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Maple Ridge Council wants Riverview Hospital re-opened

PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS1130) – For more than a year, one of the most controversial and iconic landmarks in the province has been closed in Port Coquitlam.

Now, some politicians say it’s time to re-open Riverview Hospital.

“The reality is we have a number of folks that are homeless or at risk of homelessness and there is not one clear reason for that,” Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin tells News1130.

“We’ve been on this path for awhile, so how do you address some of these social issues and help these folks that are on our streets?”

The province started to change its approach to mental health treatment in the mid-1960s. Instead of keeping patients in a single, centralized institution such as Riverview, it moved toward a more regionalized system so patients could receive care and treatment closer to home.

The new approach was ramped up in the late 1980s and by the early 2000s, plans were in the works to close the facility for good. The final patients were transferred out of Riverview last year; the facility closed its doors for the last time in July, 2012.

The final patients were transferred out of Riverview last year after the province changed its approach to mental health treatment.

“The thought of the day was these folks can get out into the community, rather than institutionalize them,” says Daykin.

“Some were successful and others weren’t. Because there wasn’t support, some of them fell through the cracks, so we feel maybe it’s time for the province to look at this.”

Maple Ridge Council is calling for the BC government to reinstate Riverview as a “modern centre of excellence for mental health care and support.”

The issue will be discussed at the Union of BC Municipalities Convention next month.

Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson with the NDP likes the proposal. “The initial intention when Riverview closed was to have good community-based services, but those services didn’t materialize,” she says.

“We also know that there is some role for some level of institutional care and certainly a ‘centre of excellence’ is a good way of describing a facility that will be grounded in excellence. This is a perfect site for that.”

Riverview turned 100 years old in May.