It could feature a mental health education centre on one side of the road, and an oasis of urban farming on the other.
That's one vision Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart has for the fate of the Riverview Hospital lands, in light of the historic facility's closure one week ago.
In an interview Wednesday, Stewart confirmed that he and others on council have talked with presidents from major post-secondary institutions across B.C. around how to utilize the 250-acre hospital site in the future.
"The pitch essentially was, 'You couldn't be more central to the Lower Mainland, you couldn't have better transportation with the completion of the Port Mann Bridge and various other things,'" Stewart said. "And you can't have a more enthusiastic community to embrace such a site."
Stewart said he and others have approached officials with UBC, SFU, Douglas College and others about the prospect of a satellite campus at Riverview that would have a specific focus on mental-health training.
While Douglas College once offered psychiatric nursing training programs out of Riverview, Stewart sees the UBC option as perhaps the best fit for Riverview, given that SFU operates a campus in nearby Surrey.
"Could UBC actually have a campus in Coquitlam? I think it could. I think it would make a lot of sense," he said.
As for the other side of Lougheed Highway, Stewart suggested an urban farming operation at Colony Farm Regional Park would complement any potential mental-health training at Riverview.
"We're a boxed-in region and the agricultural land is well protected, but in order to expand the capacity to produce food here, we should look really seriously at urban farming," he said.
Last Friday, the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) moved the last patients out of Riverview into smaller care homes across B.C.
"Our role is essentially finished," said PHSA spokesperson Lesley Pritchard.
The work currently going on at the site is being headed up by the Ministry of Labour, Citizen Services and Open Government, which is tasked with general upkeep of the lands, while also heading up the Riverview Heritage Conservation Plan.
The heritage plan is meant to identify places, features and events that are identified by community members as having some sort of heritage-related significance.
According to ministry spokesperson David Haslam, the findings of the conservation plan will be turned over to the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Minister Responsible for Housing, which will then use that feedback to draft up a "land use plan" for Riverview.
A spokesperson for the housing ministry who requested anonymity told The NOW Thursday the heritage conservation plan is halfway done, and the findings of that plan will be presented to community members this fall. As for the next step - the land use planning document - the spokesperson declined to comment on any specifics, other than to say, "We are not considering future land use until the heritage plan is complete."