The B.C. government has outlined plans for the future of the Riverview grounds.
The new vision focuses on five key themes, including involving mental health and fighting drug addiction, building a complete community, housing and economic development.
Three mental health and substance abuse programs will be relocated to new facilities to be built on the lands: the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre, the Provincial Assessment Centre, and Burnaby’s mental health and addiction centre, which has been sold off.
Housing minister Rich Coleman says two state of the art buildings will be constructed to house the new services.
“They will start construction within the next 18 months or so. They are in design now. The total budget for both facilities is about $175 million and there will also be some supportive housing that will come along with that as well.”
Health Minister Terry Lake says the facilities will bring 17 net new beds.
“The centre we’re using at the moment is a re-purposed facility. It’s not purpose-built. So this will be a much better facility for people with mental health and substance use challenges — (the) complex care that they need.”
That’s far fewer than the 300 beds critics have claimed are needed.
The province says the redevelopment will also include, at some point, market housing.
READ MORE: Would you call Riverview home?
“The challenges with the system are something we deal with everyday.”
The mayor of Coquitlam is welcoming the addition of new mental health and addiction resources on the Riverview lands.
Richard Stewart, who went public with his daughter’s mental health challenges, says it is time for society to come to grips with the need.
“We need to really focus attention on the investments society makes in mental health. That has been something for decades that we have, perhaps, headed in a different direction. We now realize some of those directions were not appropriate. We made mistakes.”
Stewart says we need many more mental health and addictions facilities.
He says he was not given the full plans until just before today’s press conference.
Road to renewal
The Riverview site has served as a provincial facility for mental health services since 1904, but was was shuttered by the province three years ago, after years of downsizing.
That closure has been hotly criticized, both by municipalities and the provincial NDP, who say the region is badly undeserved in the area of mental health.
Since then, the Kwikwitlem First Nation has expressed an interest in the land, and private developers have also pitched a plan to build market housing on the property.
Last December, the province announced a rehab and recovery program for the grounds, with 40 beds, 14 of them new.