Canossa Hospital under fire for plan to concrete over entrance

The Canossa Hospital (Caritas) in Mid-Levels is under pressure to halt slope maintenance work at its entrance that would replace natural vegetation with spray-on concrete.

The resurfacing work affects an area of about 10 metres by 30 metres at the hospital entrance at 1 Old Peak Road.

Numerous trees have already been removed in preparation for the concreting project.

Opponents of the plan questioned why the 80-year-old hospital refused to invest in preserving the green area yet will spend HK$127 million on a separate extension project.

Melanie Moore, who opposes the slope work and regularly passes the hospital, said she called the hospital matron, Sister Catherine Wu, yesterday to express community concern over the project.

'Sister Wu says it is a private slope and claims they have all government approval. She also says it is too expensive to maintain the slope in its natural condition,' said Moore.


She had spoken to the Lands Department about alternatives to concreting the area and suggested the hospital consider an erosion-control mat, as used in some public projects, to avoid having to remove the greenery.

Other residents in the area and opponents to the slope resurfacing have signed up to an e-mail and fax campaign, asking the hospital to stop the work immediately.

Among the opponents is a mother who gave birth to three children at the hospital.

Sister Wu would not respond to a query about whether cost is the primary motive for concreting the slope but urged opponents to try to understand the hospital's concerns.


'Rocks and soil slide down sometimes and block the drains. We did try to grow some grass on the slope, but the trees blocked the sunshine. There's also a mosquito problem,' she said.

'A concrete slope will make our lives easier.'


The hospital claims, on its website, to be the only one in the city that is surrounded by '360-degree greenery', with 54 species of flora planted on the grounds.

Tam Tit-chuen, assistant project manager of the hospital, yesterday said part of the slope had already been concreted for some time, but cracks had developed and there was a risk of soil erosion and landslides.

Tam said the hospital had hired a consultant, who advised that spray-on concrete would be the best approach for dealing with safety and maintenance issues. He said many smaller trees on the slope had been preserved at the request of the community and that three trees had been removed from the construction site and transplanted to the entrance.