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Open houses on R'view future start soon
Tri-City residents, businesses and groups will have their first chance to give their views on the future of the Riverview Hospital lands next in February or March.
And the results of the year-long visioning process will be a blueprint for the redevelopment of the 244 acres in Coquitlam, officials told a city committee this week.
On Tuesday, at Coquitlam's Riverview Lands Advisory Committee, BC Housing and other representatives talked about how the process will play out with open houses:
• February or March: introduce the visioning process and give an overview of BC Housing's role in the management of the property;
• May or June: create goals for the land;
• September: present ideas for a vision;
• December: reveal the visioning document.
Before the first open house, BC Housing will have a dedicated website for the Riverview visioning that will include past studies plus opportunities to provide feedback, the agency said.
As well, it has promised to compile previous reports on Riverview building heritage values and environmental aspects, copies of which will be made available at Coquitlam city hall and Coquitlam Public Library.
Committee members praised BC Housing for taking a full year to complete the project but also suggested different formats for a better reach.
Consultant Gary Pooni said he expects many people at the first open house, for which the date and location have yet to be confirmed.
Last year, the provincial government charged BC Housing with the future development of Riverview, a 102-year-old former mental health institution off Lougheed Highway.
Michael Flanigan, vice-president of development services and asset strategies at BC Housing, said his agency's aim is to be as inclusive as possible with its vision, tapping in to views from provincial health authorities, neighbouring cities, environmental groups, Kwikwetlem First Nation, Metro Vancouver, the Tri-Cities' Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-Cities' Housing and Homelessness Task Force, among others.
Coquitlam Coun. Craig Hodge, who chairs the Riverview Lands Advisory Committee, said the public needs to have certainty about the lands and "the good news is, at the end of this, there's going to be a vision. Not everybody is going to agree with it but at least we're going to have something that we can have in our hands."
Both city council and the chamber of commerce want to see Riverview returned as a mental health and wellness hub but both are also open to economic development happening on the site.
BC Housing has said it needs to make the redevelopment and possible repurposing of the heritage buildings worth the investment and has called for any work to "break even." Last year, Flanigan suggested the film industry or retail businesses may be economic drivers.
Meanwhile, a Riverview building deemed to have no heritage value will be torn down this spring, the committee heard on Tuesday.
Jim Thompson of Shared Services BC, which is currently transferring the Riverview file to BC Housing, said the transportation services building — a late 1950s or ’60s, one-storey wood frame structure — needs to come down because of hazardous materials leaking underground. The provincial government doesn't want the contaminated soils to spread further, he said, and consultants are now assessing the site.
Committee members asked to see if any building materials could be salvaged during the process and to be aware of possible buried artifacts as the area used to be a stable.