Riverview Hospital still considering seeking national heritage designation


Coquitlam’s Riverview Lands Advisory Committee wants the city to have another go at having the 244-acre mental health facility site receive a national heritage designation.

In 2009, the committee asked the city to apply for the designation to the Historic Sites and National Monuments Board of Canada. Its staff supported the application but did not take it to the board because the property’s owner, the province, did not provide a letter of support.

Riverview Hospital (Tri-City News file photo)

Committee chair Coun. Craig Hodge said its members felt with a change in provincial government in 2017 it would be worth making the request again.

“[The designation] doesn’t offer protection, but what it does do is open up potential for funding for restoration projects, commemoration and interpretation. It doesn’t protect it from any buildings from being demolished,” said Hodge in an interview with The Tri-City News.

Vancouver’s Gastown district, for example, noted Hodge, has the designation but still does redevelopment.

Although the committee recommended revisiting the application, city council at its meeting Monday night, decided to not act on it just yet. Hodge said he would raise it again with the newly elected council early in 2019.

He noted many of the players have changed since the original application was made including himself. Only two of council members elected Oct. 20 were in their present position a decade ago and there has been a changeover in staff as well, he said. There’s also a new group in charge in Victoria with the NDP and Green Party taking control of the legislature from the BC Liberals following the May 2017 election, he added.

Since 2009, the province has turned over management of the property to its BC Housing crown corporation, which is also in the midst of creating a new vision for the site. Hodge said it would be premature to reapply for the designation before everyone was brought up to speed.