03/15/2013 05:57 EDT | Updated 05/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Mental health centre moves ahead with $57M from B.C.

B.C.'s minister of health announced that the provincial portion of the funding for a new mental health facility at Vancouver General Hospital has finally come through, and demolition of the old centre could start this fall.

The new $82 million facility will be named after Joe and Rosalie Segal, who donated $12 million to build it in 2010, Health Minister Margaret McDiarmid said Friday.

The new Joseph & Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre, which should be complete in 2017, will be a significant improvement over existing facilities, said McDiarmid.

"What we will have in the new centre is a better physical space: a safer safe, a space that is just more welcoming and is a much better environment for those who are ill enough to need to be in the hospital when they have a problem with their mental health," McDiarmid said.

"The centre will be built on the site of the Willow Chest Centre here in Vancouver, which has served long and well, but is now an outdated facility."

The Willow Chest Centre, which was built in 1948, has been housing some mental health services and administration offices for several years.

The existing mental health facilities at VGH have been criticized by some patients and their families as overcrowded, decrepit and unsafe.

Years of waiting

Plans to demolish the building and build anew have been in the works since 2002 and, in 2011, Joe Segal offered $12 million to help build the new facility, but the donation went untouched for more than a year because the B.C. government had not committed the remaining funds for the project.

Last year, Premier Christy Clark announced that the province would contribute $48 million to the new facility, while the the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and its corporate and private donors would contribute $25 million.

McDiarmid amended that figure Friday to a $57 million contribution from the province.

The Segal family is still contributing $12 million, which McDiarmid notes is one of the largest-ever personal gifts for mental health in Canada's history.