New building announced for Riverview lands in Coquitlam is yet unnamed. (Contributed)

Maple Ridge hopes new Riverview building just a start

105-bed building announced in 2015

Maple Ridge Coun. Bob Masse hopes the New Democratic government hears the messages of public approval for addressing mental health, and hopes the province does more of it.

“I really hope they take it to heart,” Masse said, adding he hopes further announcements about mental health are coming.

Last week, NDP Premier John Horgan fulfilled a two-year-old Liberal promise to build a new $101-million mental health and addiction centre at the Riverview Hospital grounds in Coquitlam.

The Liberals made that announcement in December 2015, that two new mental health buildings were being built on the grounds.

Friday, Horgan announced a new 105-bed centre, yet unnamed, that will offer residential treatment to adults with severe mental health and addictions challenges, with the goal of stabilizing their illnesses so they can move forward to rehabilitation and recovery.

“I’m glad they’re going to build it. The need has grown hugely in the last two years even,” Masse said.

He previously joined the efforts to turn the Riverview grounds in a centre of excellence for mental health.

He got involved in 2013 after seeing the numbers of homeless and mentally ill in Maple Ridge’s downtown.

He also saw the fallout of the NDP government’s decision in the 1990s to discharge patients from Riverview Hospital, with the immediate effect of people wandering the streets.

He led council in calling for Riverview to become a centre of excellence for mental health. The Union of B.C. Municipalities adopted Maple Ridge’s resolution in 2013.

Masse noted that even five years ago, B.C. was 500 beds short of the Canadian provincial average number of psychiatric beds per capita.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read agreed with Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, that Friday’s announcement was basically a re-announcement or sod turning of a previously approved project.

“I’m hopful that there’s going to be a larger announcment coming because there’s a very significant need in this province and certainly the Lower Mainland for mental health and addictions services for people,” Read said.

When the province closed Riverview, it never provided the support in the community, she added.

“So I’m hoping we’re going to see more from the NDP on other announcements.”

The new building announced Friday will be finished by 2019 and replace the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

The LEED-gold standard building will feature therapeutic design elements to support recovery, such as healing spaces, natural light, Indigenous artwork and views of the Riverview lands.

“Patients will receive care in a safe, secure and inviting environment, designed to offer the right supports at a time when their illness is most acute,” said a government release.

Another new $75-million building is already underway at Riverview. When completed in 2018, it will house the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre for Youth, as well as Community Living B.C.’s Provincial Assessment Centre.

“Our government has made it a priority to ensure that the Riverview lands continue to be a place of healing,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“There is an opportunity for the Riverview site to become a hub for patients, families, health-care workers, researchers and the local community to come together to address mental-health and substance-use challenges.”

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