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Plans for autism centre move ahead

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation building on Sea Island.  -
An artist’s rendering of the proposed Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation building on Sea Island.
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A planned centre for the study, treatment and assessment of autism—the first of its kind—is moving ahead on Sea Island.

The city’s development permit panel board will hear an application from NSDA Architects Wednesday for the construction of a 59,772-square-foot facility for the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation.

The $28-million centre is proposed for a vacant 0.9-hectare (2.3-acre) site off Russ Baker Way near the B.C. Institute of Technology Aerospace Campus, at 1001 Hudson Ave.

Foundation co-founder Sergio Cocchia presented plans to Richmond council a year ago.

Much of the project, $20 million, is being bankrolled by the province. Once built, the facility aims to become a “knowledge centre” in B.C., bringing together resources for research, information, learning assessment, treatment and support for people with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

“The concept for this centre involves both a new building in Richmond and services in regions across the province through a ‘hub, spoke and satellite’ framework,” according to the architect’s submission to the city.

Autism spectrum disorder occurs in approximately one of every 68 births, according to the centre’s website. It is four to five times more common in boys than girls, and is the most common neurological disorder in children.

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