Fraser Health is planning to build a mental health facility on Marshall Road in Abbotsford.

Fraser Health is planning to build a mental health facility on Marshall Road in Abbotsford.

50-bed mental health facility coming to Abbotsford

Project will be built close to Abbotsford hospital

A facility providing 50 mental health care beds will be constructed in Abbotsford, potentially opening in 2016.

The project came to light at a meeting of the city’s homelessness action advisory committee last Thursday, on which Fraser Health has a representative.

Many details about the project are still forthcoming, according to Tasleem Juma, senior public affairs consultant with Fraser Health, who said it is “something we are working on as part of our role in the larger task force on homelessness.”

Provincial agency BC Housing is a partner in the project and confirmed that it will be located at 33134 Marshall Rd., near the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre.

That property is the former home of the Abbotsford Hospice Society, which is now in temporary office space on Simon Avenue until its offices move into Holmberg House adult hospice next to the hospital when that project is complete.

Juma explained the mental health facility  will provide replacement beds for the Sunrise Care Home, which closed a few years ago. The Sunrise special care facility had 30 beds to treat clients referred from Abbotsford Mental Health, according to the 2009 Abbotsford social housing inventory.

“These are beds that were in Abbotsford. Clients had been relocated to other facilities either in Abbotsford or in the region, and these are beds that would then potentially replace those…”

A online request for proposals referred to the project as a facility with about 20 assisted living units and 30 licensed beds. It said the facility would be operated by the MPA Society, “a recognized leader in community mental health service program delivery.”

It states that the funding will be provided by Fraser Health, with the site owned by the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation.

David MacIntyre, executive director of the MPA Society, told The News they will be the operator of the project.

He said licensed care is the highest level of care in the mental health community, “so that means nursing support, medication, administrations, meals.” Residents in the assisted living units are provided with one meal a day, but their living situation is more independent, he said.

Combining the two levels of care allows people “as they progress and stabilize and improve, to move to a lower level of care to try and promote independence,” said MacIntyre.

MPA Society has been operating mental health housing for 44 years, he said, and runs facilities around the Lower Mainland.

The project is a ground-up construction, expected to open in 2016.

“It will be beneficial to the community – it’s bringing services back into the community,” said Juma.

The mandate of the homelessness action advisory committee is to provide advice to council on homelessness issues and provide oversight on an action plan, which was approved last year.

It lists establishing a mental health and addictions facilities in Abbotsford, with a minimum of 50 beds, as a priority for the city.

Mental health issues are a key factor in homelessness, and are related to a significant percentage of police calls and emergency room visits.