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Theatre makes Top 10 list

Chilliwack's Paramount Theatre was named to the Heritage Canada Foundation's annual Top 10 Most Endangered Places List on Tuesday.

The inclusion on the list comes six days after the deadline for the group hoping to save the building had to respond to the city's request for proposals.

The Paramount is included on a list along with Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, Ontario Place in Toronto, and Canada's lighthouses.

"Just getting the Paramount Theatre on this annual list brings more attention to our cause," said Laura Reid, who has been involved with the group hoping to turn the building into a repertory-style movie house. "Although there is no legislation in place to actually save a building in Chilliwack, this will, in my mind, keep the issue front and centre."

According to the Heritage Canada Foundation's (HCF) website, the annual top 10 list "is released annually to bring national attention to sites at risk due to neglect, lack of funding, inappropriate development and weak legislation. From unique 19th-Century landmarks to simple vernacular housing, stone railway stations to Modernist airports, heritage districts to single buildings, the list has become a powerful tool in the fight to make landmarks, not landfill."

The HCF looks at the significance of sites, urgency of threat and community support for the preservation to determine its top 10 list. HCF is a national membership-based, nonprofit organization.

The HCF says an "11th hour community group plans to save historic cinema, but faces scrutiny from sceptical city council."

The Paramount Theatre has been boarded up since November 2010, when Landmark Cinemas donated the property and building to the city.

Public outcry over the possible demolition- which was offered for free by the city-owned Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation- led to the formation of the Friends of the Paramount, now the Chilliwack Paramount Film Society. City council deferred the demolition and gave the group until June 21 to come up with a business plan.

phenderson@chilliwacktimes.com

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