Riverview Hospital site to see new centre for adults with mental health and addiction challenges

Click to play video: 'Government announces revitalization of Riverview Hospital site to treat mental health and addictions' Government announces revitalization of Riverview Hospital site to treat mental health and addictions
Premier John Horgan committed $101 million to a 105-bed mental health centre at the Riverview Hospital site in Coquitlam. Jill Bennett has more on when the doors will be open, and whether it’s enough to tackle the opioid crisis – Nov 17, 2017

A centre for adults with severe mental health and addictions challenges is set to be built on the grounds of Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam.

The announcement, being made by B.C. Premier John Horgan Friday morning, states the centre will have 105 beds at a cost of $101 million.

LISTEN: Global BC reporter Jill Bennett joins CKNW’s Simi Sara to discuss the new facility

It is slated to open in late 2019.

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The facility will replace the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

However, the BC Liberal government made a similar announcement back in 2015 about a facility built at Riverview that would replace the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

“We’ve been in government now for 16, 17 weeks, we’re following through on our commitment to make sure that mental health and addictions are a high priority,” Horgan said.

“That’s why I appointed Judy Darcy to be the first minister of mental health and addictions in British Columbia, and indeed in Canada, and this is the first step to a long road of providing the services that people deserve here and expect in British Columbia.”

“The previous government started this ball rolling and we’re going to keep it rolling and deliver the services that people deserve and respect,” Horgan added.

He said the government wants to have a “coordinated and focused approach” to treating mental health in British Columbia.

He is not ruling out more facilities being built on the Riverview grounds.

READ MORE: Funeral visit prompts plea from Coquitlam mayor to revive Riverview Hospital

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Horgan said the provincial government decided to proceed with the plans that were announced two years ago, and that deviating from that plan would result in more delays .

“Rather than delay it by scaling it up, we’re going to build this and then we’re going to build more. Here and elsewhere in British Columbia,” he said.

But many say much more needs to be done.

With the opioid crisis killing so many people, especially with fentanyl in the mix, Coqtuitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said he wants the government to look at other buildings on the property as well.

“[The] north lawn for example, which was Wayward Pines hospital in the television series, it’s a fully renovated hospital, it’s ready to serve that role, it’s a shame when we desperately need treatment, to see those buildings not being used,” he said.

“You know, a good plan today would be much better than an excellent plan in a couple of years because we’re losing people so quickly.”

It’s not the first time Stewart has spoken out in the facility. He’s previously posted two videos about the hospital, which he wants to see scaled up into a central hub for mental health and addictions services.

Riverview Hospital has served as a provincial facility for mental health services since 1904, but it was shuttered by the province in 2012 after years of downsizing.

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The province began a “visioning process” for the lands in 2013, under the banner “Renewing Riverview.”

Since then, the Kwikwetlem First Nation has expressed an interest in the land, and private developers have also pitched a plan to build market housing on the property.

-With files from Simon Little and Michelle Morton, CKNW

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