There is every intention to continue St. Paul’s Hospital’s most publicly engaging initiative at its future campus in the False Creek Flats.

The existing Lights of Hope display — temporarily installed each year throughout the holiday season as a key component of a fundraising initiative — is wedged into the historical main entrance area on the Burrard Street side of the West End hospital site. The installation has become a highly popular annual tradition over the course of its 23 year history to date, starting in 1998.

Details in the newly submitted development permit application for the new hospital show the existing display concept could be placed on the public plaza planned immediately adjacent to the Clinical Support and Research Centre building, which is a future phase of the hospital campus. This large public plaza is just across the street from the main entrance into the hospital building.

Event-friendly plaza design for Lights of Hope and other programming at the new St. Paul’s Hospital campus. (Providence Healthcare)

st paul's hospital false creek flats lights of hope

Artistic rendering depicting an event-friendly plaza design for Lights of Hope and other programming at the new St. Paul’s Hospital campus. (Providence Healthcare)

The application states the public plaza will be an adaptable, flexible space for staging activations and programming, such as Lights of Hope, fundraisers, food trucks, and markets.

Several wooden First Nations “house posts” demarcate the space, and the layout of the open space and landscaping highlights the sight lines into the hospital’s main entrance and chapel.

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Artistic rendering of the new St. Paul’s Hospital campus and the public plaza. (Providence Healthcare)

st. paul's hospital

Artistic rendering of the new St. Paul’s Hospital campus and the public plaza. (Providence Healthcare)

However, according to Broek Bosma, the Chief Development Officer of St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, the existing Lights of Hope display design of 100,000 bright lights and dozens of glowing stars wrapped around a wall of scaffolding will not necessarily be completely replicated at the new campus. This concept was designed for the unique spatial limitations of the existing hospital.

“There will absolutely and positively be Lights of Hope on the new campus, and we’re really excited about that. We also have an opportunity to reimagine Lights of Hope in a lot of different ways,” Bosma told Daily Hive Urbanized in an interview.

He suggested possible ideas such as illuminating all of the trees in the area, and adding a digital display, which was introduced last year as a component.

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Lights of Hope fireworks celebration. (St. Paul’s Foundation)

The bright display of the Lights of Hope at St. Paul’s Hospital. (St. Paul’s Hospital)

Volunteers are the driving force of the display. Each year, the installation is set up by about 150 volunteers over the span of a number of weeks leading up to the lighting in late November. The display remains in place until the first week of January.

“For the new St. Paul’s, it’s really exciting to find out what roles volunteers will be able to play,” added Bosma.

“We’re going to have our volunteers, our committees, our donors, and our hospital partners at Providence Healthcare reimagine how volunteers play a role here and continue to be a part of it.”

St. Paul’s Lights of Hope (Spencer Finlay / Flickr)

The bright display of the Lights of Hope at St. Paul’s Hospital. (Sam Zhao/Flickr)

At the Burrard Street location, Lights of Hope traditionally kicks off each year with a public launch event, celebrating the display’s lighting with fireworks.

Last year, the launch event was replaced with a virtual event, and despite the economic conditions, the 2020 initiative raised an all-time record total of $3.5 million — a clear show of support for frontline healthcare workers.

The foundation also introduced the “Hope at Home” initiative amidst the pandemic, providing the public with the opportunity to purchase a paper star lantern that could be hanged on their window as part of a festive holiday display. The program will be expanded for this year’s Lights of Hope.

So far, throughout Lights of Hope’s entire history, a total of $43.5 million has been raised to fund St. Paul’s Hospital’s equipment, research, community programs, teaching initiatives, and other essential services that would otherwise not be funded through traditional sources.

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Artistic rendering of the new St. Paul’s Hospital campus and the public plaza. (Providence Healthcare)

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2021 rendering showing the final design of the new St. Paul’s Hospital. (Providence Health Care)

Construction officially commenced on the new $2.2-billion main hospital building earlier this month, and it is currently slated to reach completion in 2027.

This new modern facility is significantly larger than the existing Burrard Street facility, which will close after all of its programs and services are relocated to the new campus. The existing hospital has been sold to Concord Pacific for about $1 billion for its redevelopment potential.

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