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Chilliwack's Paramount Theatre named to national top 10 endangered heritage site list

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

The inclusion on the list comes a week after the deadline for the group hoping to save the building had to respond to the city's request for proposals (RFP).

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

The HCF says that 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.

The city issued a request for proposals (RFP) to run the building but of two responses, neither had a suitable business plan.

Public outcry over the possible demolitionwhich was offered for free by the city-owned Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporationled 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.

The HCF backgrounder on the Paramount said: "Architecturally, the cinema declares its roots in the International stylecharacterized by vertical and horizontal lines with little ornamentationwith traces of Art Deco influences in its signage and fluted façade. Solidly built, the movie house features laminated firewalls and is constructed of reinforced concrete and 60 tons of structural steel. It is listed on the City of Chilliwacks Heritage inventory, but it is not a designated heritage site."

HCF's Top Ten Most Endangered Places List

- Riverview Hospital 2601 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam, BC

- Paramount Theatre 46147 Yale Road, Chilliwack, BC

- Barron Building 610 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB

- École Connaught Community School 2124 Elphinstone Street, Regina, SK

- Hamilton Education Centre 100 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON

- Ontario Place 955 Lakeshore Blvd, Toronto, ON

- Bala Falls Cultural Landscape 1044 Bala Falls Road, Township of Muskoka Lakes, ON

- Église du Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus 4215 rue Adam, Montreal, QC

- Zion Baptist Church 27 Parade St., Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

- Canadas Lighthouses

phenderson@chilliwacktimes.com

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