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Concerns with R'view open houses
The provincial agency that pledged to be transparent during the Riverview Hospital visioning study is getting bad marks for last week's open houses.
On Wednesday, members of the city of Coquitlam's Riverview Lands Advisory Committee — made up of former Riverview staff, environmentalists and stewards of the 244-acre property — didn't hold back their comments about BC Housing's meetings at the Burquest Jewish and Poirier community centres.
And they gave more than a dozen recommendations on how to make future outreach better. Among the recommendations, which council will consider later this month, are for BC Housing to:
• give more advance public notice for the open houses (just over a week was given for the first two meetings);
• provide more parking at the venues;
• hold extra open houses at Riverview, in Port Coquitlam and at SFU Harbour Centre in Vancouver;
• and show the online feedback on the dedicated website, renewingriverview.com.
Committee members said while they were pleased with the open house turnouts — including from participants who had driven from Vancouver and surrounding suburbs — there was little time to get organized or to get the word out to the groups they represent.
The lack of parking at Burquest and Poirier was a sore point while other committee members complained about the "erroneous" information given out about the 102-year-old site.
Committee members Elaine Golds, a well-known Tri-City environmentalist, and Sherry Carroll, a former Port Coquitlam city councillor, said technical staff at the open houses gave them incorrect data about the former mental health institution.
Said Carroll: "It only takes one error to turn people off."
The chair, Coun. Craig Hodge, said skepticism on his committee is growing about BC Housing's vow to be transparent. Last month, CEO Shayne Ramsay reiterated to The Tri-City News that the provincial body is going into the year-long exercise with "an open mind" and will reveal all background documentation at renewingriverview.com.
But committee members said this week not all the past studies have been made available.
As for the Riverview Building Assessment 2013 report, which was published online last month, Golds and Carroll claimed them to be inaccurate. And later this month, the committee is expected to meet informally to review the inventory and highlight the errors, Hodge said.
According to the assessment report that was recently passed from the current site managers, Shared Services BC, to BC Housing, restoring the 43 key heritage buildings (of 75 structures) at Riverview would cost more than $200 million.
But that doesn't include the so-called "soft costs" — including seismic upgrades, hazardous materials abatement, environmental decontamination, and building code and sprinklers/fire safety system upgrades.
BC Housing, which said it was unable to comment before The Tri-City News' print deadline Thursday, has said one of its mandates in redeveloping Riverview is to make the investment break even.
Meanwhile, anyone wanting to comment on last week's open houses has until March 15; those submissions will be included in BC Housing's first feedback report and will form the basis for the next round of open houses in May or June.
The spring meetings are intended to create goals for the Riverview lands. Additional open houses are slated for September and December.
The most-expensive buildings at Riverview Hospital to restore or "renew":
BUILDING REPLACEMENT RENEWAL CONDITION
Henry Esson Young $21.7M $6.1M Poor
West Lawn $34.7M $7.2M Poor
Centre Lawn $23.5M $13.6M Critical
East Lawn $30.7M $20M Critical
North Lawn $33.8M $23.1M Critical
Crease Unit $12.7M $8.4M Critical