Taseko funds mental health facility

Taseko Mines Ltd. has made a $1.5 million commitment to a new mental health facility at Vancouver General Hospital.

Taseko Mines Ltd. has made a $1.5 million commitment to a new mental health facility at Vancouver General Hospital.

“Taseko’s operations are exclusively British Columbia based,” said Taseko’s president and CEO Russell Hallbauer.  “We have over 700 people and their families living in the province, primarily in Williams Lake and the Cariboo region; and although this new facility will exist in Vancouver, it will be available to improve the lives of British Columbians, regardless of where they live.  That is important to us.”

Vancouver General Hospital Foundation CEO Barbara Grantham said the facility is accessed by people from all over the province for adult health services, including mental health and addiction issues.

Fundraising for the new facility’s total cost of $84.5 million is almost complete.

“Between the commitment from our foundation and the government, we have about $3.3 million to raise so we’re very close to the finish line,” Grantham said. “Russell Hallbauer used to be a member of our board of directors so he’s well aware of the role we play and what VGH does in the broader scene of provincial health care.”

The new facility will replace a 70-year-old building that Grantham described being terrible decrepit shape.

“It’s not at all a building that is conducive to help heal people who are struggling with mental health problems.”

There needs to be light, fresh air, the ability to exercise, privacy and therapeutic spaces. The  present building has none of that.

It has no private washrooms and no spaces where families and caregivers can sit and have a private conversation, she added.

“There is nowhere safe and enclosed for people to go outside.”

The new building will be erected 100 metres away from the existing one, across a parking lot, where another old building is being demolished.

On the lower level two floors will be dedicated to out-patient clinics for people who are Vancouver-based or living in temporary living situations.

Each of the five floors above will contain 20 private rooms, angled light and air, outdoor spaces, and there will be a garden on the roof. There will also be therapeutic spaces, whether they are libraries or art rooms.

“Our building team went all around the world to look for the very best in terms of facilities that we’re incorporating into our design here.”

Ground breaking is expected in late September, early October. It will take two years to build, with a goal of moving patients and services in early 2017.