Supportive homes and communities


who we are

Vancouver Island Mental Health Society (formerly Columbian Centre Society) is a Registered Non-Profit Society organized on March 11, 1977 by a group of concerned citizens with leadership from the Knights of Columbus. The Society currently owns and operates five residences in Nanaimo B.C. serving approximately 30 adults.

our mission

Vancouver Island Mental Health Society (VIMHS) is a charitable Vancouver Island based organization demonstrating excellence in psychosocial rehabilitation for adults with mental health and addictions concerns, and/or cognitive challenges.  We engage communities through programs that promote recovery, social inclusion, safe housing, and public education.

our vision

VIMHS’s intent is to encourage a society that values and supports all people, including those experiencing psychiatric, addiction, and cognitive challenges through thoughtful, community-driven leadership.  Our resources are dedicated to:

– incorporating contemporary knowledge and best practices in the delivery of mental health and addictions programs, and

– fostering dialogue among local communities to generate responses to emergent and ongoing social challenges.



The Vancouver Island Health Authority contracts with the Society for the beds in Columbia House, K.C. House, Bob Currie Place, and Brewster House.

Gaming funds are received through the Harbour City Bingo Association.

The City of Nanaimo graciously waives some property taxes.

Contributions made through the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island are used to enhance resident programs.

our history

More than twenty-five years ago, the first resident was admitted to Columbia House. Several hundred people have come and gone during that period of time. We know that many have recovered and live in the community. Others have not been able to recover to the point where they are able to live independently in the community. Vancouver Island Mental Health Society ensures that they have an opportunity to try.

Dr. Giuseppe Multari was a psychologist at the Nanaimo Mental Health Centre in the early 1970s and became a founding member of Columbian Centre Society in 1977. He was instrumental in securing funding from the Knights of Columbus for Columbia House.

In the early 1970’s, under the auspices of the White Cross Society, Evelyn Hepinstall encouraged volunteers to visit patients on the Psychiatric Unit of the Nanaimo General Hospital. One of the primary problems identified by the patients was the need for a safe place to go upon their discharge from the hospital. To answer this need, a group of concerned citizens formed the Columbian Centre Society. The Society was incorporated on March 11th, 1977. Its stated purpose was to provide both a suitable residential environment and a program which would assist people discharged from psychiatric treatment centres to make a successful re-entry into their community.

The Knights of Columbus were instrumental in Columbia House’s development. The Society’s name at the time — Columbian Centre Society — reflected that legacy. Similarly, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation as well as B.C. Housing have played important roles in the creation and maintenance of our resources.

Over the years since Columbia House was established, Columbian Centre acquired four additional residences in order to provide a continuum of care and recovery.

Our other projects provide varying degrees of staff support with the objective of aiding the residents to achieve their highest level of independence. Columbia House remains the only licensed residential facility with 24/7 staffing in the Nanaimo area.

As the population of Nanaimo has grown, Vancouver Island Mental Health Society has been asked to provide services to individuals with a higher acuity of mental illness. The Society has responded to this changing need and hopes to increase its capacity to assist individuals to transition into community life.

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