Dozens of B.C. NDP supporters rallied on the grounds of the Riverview hospital lands in Coquitlam, B.C. Sunday in support of the party's proposal to reopen the site if elected May 9.
In its 100-year history, the site has been home to several facilities, most notably one of the most significant psychiatric hospitals in the province.
It was closed in 2012 and the future of its facilities and surrounding lands — many of which are considered heritage assets — have been the subject of speculation ever since.
'A healing place'
People at the rally held signs which read, "Riverview a healing place and "save Riverview from market housing."
There were few Liberal supporters in the crowd which came as a surprise to some local residents like Margaret Gibson.
"I'm quite horrified as I'm standing here today to see this turn into a political rally,' said Gibson.
"I did not expect this to be a political rally — I thought all and sundry would come out to support Riverview."
The B.C. NDP's platform, promises to, "reopen facilities on the Riverview lands to provide residential care where needed."
The mayor of Coquitlam has called for the site to be reopened to help deal with the opioid crisis.
Those at the rally said they're worried the B.C. Liberals could sell off parts of the site and develop other parts to include market housing.
As part of its budget in February, the provincial government said it is investing approximately $175 million to construct two new buildings, a 105-bed mental-health facility to replace the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, and a new facility to accommodate the 28-bed Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre and the 10-bed Provincial Assessment Centre.
"The buildings at Riverview are old, decrepit and riddled with asbestos," said the B.C. Liberals in a release in response to Horgan's promise. "The same buildings the NDP platform promised to reopen."
The party's 2017 election platform says it will spend $101 million to build the 105-bed mental health facility at Riverview site to replace the current facility in Burnaby.
with files fromBal Brach.