Every city has its strengths and these qualities play a significant role in shaping the economic landscape of a community. Here in New Westminster one of our biggest strengths is in the area of health care due in no small part to Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH), a major regional facility serving not only patients from our community, but from across British Columbia. Even though we think of RCH as “our” community hospital, the reality is much more than that.
Here are some quick facts:
- RCH is a clinical academic campus of the UBC Faculty of Medicine.
- RCH is one of the busiest emergency departments in the province with on average 66,000 emergency visits per year.
- RCH is home to the busiest cardiac intervention unit in BC. The hospital performs 5,500 heart catheterizations and 900 open heart surgeries annually.
- RCH is has one of BC’s largest neonatal intensive care units for premature and critically ill babies.
While the numbers above are significant, so is the impact that RCH has on our local economy. The hospital currently employs 3813 full time employees, but its economic impact extends well beyond the RCH campus. With health care and other social services adjacent to the hospital, nearly 25% of the jobs in New West are related to health care. In fact, RCH’s economic impact in our community amounts to nearly $66 million per year.
Given the important impact that RCH has on our local economy, the City of New Westminster is now focusing our economic development strategies on health care. Although health care already plays an important role in our local economy we strongly believe that there are tremendous opportunities to take greater economic advantage of our status as home to one of the provinces largest regional hospitals. These opportunities will expand even further as RCH goes through a period of major redevelopment over the next 10 years. And leveraging these opportunities is consistent with our overall economic vision which will ultimately see a diversification of our employment base towards the knowledge- based economy.
Last January, the Mayors Task Force on the Economic Health Care Cluster was established to develop a strategy and roadmap to help guide efforts to leverage provincial investment in RCH expansion activities and amplify the local economic benefits generated by Royal Columbian Hospital. In December, the task force presented a “roadmap” to city council which outlines actions that the City, our stakeholders and partners can take to build a robust health care cluster right here in New West. The road map focuses on key areas, two of which include:
- Economic Development – Essentially, this is about creating the environment necessary to attract and retain health-related businesses that may gain a strategic advantage from locating adjacent to a major regional hospital. From doctors’ offices to businesses focused on health care research & innovation we need to create the right conditions for these businesses to thrive and grow. A large part of our efforts will involve ensuring the health care industry is aware of the opportunities that exist in our city.
- Neighbourhood Amenities – For the Economic Health Care Cluster to prosper, we must ensure that the neighbourhood surrounding RCH has the amenities required to attract health related businesses and their employees. Some of the amenities we need plan for include professional office space, child care facilities, attractive public spaces and affordable housing with a range of housing choices.
With provincial investment in RCH expansion underway, the City of New Westminster is taking action through our Economic Health Care Cluster efforts to ensure these activities benefit patients, our local economy and, ultimately, New Westminster’s livability overall.
For more information on New Westminster Economic Health Care Cluster: