VANCOUVER – The Kwikwetlem First Nation has sent a letter to the provincial government, the City of Coquitlam and citizen’s groups saying they claim aboriginal title interests to all lands associated with Riverview Hospital.
This comes after a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision recognizing aboriginal land title.
The Kwikwetlem First Nation says evidence of their occupation of the area where Riverview was built reaches back nearly 9,000 years and they have thousands of traditions tied to the lands.
“In particular, Elders’ stories tell of the Kwikwetlem intensively using and occupying the lands surrounding what is now referred to as the Coquitlam River, including the Riverview Lands,” they say in the letter.
The Nation expects to become an owner of the lands and lead the future development there.
In mid-June, Coquitlam council unveiled their plans for Riverview, which has been largely vacant for decades.
They want to turn the buildings and its lands into a ‘Coquitlam Health Campus.’
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 Kwikwetlem First Nation says they want to see the land developed towards a goal of maximizing the benefits to the Nation as a land owner.
“In response to the myriad of recommendations for the future development of the Riverview Lands, the Kwikwetlem First Nation will contemplate any use that makes economic sense,” they say in the letter.