Hollyburn Properties and South Asian philanthropist Stephen Sander make $2 million donation towards new medical equipment

Dr. Peter Black, Senior Research Scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre, and Associate Professor, Department of Urologic Services, University of British Columbia, with Stephen Sander (centre), Founder, Hollyburn Properties, and his wife Nancy Sander.

“HOLLYBURN Properties is very proud to support residents and families across Vancouver with a $2 million donation towards new medical equipment, which will help provide care to people across all sectors of medicine and have an impact for many people no matter what their illness,” said Stephen Sander, founder of Hollyburn Properties as well as a patient at VGH and UBC Hospital, on Wednesday.

He added: “We’re focused on the provision of essential services, and healthcare like housing is important in supporting a vibrant and thriving community. This donation is a way for us to give back to the community that has supported us for over 40 years.”

(In October 2015, Hollyburn Properties had donated $1 million to Lions Gate Hospital Foundation to bring new state-of-the-art MRI technology to the Radiology Department at Lions Gate Hospital.)

Patients at UBC Hospital will soon benefit from the latest generation in MRI technology. Thanks to a $1 million donation from Hollyburn Properties, the current MRI machine will be upgraded to a GE Signa Explorer. Work is currently underway and the upgraded MRI machine is expected to be fully operational in the next few months.

The state-of-the-art MRI machine features advanced software, allowing for faster, more accurate diagnostic scans. As well, the noise level in some scans is reduced by 97.5%. This has been shown to lessen anxiety in claustrophobic patients and patients with dementia.

“We are extremely grateful to Hollyburn Properties and the leadership of Stephen Sander and the Sanders’ family for this extraordinary $1 million gift,” said Barbara Grantham, President and CEO of the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation. “This much needed MRI at UBC Hospital will serve our community for years to come.”

“This new MRI technology will support more patients through the continuum of care by providing faster and more efficient technology,” said Dr. John Mayo, Head and Medical Director, Department of Medical Imaging, Vancouver Acute, VCH. “It will allow us to see more patients and better understand their conditions through enhanced imaging.”

UBC Hospital sees more than seven thousand patients per year for magnetic resonance imaging, a safe and painless test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the body’s organs and structures. UBC Hospital is a major neuroscience and sports-medicine referral centre, and many patients require imaging for multiple sclerosis and musculoskeletal injuries.


IT’S a new era for robot-assisted surgery at VGH.

After 10 years, Jack the Robot is preparing to retire. A member of the da Vinci Surgical System, Jack has assisted his masters in more than one thousand surgical procedures at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). While he has served the community well, Jack is becoming obsolete and the time has come for a more advanced robot to take his place.

Vancouver Coastal Health plans to purchase a new robot-assisted surgical system thanks to a $1 million donation from Hollyburn Properties and the Sander family. This updated version of the da Vinci system includes a teaching console—similar to a driving instructor having a second wheel—to help surgeons become more skilled in the use of the technology. The system is comprised of a controller, console, 3D camera with 10X magnification, and a bedside cart with four robotical arms. One arm positions the camera while the others hold surgical instruments that are controlled by the hand and foot movements of the surgeon positioned at the console.

“By replacing Jack with cutting-edge surgical robotic technology, which includes a console for a second surgeon, VCH is positioned to further develop the areas where robotic technology provides value,” said Dr. Marcel Dvorak, Associate Medical Director, VCH. “Surgeons are carefully selecting those patients who are likely to benefit from robot-assisted surgical procedures while continuing to provide other leading surgical technologies.”

Robotic technology is used in a variety of surgeries including radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland and surrounding tissue), cardiovascular bypass surgery (to remove a blocked artery in the heart), and hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and in some cases, the ovaries and fallopian tubes).

“With this minimally invasive surgery, patients are often able to return to their normal activities quicker than if they’ve had open surgery,” said Dr. Peter Black, Senior Research Scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre. “Patients experience less pain and require less pain medication, and are generally able to recover faster.”

“This generous donation from Hollyburn Properties and Stephen Sander makes possible the purchase of technologically-advanced equipment that will improve patient care,” said Barbara Grantham. “Investing in health care innovation benefits all British Columbians.”

VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.3 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.


STEPHEN Sander (nee Sukhwant Singh), 82, was born in 1934 in Gujranwala (in that part of Punjab which is now in Pakistan) in a Sikh farming family. During the partition of India in 1947, Stephen’s family was separated. He lived on the streets of New Delhi for several years, pursuing a university degree in education.

He then lived in England until the 1960s, when he moved to the east coast of Canada, to the town of Bridgewater in Nova Scotia.

Sander was a teacher for 15 years, which enabled him to travel from one small town to another across Canada and the United States.

He began purchasing single family homes in Vancouver in the 1970s. He formed Hollyburn Properties Limited in 1972 at the foot of Hollyburn Mountain in West Vancouver, and shortly thereafter purchased Hollyburn Plaza, the company’s first multi-family residential apartment building.

Hollyburn Properties now owns and operates 86 first-class, high-rise, rental buildings across Canada: in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa. The company employs around 200 people from all religious persuasions.

Sander lives in Vancouver and has a very large and happy family. He contemplates working with hospitals across Canada in the future.