Mental health and addiction services at the Riverview Hospital lands will be reborn with the provincial government’s decision to proceed with the opening of a new state-of-the-art mental health and addictions facility at the site.
Earlier today, construction officially began on a $101-million facility on the north end of the lands as part of a new health campus. The facility will have 105 beds and offer specialized residential treatment to adults with the most severe and complex mental health and addiction challenges.
“People afflicted by mental illness and addiction need better support and care. We’re getting to work to fix the problems and give people the help they need,” said BC NDP Premier John Horgan. “Today’s ground breaking is an important step toward improving mental health and addictions treatment services in British Columbia.”
The long-term goal of the treatment offered by the new facility is to stabilize the illnesses of patients and move them towards rehabilitation and recovery.
There will be individual rooms and therapeutic design elements to support recovery, including healing spaces, ample windows for natural light, artwork, and views of the Riverview Hospital lands greenery.
Patient care will be delivered in a “safe, secure, and inviting” environment, and the building will be designed to a LEED Gold environmental standard.
The new facility, slated to open in late-2019, replaces the current Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction and increases the capacity by a net gain of 11 beds.
“I have had the opportunity to participate in some of the planning meetings associated with this new facility. I’ve seen first-hand how much effort, experience and compassion is going into each stage of its development,” said Lisa Kofod, Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction family representative.
“This new centre is symbolic of the will to shatter stigma and it brings new hope that we can do a lot to improve places and programs that help house and heal those we love.”
Another building that will be part of the new Riverview Hospital health campus is the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre and Community Living British Columbia’s Provincial Assessment Centre, which are both already under construction. These facilities are currently located at the Willingdon Lands in Burnaby and will be relocated to the new buildings upon completion.
All buildings in the health campus are projected to have a combined cost of about $175 million.
Plans for the reopening of Riverview Hospital were first announced by the former BC Liberal government in 2015. All phases of the new health campus are funded by the future redevelopment of some areas of the 244-acre property, with residential and commercial developments slated for the southern half of the lands.
The resulting new neighbourhood will be a mix of market and non-market housing as well as retail shops, cafes, and restaurants.
At its peak, Riverview Hospital had more than 4,000 patients across a number of buildings, before the facilities were gradually closed beginning in the 1980s in favour of community care and transitional procedures.
But many of these replacement initiatives were not fulfilled, which greatly contributed to the growth of homelessness and addiction issues concentrated within the Downtown Eastside.
The nearby high-security Forensic Psychiatric Hospital was renovated earlier in the decade. It has 190 beds for patients who have come in conflict with the law and are unable to stand trial or not criminally responsible due to their mental illness.
Other mental health and addiction treatment facilities opening in Metro Vancouver before the end of the decade include the $259-million, 75-bed mental health and substance-use facility at the redevelopment of Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westmisnter, $57-million Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre to amalgamate mental health services found at the Vancouver General Hospital campus, and the $38-million Hope Centre for Psychiatry and Education in North Vancouver.
Every year, the provincial government spends approximately $1.4 billion on mental health and addiction treatment services.
Editor’s note: The high-security Forensic Psychiatric Hospital is located near the Riverdale Hospital lands. This article has been edited to reflect that.