Councillors fail to honour Chilliwack’s history

Saving the Paramount is about more than saving the sign, writer says.

So Mayor Gaetz wants to save the Paramount sign. “People love that sign,” she is quoted as saying.”It’s a familiar landmark to all of us.” (No timeline yet on Paramount demolition, Chilliwack Progress, Aug. 28.)

Surely, Madam Mayor, you jest. You go on to say that perhaps at least “pieces” of the sign “will be incorporated into the new building that still bears the Paramount name.”

For goodness sake it’s not the sign that the people of Chilliwack want to preserve, it’s the building. Putting a piece of the old sign onto a new building would be like adding salt to a wound.”It’s nostalgia, and it’s beautiful.” How patronizing.

You mention that the process of downtown revitalization requires “patience: one of the recommendations of the Downtown Task Force is to assemble pieces of land in the downtown and make bold moves to take down buildings that cannot be remediated.” But just what is this “bold new vision” for the city centre to which you refer? I don’t recall seeing any plans for same. We had a plan at one time: to preserve the architecture and ambience of one of B.C’s first incorporated cities, whose downtown core once hummed with activity — one only has to look at the archival photos of a vibrant downtown core, which now crawls along, a gutted shadow of its former self.

Mayor Gaetz, you were quoted as saying that having empty storefronts and open spaces where buildings used to be is something that every community goes through. You say that the land has to be assembled by private owners, that “it’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished, with greening, and trees and public space, all the lovely things that make a neighbourhood.”

How absurd. Buildings, people, familiar shops, preserved facades, densified business and restaurants with outdoor patios which give a place atmosphere and activity, this is what makes a city neighbourhood. What’s that, Coun. Huttema? Planter boxes of veggies on the gutted theatre site? This is Chilliwack not Vancouver. We don’t need a downtown veggie garden—we are covered for veggies thanks. Are you sure you live locally?

I can’t state strongly enough how discouraged I am by the actions taken by council over these matters. Few seem to have any sensitivity for the history and unique ambience here that is worth preserving. Many small communities have revitalized their downtown core while preserving existing buildings. This council does not honour the history of this city, nor the vision of its founders, nor the uniqueness of its architecture, as evidenced by the decisions taken over the past few years. Your vision of revitalization through destruction is ill conceived and lacking in sensitivity. Your recent handling of the Paramount theatre issue smacks of deception. The voice of the people was ignored.

With the exception of Jason Lum, I will not be voting for any of you in the next election.


Gail Hampson