We are writing to express our strong support for the elected municipal leaders in British Columbia who recently endorsed a resolution to reinstate the Riverview facilities and grounds as a modern centre of excellence for mental health care. The Union of BC Municipalities undertook this resolution because many of the buildings on the Riverview Lands were recently closed even though the province does not have sufficient alternative residences and facilities. As a result, patients have been shuffled through a series of temporary facilities or left to fend for themselves, creating substantial challenges for families, police and emergency rooms. To address this immediate need, the UBCM proposed a constructive, collaborative, compassionate solution to reinstate the Riverview facilities that have been a pillar of support to the province's mental health care system.
Surprisingly, Bev Gutray and Marina Morrow (Tri-Cities NOW, Oct. 18) criticized this UBCM resolution that would immediately contribute to these health care needs. Their criticism is misdirected and misguided.
First, they misrepresented the UBCM resolution by equating it with the idea that reinstating Riverview would be the solution to poverty and homelessness in B.C. Second, they claimed that having mental health care on the Riverview lands has patients "hidden away in institutions." In the history of asylum institutions, this negative evaluation may have been valid. However, for a number of decades, Riverview has been a supportive, tranquil setting with a variety of residential and care possibilities. Many patients and their families have found Riverview to be a very valuable therapeutic place of healing. For decades, the Riverview lands have been a neighbourhood of patients, family members, health care workers, staff and Tri-Cities residents. Just two weeks ago in the Tri-Cities NOW (Riverview saved my life, Oct. 4), Peter Toth provided a very powerful personal testimony about the value of Riverview as a safe haven with inspiring, healing grounds: "What communitybased program could assure such security, serenity and beauty?" We urge our municipal leaders to continue to work toward providing an array of services for mental health care, including the possibility of a peaceful sanctuary such as Riverview, which has been very beneficial for many patients.
Riverview Horticultural Centre Society
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