The Riverview Intentional Community Society, or RVICS for short, is a registered non-profit British Columbia organization dedicated to the creation of an “intentional community” on the Riverview Lands for the benefit of the seriously mentally ill.
The concept involves a mixed population – those with a serious mental illness and those without any mental illness integrated in the community.
RVICS’ first objective is to have the concept approved by the provincial government and its agency in charge of the Lands, B.C. Housing. We envision that, once that happens, RVICS will take an active role in the development and management of the Village, with B.C. Housing looking after infrastructure and non-residential buildings, housing societies in the field operating the residential housing, and RVICS looking after the community-development piece.
History through to the present
The Riverview Village Intentional Community Society (RVICS) began in 2014 as an informal group of individuals, committed to helping those most seriously affected by mental illness, who saw in the renewal of the Riverview Lands the possibility of a new model. They called themselves the Riverview Village Project, a name they still use to describe the work of the Society. The original discussion paper outlining the proposal, entitled “Riverview Village: an innovative ground-breaking community for the Riverview Lands,” was issued late July, 2014. It proposed a mixed-population “intentional community” for the benefit of those with a serious mental illness. The “Riverview Village Project” was formed to carry the proposal forward. Other papers followed (see Documents). The group also participated actively in B.C. Housing’s community engagement process on the Lands (a series of “open houses” under the rubric “Renewing Riverview”). It simultaneously began advocating for the proposal in the community at large, including presentations to other stakeholders such as the City of Coquitlam’s Riverview Lands Advisory Committee and the Tri-Cities Task Force on Homelessness and Housing.
The release by B.C. Housing of its Vision for Renewing Riverview, December 2015, in putting forward a mixed-population village which included those with a mental illness, was an important step forward towards the Riverview Village Project’s ground-breaking model. It lacked only one further step – a commitment to the village as an “intentional community,” one for the benefit of the seriously mentally ill. It’s this intentionality which is the key. The Project filed a detailed response, “Making the ‘Intentional Community Explicit.”
In September 2016 the Project incorporated as the Riverview Village Intentional Community Society – to carry on the work of advocating for the proposed village, to participate in B.C. Housing’s continuing planning process, and to be a participant in any implementation of the intentional community. The future of the Lands, and our proposal, rests with the provincial government, which, as of May 2020, has delayed making any decisions on the issue. One important consideration: the Kwikwetlem First Nation has made a claim on the Lands.
In the meantime, RVICS has continued to articulate its proposal and to explore with others the more general issue of inclusive communities of care, of which intentional communities are a leading example. In conjunction with the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC, and with seed money from Vancity, it launched the “inclusiveness project,” beginning with a major symposium in 2018 with a wide range of participants. RVICS at the same time is focussed on keeping its proposal for the Lands in front of the public and decision-makers, and on participating in future discussions with a view to implementation.