Fear of ghosts spawns protest against UBC hospice
Asian condo owners at the University of B.C. are protesting plans to build a hospice nearby, saying they're afraid of plummeting property values -- and ghosts.
Janet Fan, who owns a unit in a high rise on campus, has started a petition against plans for a 15-bed hospice in the empty lot next door.
"Eighty per cent of the residents in this building are Asian, and 100 per cent of them are very upset," she told CTV News.
Condo owners learned about the plans at an open house.
"We went to the open house and we found out it's just in our backyard," she said.
Tan says the smallest units in the building sell for $1 million, and the wealthy residents are wary of having the dying so close to home.
"We believe that if the living and the dying are too close to each other, it will bring very bad fortune, as well as it will be harmful to the children. It's just something we were taught when we were little kids," she said.
"Our parents would say things like that ghosts are associated with death and we were just very afraid of the whole death thing."
The site was selected for the hospice after a four-year review of 12 possible locations. It will be operated by the Order of St. John, with facilities for UBC researchers.
A final decision on the hospice was expected in February, but has now been delayed because of opposition to the project, according to Joe Stott, director of planning for the university.
"We need to make sure that we collect all this information and go through it in a systematic way," he said.
Tung Chan, former CEO of the Chinese-Canadian charity SUCCESS, says the situation is a classic case of Not In My Backyard.
"I think their fear is genuine," he said. "However, what I do see is no different from any classic NIMBYism, where people don't what to see things happen in their backyard, and cultural effect is just one of the things they trot out to explain that."
But other groups advocate for more education at a time when Canada's population is aging and the need for palliative care centres is growing.
"They are important because there are many people who for various reasons can't end their life at home either because they need more medical care or nursing care," said Jane Webley, manager for palliative and hospice care at Lions Gate Hospital.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Sarah Galashan