WATCH: Coquitlam city council unveils a new plan for the Riverview lands. Aaron McArthur reports.
VANCOUVER – The city of Coquitlam wants to turn the buildings of the former Riverview Hospital and its lands into a ‘Coquitlam Health Campus.’
It has been largely vacant for decades with parts of it falling down. Riverview’s major hospital closed a few years ago. The oldest building was closed in 1983 and has not been maintained since then.
There has been a lot of discussion about what to do with the 250-acre site, and now Coquitlam council has unveiled a plan to keep Riverview as a place of caring and healing.
Anchored by an acute care hospital and a psychiatric hospital, The Coquitlam Health Campus would consist of integrated clinical care, long-term residential and rehabilitation programs and services, education and training facilities, a health and wellness business park and public uses.
“The need for mental health and health care programs, services and facilities in British Columbia has never being greater,” said Dr. John Higenbottam. “Utilizing the Riverview Lands for program and service delivery is the key to addressing the needs of people with serious mental illnesses in the Lower Mainland and throughout the province.”
Higenbottam was asked in December 2013 to translate the city’s vision for the Riverview Lands into required programs, services and associated facilities based on a modern health care framework and the health needs of all British Columbians. He also worked at Riverview for 12 years.
“Mental illness is a significant issue in every B.C. community; the mental health care crisis is a significant local, regional and provincial issue,” said Mayor Richard Stewart. “A commitment from all levels of government and across all service delivery agencies is required to adequately address it. We believe that a site the size of Riverview, along with a supportive surrounding community, can be the starting point of a solution.”
He said that Coquitlam is a city that needs to have its own hospital and acute care facility.
Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth said the focus has got to be on the delivery of mental health services.
“That’s a unique opportunity,” he said. “And the ability for the Riverview lands to deliver that.”
To view Higenbottam’s report, The Coquitlam Health Campus, or the 2005 Riverview Task Force Report, For the Future of Riverview, visit www.coquitlam.ca/riverview.
WATCH: It’s been the subject of great debate for many years — what to do about the former Riverview lands in Coquitlam?