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‘Demolition by neglect’ at Riverview: Nicholson
The future of Treefest could be in jeopardy unless the province does a better job of maintaining the Riverview Hospital grounds, according to a Coquitlam councillor.
While the 20th annual event is set to get underway this Saturday, Coun. Craig Hodge, who chairs the city’s Riverview lands advisory committee, said provincial budget cutbacks mean the lawns and vegetation have not been maintained.
“I am really concerned about the future of Treefest but also just the grounds,” he said at Monday’s council meeting. “It’s a terrible situation and it is disheartening to see the grounds fall into such a state of disrepair.”
During a recent visit to the area, Hodge said he found many of the historic trees in poor shape and one that had blown over during a recent windstorm had not been cleared away. He also noted invasive species moving into the area, which could be detrimental to the vegetation that already exists on the 244-acre property.
With the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ annual convention coming up next week, Hodge said he and his fellow councillors should be pressing provincial officials to restore maintenance funding to the grounds.
The B.C. government controls the property and Coun. Neal Nicholson said he believes Victoria is purposely defunding maintenance operations in an effort to pave the way for development of the site.
“It is demolition by neglect,” he said. “The more it moves into this state... the more it becomes clear that redevelopment is the next step once there is nothing left to preserve.”
Last year, the Heritage Canada Foundation’s Top 10 list of endangered heritage sites included Riverview. The document said the former mental health facility, established in 1904 and once home to more than 4,300 patients, boasts a world-class arboretum and is an “extraordinary Greater Vancouver cultural landscape threatened with insensitive development.”