A panel of housing and health experts will lead the last round for the Riverview Hospital visioning project.
Last week, Michael Flanagan of BC Housing — which is in charge of the 244 acres of provincial land in Coquitlam — told the city's Riverview Lands advisory committee the agency has four professionals to lead a discussion on urban planning and mental health. They are:
• Julian Somers, professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and former director of the SFU Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction;
• Darrell Burnham, CEO of Coast Mental Health;
• Brent Toderian, president of Toderian UrbanWorks and former chief planner for the city of Vancouver;
• and Tsur Sommerville, director at the UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate.
The panel will be moderated by Gordon Price, director of The City Program at SFU and a former Vancouver city councillor.
Their talk and open house will take place on Wednesday, June 10 at the Executive Plaza Hotel (405 North Rd., Coquitlam) from 7 to 9:30 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m.
BC Housing has led the visioning exercise on the Riverview lands for the past 18 months. Its third round last fall involved generating a concept drawings that focused on five themes: mental health and wellness, natural environment, economic development, residential life and infrastructure.
Blaire Chisholm, vice-president of Brook Pooni Associates, which is responsible for the marketing campaign, told the Coquitlam city committee the 47 concept drawings received 597 unique views online and 60,000 votes.
And ranking at the top was mental health and wellness, she said (copies of the Round 3 consultation are available at the Coquitlam Public Library or can be found online at renewingriverview.com).
Flanagan also reaffirmed BC Housing's pledge to be "open and transparent" during the visioning process.
He told the committee that, since it has taken over the reins from Shared Services BC this year, BC Housing has brought on a full-time maintenance crew. As well, it plans to hire an arborist for the site's world-class arboretum as well as a senior operations director and a film co-ordinator (filming revenue is up at Riverview due to lower Canadian dollar, he said).
However, asked by Norma Gillespie about the committee's wishes to have an acute care hospital at Riverview, Flanagan said it's unlikely given the provincial government's priorities. "Some elements are there... but I don't think it goes as far as that aspiration," he said.
BC Housing is considering land uses and input from a number of stakeholders including the province of B.C., city of Coquitlam, Kwikwetlem First Nation, provincial partners and the public.
The city has sent its requests — along with a report from Dr. John Higgenbottam, a former vice-president of the 103-year-old institution — as has the Tri-Cities Homelessness and Housing Task Group.
At last Thursday's meeting, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce also presented a draft from its Riverview sub-committee, showing the majority of its members want to see an office/retail/private business component to complement the existing services.
Yesterday (Tuesday), committee chairperson Coun. Craig Hodge praised BC Housing for keeping the city and the community up to date. He's also pleased the two themes of mental health and natural environment have scored high, which aligns with Coquitlam's plans.
"I hope those will remain the key cornerstones to future development," Hodge said. "We need a mental health and wellness centre and we need to find a way to work within the footprint of the existing buildings so that we can keep Riverview special."