05/03/2016 15:44 EDT | Updated 05/04/2017 01:12 EDT

Province takes first step toward redevelopment of Riverview lands

VANCOUVER — The B.C. government is taking the first steps toward redeveloping the Riverview lands in Coquitlam.

The Provincial Health Services Authority has issued a formal request seeking companies qualified to design and build a 105-bed Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

A release from the Ministry of Health says the new centre is expected to open in late 2019, replacing a similar one in Burnaby.

Plans were announced last year for the $175-million facility, with further development of the Riverview lands expected to include a treatment centre for adolescents and a 10-bed assessment clinic. 

The Kwikwetlem First Nation claims the property as part of its traditional territory.

The First Nation had originally opposed expansion of health-care services on the land without its consent but the ministry says it has a protocol agreement with the band and discussions on future development are ongoing.

"The new 105-bed facility will provide enhanced care for those with severe mental-health and substance-use issues, and help patients safely reintegrate back into the community," says Lynn Pelletier, vice-president, BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority.

The location and design of the new facility will align with a BC Housing's plan for a master development for the nearly 100-hectare Riverview site.

A psychiatric hospital and other mental-health facilities have been located on the property for nearly 100 years, but the lands have been mostly vacant since Riverview Hospital closed four years ago.

The Canadian Press