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Riverview on national endangered list

Coquitlam's Riverview Hospital grounds are now one of the most endangered historic sites in the country.

Coquitlam's Riverview Hospital grounds are now one of the most endangered historic sites in the country.

On Wednesday, Heritage Canada Foundation released its Top 10 list for 2012 that also includes Chilliwack's Paramount Theatre, Canada's lighthouses and the Barron building, the birthplace of Calgary's oil industry.

"I think this is good because, right now, we are in the middle of a heritage conservation plan with the provincial government and I think it shows the value of Riverview - not just for the residents of Coquitlam but also across the country," said Coun. Craig Hodge, who chairs the city's Riverview Lands Advisory Committee.

Foundation spokesperson Carolyn Quinn said the provincially owned site had been on the group's radar for some time and, when the Riverview Horticultural Centre Society submitted its formal package earlier this month, the application was pushed to the top for consideration "fairly quickly."

The foundation bases its decisions on three key factors: the property's heritage value, its level of threat and the community support to keep it. And though there's no guarantee the buildings will be saved, "it helps to draw attention to the cultural and heritage elements" of the site, Quinn said.

In its publication, the foundation wrote that Riverview - a 244-acre mental health facility, established in 1904, that once housed more than 4,300 patients and boasts a world-class arboretum - is an "extraordinary Greater Vancouver cultural landscape threatened with insensitive development."

It continued: "Made wary by the province's previous redevelopment proposals, Riverview supporters are concerned by the province's apparently swift decision-making timelines. In May, a series of open houses to gather heritage feedback were held on very short notice leaving many residents concerned that the process was being rushed."

RHCS' nomination was supported by a number of Tri-City organizations as well as Coquitlam city council.

The inclusion on the national list comes days after a farewell party was held for current and former staff at Riverview.

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Heritage Canada Foundation's top 10 endangered places list brings national attention to sites at risk due to neglect, lack of funding, inappropriate development and weak legislation. Here are this year's "winners":

Riverview Hospital, Coquitlam

Paramount Theatre, Chilliwack

Barron building, Calgary

École Connaught community school, Regina

Hamilton Education Centre, Hamilton

Ontario Place, Toronto

Bala Falls Cultural Landscape, Township of Muskoka Lakes

Église du Tres-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus, Montreal

Zion Baptist Church, Yarmouth

Canada's lighthouses