED machine used, he wouldn’t be here today,” Gomez said.

Before the incident, the family had no reason to suspect there was anything wrong with Alex. They described him as an athletic high schooler who played competitive soccer.

To their dismay, the cause of his episode is still unclear almost two months later.

“Tests all come back normal. They can’t find anything so we’re waiting for the genetic tests to come back,” Gomez said.

In the meantime, they’re terrified he could suffer another cardiac arrest somewhere that doesn’t have the kind of life-saving technology that spared their family a tragedy the first time – including at his school.

“We were extremely shocked to find out the school didn’t carry an AED machine,” Gomez said. “North Van has them, Coquitlam has them, why not Surrey?”

The provincial government doesn’t currently require schools across the province to stock an AED, something Gomez would like to see changed. The Ministry of Education told CTV News it follows the advice of B.C.’s provincial health officer, who currently supports the installation of AEDs in schools where there are children or staff with medical conditions that could require them.

There is also a private member’s bill in the works to create clear regulations around AEDs for the entire province, and to improve accessibility.

But the Surrey school district said for now, it’s facing issues around funding and maintenance.

“It’s not as simple as saying let’s put an AED in the school. I think there’s a number of things, a number of considerations outside the reach of the school district,” spokesperson Doug Strachan said.

Strachan promised the district will be addressing the situation with Gomez’s family, however.

“We will work with the family if there’s a need identified by a medical professional,” he said.

Gomez and her husband hope something will be done quickly. Experts caution that just 15 per cent of British Columbians who suffer cardiac arrest manage to survive.

“For every minute that goes by, your survival reduces by 10 per cent, so there’s really a small time frame where doing CPR and using an AED are extremely important,” said Gillian Wong of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

4Jun

Housing co-op’s policies ‘oppressive and unfairly prejudicial’ to young family: B.C. judge

by admin


A B.C. Supreme Court judge has found that a Vancouver housing co-op’s policies toward a young family of four struggling to get by in a two-bedroom unit to be harsh and unfair.


Arlen Redekop/Postmedia/File

New policies implemented by a Vancouver housing co-op are “oppressive and unfairly prejudicial” to a family of four struggling to get by in a two-bedroom unit as well as to other co-op families considered to be “under-housed,” a judge has ruled.

The family was on a waiting list for seven years before being accepted as members of the Vancouver East Cooperative Housing Association in 2013 and being offered a two-bedroom basement suite in a rancher-style house built in the 1940s.

At the time the couple’s oldest boy was six and their youngest two and with only two bedrooms in the home, the family, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, were considered to be “under-housed” members of the co-op.

The oldest boy, who is now 12, has a disability which is sufficiently serious that he requires his own bedroom. The other bedroom is occupied by the parents and the younger boy.

“The evidence also establishes that the eight-year-old is negatively impacted by this situation,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Francesca Marzari said in a ruling posted on the court’s website Tuesday.

“Furthermore, according to the petitioners, the 12-year-old’s condition is worsening. On any measure, including the Co-op’s policies, the petitioners have been and are inadequately housed. The Co-op does not dispute this.”

When the family moved into their unit, the same policies relating to unit allocation on the basis of housing need had been in place for well over a decade, court heard.

A member who was “over-housed” was someone living in a unit where there were more bedrooms than people and was responsible for self-reporting their situation to the co-op’s board.

Thus two people residing in a two-bedroom unit would be considered appropriately housed but two people living in a three-bedroom unit were over-housed.

Since moving into their co-op unit, the family has attempted to get permission to move into a larger unit to no avail.

When the co-op refused to act, the couple filed a petition in late 2017 to have the court rule that the policies were oppressive or unfairly prejudicial to their interests.

They challenged, in particular, a new policy that allowed non-member adults or housemates to move in with over-housed units, avoiding the requirement that over-housed members might have to move.

The policy, voted in by the membership in May 2018, substantially increased the co-op’s tolerance of over-housing by “essentially removing the problem of over-housing by nearly defining it out of existence,” noted the judge.

“The evidence suggests that the petitioners’ efforts have garnered them negative and increasingly hostile attention from the board and other members of the Co-op, particularly as a result of this litigation.”

The judge concluded that the changes were a marked departure from the reasonable expectations of the under-housed members of the co-op and were oppressive and unfairly prejudicial.

“I find that the effects of the identified portions of the New Policy to be harsh, burdensome, and inherently unfair, particularly in the context of a Co-op that has such a long-standing under-housed population.”

Marzari struck down several provisions of the policy and edited parts of others in addition to ordering disclosure from the board.

The co-op has 39 units in 13 buildings at six locations. The association has existed since 1979.

The members collectively own and support the co-op and its units and provide affordable and sustainable housing that “nurtures a diverse community,” according to the co-op’s website.

Deborah Labun, a lawyer for the petitioners, said Tuesday that she was “impressed” by the judge’s ruling.

“It’s so clear that she got down with these facts and really thought hard about what would be just. She really put in the work, defended her decision on a broad review of the law.”

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28Jan

Online applications to sponsor family immigrants hit limit in just 11 minutes

by admin

It took just minutes today for Canadians to snap up 27,000 online application spots for bringing parents or grandparents into the country — fuelling frustration and fury among people who say the new system is flawed.

At noon ET today, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada opened up to applicants its online form for indicating interest in sponsoring a family member through the 2019 Parent and Grandparent Program.

Just eleven minutes later, the department tweeted that the applications received had met the annual limit and the form had been closed to new applicants.

A flood of angry complaints followed from frustrated would-be applicants, many of whom said they had cleared their schedules and set up their computers to fill out the online form — only to find it shut down within minutes.

“This is not a concert ticket you are selling, this is about uniting families. The whole process is atrocious,” wrote Naimul Khan on Twitter.

Some called for an independent audit of IRCC’s sponsorship process.

Cayo Whyte of Peterborough, Ont. took the day off work to fill out the form to sponsor his mother from Jamaica. He managed to get on the website and load the form — but by the time he completed it, the application window had closed.

“I feel so disappointed, so heartbroken, so stressed out. The words aren’t there to describe how disappointed I feel,” he told CBC News.

Whyte, who has been in Canada since 2009, said he has worked hard to advance his education and get a well-paid job.

“I am doing everything by the book but I cannot seem to make any headway in supporting my family in coming here,” he said.

Whyte said the first-in process is particularly unfair to him because he took a bit longer — about three minutes — to fill out the form because he has a disability. His past attempts to sponsor his mom through the former lottery system were also unsuccessful.

The Liberal government scrapped its controversial lottery system for reuniting immigrant families and adopted a first-come, first-served online system after an angry backlash from would-be sponsors.

Under the family reunification program, about 20,500 parents and grandparents will be admitted to Canada in 2019, and 21,000 next year.

This year, 27,000 were allowed to sign the “interest to sponsor” form online, accounting for duplication and errors. Eligible sponsors must provide proof of status and financial eligibility.




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6Dec

Huawei CFO arrested at YVR appears to have family ties to Vancouver

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Westside Vancouver home owned by Xiaozong Liu. Liu is reported to be the husband of Wanzhou Meng, a Huawei executive and scion arrested in Vancouver Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities.


Arlen Redekop / PNG

Huawei chief financial officer Wanzhou Meng’s family appears to have connections to at least two pricey Vancouver homes including one in the exclusive Shaughnessy neighbourhood, property records show.

Meng, who also goes by the name Sabrina, was arrested by Canadian police while changing planes at Vancouver International Airport Dec. 1 on a warrant issued under the Extradition Act at the request of U.S. authorities.

She is due to appear in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Friday morning for a continuation of her bail hearing.

Crown prosecutors have declined to say why Meng is being sought for extradition, but the Wall Street Journal has reported that it is related to alleged violations of U.S. trade sanctions, which Reuters news reported were sanctions against Iran.

The Vancouver houses, one on Matthews Ave. in Shaughnessy, the other on West 28th Avenue in Dunbar, are registered to Xiaozong Liu — according to B.C. Land Title registry records — the same name as Meng’s husband, who is identified in Chinese media.

No one answered the door when Postmedia News visited the Dunbar home Thursday afternoon, but neighbourhood residents said they recognized Meng from media reports, though they did not want to talk on the record.

The yard of the two-storey executive-style home on 28th Avenue is well kept, with decorative miniature lawn furniture out front.

Shutters were closed and drapes were drawn and a security camera monitored the front door.

Meng, 46, is deputy chairwoman of Huawei Technologies, one of China’s telecom giants and a family business founded in 1987 by her former military-engineer father Ren Zhengfei.

Chinese enterprises are often family businesses and family members take the best spots if they are qualified and interested, said Neil Abramson, a retired professor of business strategy at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.

“She’s the daughter of the chairman so she would be like Ivanka Trump. She would be the Ivanka Trump of Huawei,” said Abramson, adding that Huawei is like the “Apple of China” and Meng is an extremely important business person.

“It would be like apprehending someone like Bill Gates or some very important American business person.”

Bloomberg News reported that Meng’s marital status was unclear, but in 2013 she denied in another media report that she was married to Huawei board member and chief strategy marketing officer Xu Wenwei.

The website Best China News references Meng appearing at a school anniversary ceremony with her husband, Xiaozong Liu.

Meng rose through the company ranks through hard work rather than privilege, said Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Asian Research.

“She was actually at one point criticized by her father and being suppressed from promotion. That was a well-known story and she eventually proved herself and moved herself up in the ranks,” he said.

Her bio on the company website says Meng joined Huawei in 1993 and held various positions across the company, including director of international accounting and CFO of Huawei Hong Kong. She holds a master’s degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

For a period of time she was in charge of Huawei’s internationalization efforts, which have been extremely successful, said Jiang.

Property documents list Liu as owner of the home on 28th Avenue in Vancouver since 2009, when the home was purchased for $2.7 million. Records also show that Liu has owned the Matthews Avenue property since 2016, when it was purchased for $15 million

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With files from The Canadian Press and Bloomberg




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10Nov

Family of VIU student who died urge anyone struggling to reach out

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Spencer Stone Shutes is being remembered by family as a bright and caring person.



Spencer Stone Shutes is being remembered by family as a bright and caring person.


FAMILY PHOTO / Times Colonist

The 21-year-old Vancouver Island University student who died after falling from the fifth and top floor of the school’s library on Monday is being remembered by family as a bright and caring person who was a whiz with computers.

Spencer Stone Shutes was studying computer science and had just completed the first year of his electrical apprenticeship at the Nanaimo university, said his 24-year-old brother, Brandon Stone.

“For 21 years, he was my best friend,” Stone said.

Shutes loved his family and his Russian blue cat, Simba.

Shutes’ nickname was “fact-man,” his brother said, because he retained an encyclopedic knowledge about so many topics.

Shutes devoured documentaries and loved watching the X Files and Top Gear. He graduated from Wellington Secondary School in Nanaimo in 2015 with top marks. Stone said any suggestion of skipping school was politely turned down by his younger brother.

Shutes, Stone and Stone’s girlfriend all worked for Shaw Cable.

“He was very good at that job and well-loved among his team,” Stone said.

Stone, a musician, sometimes played gigs at Longwood Brew Pub and one of his favourite photos of Shutes is from a night he watched the gig alongside their mother.

Shutes, wearing a button-up shirt and wire-frame glasses, is smiling and raising his glass. Stone said that’s how he’ll always remember his brother.

Shutes lived with his mother and supported her financially, as she is on permanent disability.

Stone has started a Go Fund Me donation page to help their mother financially. “He would have wanted her to be taken care of, that was always at the forefront of his mind,” Stone said.

Shutes was busy with work, school and looking after their mom, and there was no indication he was struggling, Stone said.

“I never thought that this would happen and having it happen first-hand shows me it’s so important for every person to know you do have people who care about you and you do have people who you can reach out to.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed beyond belief and you feel like you have no options, just give yourself an hour, talk to someone on the phone. Because those moments can pass. Just seek out somebody before you do something that you can’t take back.”

The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating the death. No foul play is suspected.

Coroners Service spokesman Andy Watson could not confirm the cause of death, saying it’s early in the investigation. “We look to determine who died, when, where and by what means. We’re in the early stages of the investigation.”

A date has yet to be set for a funeral.

In a statement, Vancouver Island University thanked the school community “for coming together to support each other as we navigate through the impacts of the tragic loss that occurred on Monday.”

The school is providing counselling to anyone who witnessed the death or anyone who is struggling with the news.

Shutes’ family gave the university permission to identify him.

“Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family and friends and everyone who has been impacted,” the university said in a statement. “At times like this, it is important that we continue to come together with kindness and respect and provide support to each other, as we come to terms with what has happened. We are heartened that VIU and the broader community continues to support Spencer’s family and friends and each other in so many different and compassionate ways.”

kderosa@timescolonist.com

• The family’s donation page is at GoFundMe.com; search for Spencer Stone Shutes.

• Anyone who is struggling can access around-the-clock support through the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888.


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10Nov

Family of VIU student who died urge anyone struggling to reach out

by admin

Spencer Stone Shutes is being remembered by family as a bright and caring person.



Spencer Stone Shutes is being remembered by family as a bright and caring person.


FAMILY PHOTO / Times Colonist

The 21-year-old Vancouver Island University student who died after falling from the fifth and top floor of the school’s library on Monday is being remembered by family as a bright and caring person who was a whiz with computers.

Spencer Stone Shutes was studying computer science and had just completed the first year of his electrical apprenticeship at the Nanaimo university, said his 24-year-old brother, Brandon Stone.

“For 21 years, he was my best friend,” Stone said.

Shutes loved his family and his Russian blue cat, Simba.

Shutes’ nickname was “fact-man,” his brother said, because he retained an encyclopedic knowledge about so many topics.

Shutes devoured documentaries and loved watching the X Files and Top Gear. He graduated from Wellington Secondary School in Nanaimo in 2015 with top marks. Stone said any suggestion of skipping school was politely turned down by his younger brother.

Shutes, Stone and Stone’s girlfriend all worked for Shaw Cable.

“He was very good at that job and well-loved among his team,” Stone said.

Stone, a musician, sometimes played gigs at Longwood Brew Pub and one of his favourite photos of Shutes is from a night he watched the gig alongside their mother.

Shutes, wearing a button-up shirt and wire-frame glasses, is smiling and raising his glass. Stone said that’s how he’ll always remember his brother.

Shutes lived with his mother and supported her financially, as she is on permanent disability.

Stone has started a Go Fund Me donation page to help their mother financially. “He would have wanted her to be taken care of, that was always at the forefront of his mind,” Stone said.

Shutes was busy with work, school and looking after their mom, and there was no indication he was struggling, Stone said.

“I never thought that this would happen and having it happen first-hand shows me it’s so important for every person to know you do have people who care about you and you do have people who you can reach out to.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed beyond belief and you feel like you have no options, just give yourself an hour, talk to someone on the phone. Because those moments can pass. Just seek out somebody before you do something that you can’t take back.”

The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating the death. No foul play is suspected.

Coroners Service spokesman Andy Watson could not confirm the cause of death, saying it’s early in the investigation. “We look to determine who died, when, where and by what means. We’re in the early stages of the investigation.”

A date has yet to be set for a funeral.

In a statement, Vancouver Island University thanked the school community “for coming together to support each other as we navigate through the impacts of the tragic loss that occurred on Monday.”

The school is providing counselling to anyone who witnessed the death or anyone who is struggling with the news.

Shutes’ family gave the university permission to identify him.

“Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family and friends and everyone who has been impacted,” the university said in a statement. “At times like this, it is important that we continue to come together with kindness and respect and provide support to each other, as we come to terms with what has happened. We are heartened that VIU and the broader community continues to support Spencer’s family and friends and each other in so many different and compassionate ways.”

kderosa@timescolonist.com

• The family’s donation page is at GoFundMe.com; search for Spencer Stone Shutes.

• Anyone who is struggling can access around-the-clock support through the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888.


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31Oct

London Drugs family gives $6.5 million toward new St. Paul’s Hospital

by admin

The cardiac centre at the new St. Paul’s Hospital will be named the Tong Louie Cardiac Wing in recognition of a $6.5-million donation from the Vancouver family that owns London Drugs, it was announced Tuesday.

Two charities — the London Drugs Foundation and the Tong and Geraldine Louie Family Foundation — are contributing the sum for the new hospital near Main Street and Terminal Avenue. The 124-year old hospital on Burrard Street is to be demolished after construction on the new hospital ends, in 2024 or later.


Brandt Louie speaks as St. Paul’s Foundation announces donations from the London Drug Foundation and the Louie family at Wall Centre Hotel in Vancouver, BC, Oct. 30, 2018.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

“As a 115-year-old B.C. owned and operated family company, we are proud of our lengthy history of giving back to the people of this province,” said Brandt Louie, chair of London Drugs Ltd.

“This is a proud moment for our family and we are honoured to be part of the bold, bright future of the new St. Paul’s.”

Louie said in a statement that family matriarch Geraldine Louie received exceptional care at St. Paul’s towards the end of her life and while being treated for congenital heart disease.


An image of the proposed Tong Louie Cardiac Wing at the St. Paul’s Hospital site in False Creek.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

The donation will be used for an in-patient wing of the hospital that will be built on the False Creek Flats. The wing will be located close to imaging and diagnostic areas, operating rooms, outpatient clinics, cardiac research labs and medical offices. The design is meant to allow patient treatment and research side-by-side.

Dr. Sean Virani, the physician program director for the Heart Centre, said the donation will help recruit cardiologists and  surgeons and expand care for patients. St. Paul’s is the only hospital in B.C. that performs heart transplants. Under pioneering interventional cardiologist Dr. John Webb, it has become world-famous for minimally invasive heart valve surgery.

Construction of the new hospital is not expected to begin for a few years as the City of Vancouver rezoning process is expected to take more than a year and soil remediation will require extensive work.

The B.C. government has not yet announced approval of the more than $1 billion business plan, but numerous announcements from the hospital foundation would suggest the project — first announced by the former Liberal government — will go ahead. Just over a year ago, health minister Adrian Dix said the redevelopment of St. Paul’s on the False Creek flats was one of his priorities.

It is expected the sale of the lands under the existing hospital will fund the construction of the new hospital, to which Jimmy Pattison has already pledged $75 million. While the hospital itself will still be called St. Paul’s, the campus will be called the Jim Pattison Medical Centre.

On Monday night, the foundation held an invitation-only gala event for past and future donors.


St. Paul’s Foundation announces donations from the Louie family, some of whom are pictured here (left to right) Gregory, Kurt, Brandt and Stuart, at Wall Centre Hotel in Vancouver, BC, Oct. 30, 2018.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Chronology of the site where new St. Paul’s Hospital will be built:

1912-20: False Creek drained to make way for construction of railway lines. A Great Northern Railway station is built on the site, with a Canadian National Railway station, which still stands, built to the south.

1930: Great Northern Railway freight sheds occupy the south end of the site. Businesses along Prior Street include Canadian Junk Co. and a junk storage warehouse.

1956: The site is occupied by Finning Factory and the Great Northern Railway freight shed. Prior Street businesses include the United Fruit Ltd., Canadian Junk and Great West Smelting.

1966: Great Northern Railway is moved and the train station is torn down.

2000: Schroeder Properties and ING Realty Partners purchase the site for $22 million from Trillium Corp., hoping to develop the site for the high-tech and dot-com industries.

2004: A Providence Health Care-affiliated entity buys 18.5 acres from Schroeder Properties and ING Realty Partners for just over $24 million. The entire amount is financed with a bank loan.

2010: Gravel is added to reinforce and level the site for use during the 2010 Olympic Games as a parking lot for the buses that transport people between Vancouver and Whistler.

2010: The B.C. government acknowledges it has paid millions in municipal taxes to hold the site for the future hospital.

2015: Providence Health Care, which manages St. Paul’s Hospital and numerous other Catholic health facilities, announces a new $1.2 billion hospital on the new site and the eventual demolition of the old hospital in the West End.

2017: Vancouver billionaire Jimmy Pattison announces a $75 million donation to the new St. Paul’s. NDP health minister Adrian Dix says the new hospital is a high priority.

2018: Fundraising, rezoning and public consultation process begins in earnest for the new St. Paul’s.

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