Consultations may still be underway for the future of the Riverview Hospital lands but that’s not stopping BC Housing from hiring a project co-ordinator to “manage the real estate development activities” for the 244-acre site.
According to the job description posted on BC Housing’s website last month and again on bcjobs.ca on Jan. 23, the successful applicant will provide expertise on the development of multi-unit residential social housing, supportive housing and affordable rental housing.
The closing date for applications is Feb. 14 — two days after the deadline for public feedback on a draft plan for the site entitled A Vision for Renewing Riverview.
And the posting has a local NDP MLA asking questions.
“I want to know what the rush is,” said Selina Robinson, the MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville, whose constituency includes Riverview. “You have to wait until they finish the process.”
A communications person for BC Housing said that neither Minister of Housing Rich Coleman or Shayne Ramsay, BC Housing’s CEO, would be available to comment.
When asked about the job description, particularly the responsibilities involving real estate development activities, BC Housing put out a statement saying the successful applicant will oversee an “electrical distribution upgrade and a transportation study, and is not expected to support the visioning process.”
While the job description does not say anything about the development of market housing — a controversial topic in the Tri-Cities — MLA Robinson said residents are already suspicious about the provincial government’s plans for the Riverview lands.
“They are moving full-steam ahead,” she said. “They don’t care about the feedback. What if the community says no to housing. Would it matter? Why am I providing feedback when they have already made a decision?”
BC Housing presented its high-level vision in December and has been running an online open house since before Christmas. Feedback can be provided online at renewingriverview.com until Feb. 12.
The document noted that while no clear consensus on market housing could be found, it stated that the property “provides an opportunity to help address affordable housing issues in the Tri-Cities.”
One of the guiding principles imposed by the province is a break-even mandate, which means that all costs associated with the renewal of the land must be offset by revenue generated from the property.
When the document was unveiled last month, Ramsay told The Tri-City News more fine-tuning of the land-use plan would take place after the public consultation period. At that point, the proposal would move to the city of Coquitlam for further discussion.
“We will come to a formal agreement that will accommodate all the aspirations for the site,” Ramsay said at the time. “It’s a 244-acre site. We have a great opportunity to define relations with the first nations, with the broader community and with local government.”
RIVERVIEW RALLY ON SUNDAY
A group calling itself Protect Riverview is rallying opposition to any for-profit commercial development or market housing on the Riverview Hospital lands.
Its members are inviting residents concerned about the future of the 244-acre site to a gathering at Coquitlam’s Spirit Square (off Pinetree Way at Burlington Drive, across from city hall) on Sunday to show their support for their vision of the property.
“We believe the land should retain its initial purpose as a sanctuary for those with mental health challenges,” Protect Riverview said in an email. “We envision a campus of care, of which many models around the world have been successful.”
The gathering will take place on Jan. 31 between noon and 2 p.m. For more information about Protect Riverview, go to protectriverview.wordpress.com or email email@example.com.