Having their name associated with Penticton Regional Hospital, linking both health and education, was an opportunity that definitely captured George and Sylvia Melville’s attention.
Following the Melvilles’ incredibly generous $1.5 million donation to the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Medical Foundation’s PRH campaign in 2015, the provincial government has agreed to link their name with the UBC Faculty of Medicine facilities in the hospital’s new patient care tower.
The Melville UBC Medical Education Centre, to be located on the third floor of the six-storey tower, will include the Melville Library and Melville Conference Room.
Dr. Allan Jones, Regional Associate Dean – Interior for UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, said the new education space will provide an enhanced learning environment for UBC medical students and resident physicians training at Penticton Regional Hospital and nearby communities. It will also provide an excellent teaching environment for the UBC clinical faculty.
“We are truly grateful for George and Sylvia Melville’s commitment to supporting UBC medical education in the South Okanagan,” Jones said.
George, co-founder of the Boston Pizza restaurant chain, and Sylvia are both Penticton Secondary School graduates. Although they moved to the Vancouver area in the mid-1970s, they still return to the Okanagan every summer.
“I think we’re very excited about the merging of education and the delivery of medical care in the community,” George said. “This is our hometown. We both moved around a lot when we were young, but Penticton is where we settled and began to raise our family before we had to move to Vancouver to manage the business better.”
“To give back to this community was really important — and this one really resonated with us with the combination of education and deliverance of medical care. It fit perfectly with what we wanted to give to,” he added.
Sylvia said they genuinely feel it’s an honour to help.
“The idea that we would be able to attract medical students and residents and have them see the value of what they can do for the community and their families – to grow a career and a family here – I think is amazing.”
George’s father worked for the Bank of Montreal and the family moved to Penticton from Prince Rupert when George was entering Grade 12. He and Sylvia met while he was articling with a Penticton accounting firm.
Sylvia went on to obtain her education degree from UBC and returned as a teacher at Carmi Elementary School. George continued with his accounting career in Penticton before teaming together with business partner Jim Treliving to launch the internationally successful Boston Pizza chain in the 1970s.
Both their children were born at PRH.
“If it hadn’t been for George needing to be in Vancouver to further his career and his business, I think we would have stayed to raise our children. It’s perfect,” Sylvia said.
The Melvilles attended the hospital ground-breaking ceremony in July 2016 and Sylvia said to now see how far construction of the tower has progressed is very exciting.
The SOS Medical Foundation is raising $20-million to provide the medical equipment for the $312-million PRH expansion. The new tower is due to open in April 2019.