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Spectacular trees on view as public tours resume at səmiq̓ʷəʔelə in Coquitlam

The Riverview Horticultural Centre Society is once again holding its monthly tree tours at the former Riverview psychiatric hospital lands in Coquitlam after a nearly two-year hiatus
Riverview trees  niloo_rawmagiq
Take a tour of the trees at səmiq̓ʷəʔelə — also known as the former Riverview hospital lands in Coquitlam.Monthly tours start this Sunday, Aug. 15.

Nature lovers can get get up close and personal with a stately collection of mature trees on the 244-acres of səmiq̓ʷəʔelə also known as the former Riverview Hospital lands in Coquitlam.

More than 1,800 tree specimens, including exotic and native species, have been planted throughout the site and the Riverview Horticultural Centre Society is once again re-establishing the popular tree tours after a nearly two-year hiatus.

Beginning Sunday (Aug. 15), the tree tours will take place on site, led by arborist James Bobick, who will talk about the trees, and how and why they were planted during successive hospital administrations dating back to 1913.

Follow up tours will be held Sept. 12 and Oct. 17.

Bringing the public back to the beautiful location, now called səmiq̓ʷəʔelə or Place of the Great Blue Heron, is a thrill for long-time Riverview Horticultural Society treasure Linda Asgeirsson.

“We’re very excited because it appears a lot of changes are coming to the Riverview site and we want to remind people about the trees and the arboretum that’s there. We’re glad to be able to get back and doing that.”

COVID-19 restrictions were among the reasons the tours haven’t been held since October 2019, Asgeirsson said, expressing confidence that people will want to have a closer look at the trees, especially with planning underway for the property.

Here are the details:

  • The tours are free, take place rain or shine and begin at 1 p.m., lasting no longer than two hours. Children are welcome, dogs must be on a leash, and participants should wear comfy shoes or boots.
  • The meeting location is in the in the parking lot of the Henry Esson Young Building (HEY Building) which is located approximately in the centre of the səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview site.
  • Hand sanitizer and a mask, if needed, will be provided, and participants will be required to register their contact details upon arrival. Washrooms will be open. 

For those unfamiliar, here are some directions.

  •  Enter səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview at either the Colony Farm Road traffic light or Holly Drive off the Lougheed Hwy in between the two new buildings.
  •  Follow Holly Drive through the grounds until reaching Oak Crescent, then turn uphill and then turn right on Kalmia Drive which is where the HEY building and start of the tour is located.
  •  Ample parking will be available and directional signs will be in place to assist with finding the tour start location. Here is a map to the meeting site.


In March, BC Housing announced it had partnered with the Kwikwetlem First Nation (KFN) to guide growth on the century-old site; the provincial government also renamed Riverview Hospital to səmiqʷəʔelə — or Place of the Great Blue Heron — in honour of KFN's ancestral ties. The Nation, which has land claims on the property, will also receive an undetermined amount of parcels.

Meanwhile, the Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction is scheduled to be operational in October, providing 105 beds for people with complex and severe mental illness and addictions; it will replace the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

– with files from Janis Cleugh, Tri-City News