Riverview’s closure was first considered after the adoption of the BC Mental Health Act in 1965. The Act included a recommendation to have more “locally operated mental health services.” Over the years, many plans were reviewed by the Province to start closing the hospital. This showed the shift from institutional mental health care towards community-based care.
Over 30 years, Riverview’s patient numbers dropped from nearly 5,000 in the 1950s to less than 1,500 by the 1980s.
The 1990 Mental Health Initiative and 1991 “Closer to Home” Commission reports recommended replacing institutional-style care with smaller, more specialized regional facilities. Along with other community facilities created across the Province, Riverview saw the construction of three purpose-built mental health facilities. The Connolly, Cottonwood and Cypress lodges, were built in 2001, 2006 and 2008. These mental health facilities were the first to be built on the site since the 1960s.
The Lodges look very different than Riverview’s iconic West, Centre and East Lawn buildings. The changes in building structure echoes changes in the Province’s mental health care. Each Lodge has a smaller number of beds (about 20). The Lodges were built to have more client privacy and to feel like homes.
The last patient moved from Riverview in the summer of 2012 and the site’s operation as Riverview Hospital stopped.