UBC right to move forward with campus hospice - Macleans.ca

UBC right to move forward with campus hospice

Nearby condo dwellers fear “ghosts”


A plan to build a hospice on the University of British Columbia campus is slated for approval in June, despite opposition from neighbouring condo-dwellers, who are worried about “bad luck” and “ghosts.”

They have protested the prospective 15-bed palliative since January because of culturally-specific fears. “Eighty per cent of the residents in this building are Asian, and 100 per cent of them are very upset,” said condo spokeswoman Janet Fan, at the time. “In Chinese culture, we are against having dying people in your backyard.”

While the project was initially delayed, a May 25 staff report recommends facility approval, to be finalized sometime next month.

I hope we will see construction sometime thereafter. This particular spin on ‘residents vs. new building’ can’t help but elicit hyperbole. You can dress is up with culturally sensitive language and subtle empathetic nods, but the issue will still be that a group of million-dollar condo owners don’t want to dying people soiling their 10th floor panoramic views. Physically or spiritually, it’s all the same.

But there are several reasons why UBC should not yield to demands to move the hospice. For one, the hospice does not pose any real, tangible threat to its neighbours. Data commissioned by UBC showed that property values of homes in nearby communities have increased since hospices have opened in the area. And unlike similar situations of community resistance—say, when a halfway house is proposed in a neighbourhood—the threat of physical danger is not present in this case. Bad luck can’t slash your tires.

But what about emotional turmoil? Surely some devout residents will experience anxiety and stress living next to a place where people are dying. Indeed, that’s unfortunate. But it’s no reason to change course. Institutions such as universities—as well as cities, provinces, and democratic countries as a whole—cannot allow religious belief to dictate policy. If someone legally purchases land and, for example, wants to open a LGBT community centre on that land, should she be prohibited based on its proximity to a church opposed to the LGBT lifestyle? Can a person prevent an interracial couple from moving in next door because he feels uneasy? Of course not. It would be unacceptable to force change in those cases, so it’s unacceptable to force change here.

The phrase ‘buyer beware’ is cliché for a reason. We too often forget that we can’t control who moves in next door. UBC has been shopping for a place for this hospice for years and it has done it’s best to balance different stakeholder’s concerns. I hope it gets built without anymore delays.

Photo courtesy of fauxto_digit on Flickr.

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UBC right to move forward with campus hospice

  1. As a “Chinese” (but I find this bit of personal information rather irrelevant) student at UBC, I applaud this article for pointing out the irrelevance of the fear of “bad luck”.

    We as citizens of Canada have a responsibility to take care of other human beings in need. When I heard that the UBC residents were fearful of property prices and bad voodoo, I was horrified to hear that they were Chinese. I knew this would simply bring out and strengthen the stereotypes that surround our culture.

    I would like to mention and emphasize that the majority of the Chinese culture in Vancouver do not hold the same beliefs as these habitants. Furthermore, I hope these property owners hold their heads down in SHAME for creating this shameful situation in the first place.

    Build the hospice, and ignore these stereotypical and selfish opinions. The area of UBC is a place open to all, and should remain unhindered that way no matter the differences in religious beliefs, personal values, and selfish perspectives.

  2. Pingback: UBC right to move forward with campus hospice – Macleans.ca « Ultimate Care Hospice, Los Angeles, CA

  3. It is easier to say than to do. If you do not want to be treated the way you treat other people, there is a problem in the way you treat other people. If you would like to swao place and try to figure out how people in Promontary feel, you would not write so harsh word. Property values did increase 130% near hospices over the years, but other areas increased 200% or even more. It is not fair to quote the data this way.

  4. Joy: so it really has nothing to do with cultural superstition. Just more NIMBYism from thenormal breed of Vancouver condo-owners with an overblown sense of entitlement to bubble-sized gains in their property values. Glad to have that clarified.

  5. What is the price of dying with dignity? PRICELESS
    This is our way in Canada. We need to stand up for our Canadian values Don’t like it. its a very big world out there.

  6. Considering the UBC campus has hosted an actual hospital for decades – and the desirability of helping the terminally ill remain at home for palliative and end-of-life care – I’d say these NIMBYist residents are not only well behind the curve, but rather ignorant of their own mortality. Kudos for UBC for pressing forward.

  7. The decision on the location of the UBC Hospice should base on the best interest of the residents of the hospice. They are the ones who need a quiet environment, with good transportation facilities for their families to visit.
    No self-respecting post-education institution should ever succumb to selfishness of individuals. Instead, selfish individuals need to be educated and enlightened.
    To provide them with a new way of looking at the UBC Hospice – what about offering them hospice residents and their families’ point of view.(Many may look and sound just like the opponents to the hospice plan)
    Let’s set the priority straight here – it is about love and caring for fellow Canadians , not hate and me, me, me!

  8. Multicultural values and beliefs, especially superstitious ones about non-existent entities, and about death, do not trump the universal need for dignity for people in their last days of life.

  9. What about the very real opposition from students at UBC, who have been opposed to the hospice from day 1? Students’ opposition to the hospice when it was originally proposed on Marine Drive was misconstrued as opposing the location, not its existence entirely. Then there is the question of scarcity – why are we giving prime real-estate to a mere 15 beds? When the Promontory Tower was built, outdoor concerts and festivals at the adjacent Thunderbird Stadium ceased to exist. Now they plan to build an end of life, palliative care facility even closer to the Stadium – genius. This is yet another example of the War on Fun being waged at UBC, and Home Coming and tailgate parties are the latest casualties. Although it is kind of fitting that a hospice will deal the death blow to student life on campus.