It was once revered as an architectural masterpiece, one of the crown jewels of the Riverview Hospital site.
It's now sitting empty, ravaged by time and neglect.
The West Lawn Building turns 100 on Monday, April 1, a milestone that offers up more questions than answers as to the building's fate, and the fate of the former hospital site.
"It is a challenge, because those buildings have been degrading for all of my life," said Mayor Richard Stewart.
"The challenges associated with the degradation of heritage assets is enormous, and something we should all be concerned about."
Initially known as the Hospital For the Mind at Mount Coquitlam, the West Lawn Building opened in 1913 and housed 340 male patients. By the end of that year, 453 patients called the building home.
The site then went on to be known as the Male Chronic Wing before it was named the West Lawn Building in 1950. It was permanently closed in 1983.
The building has fallen into ruin since that time, a process Coun. Craig Hodge calls "demolition through neglect."
"West Lawn really served as the beginning of Riverview's history," said Hodge, who chairs the city's Riverview lands advisory committee.
"It was the starting point for this historic site."
The provincial Ministry of Citizens' Services and Open Government was tasked with undertaking a heritage conservation plan for the hospital grounds last year.
That process was meant to engage the public, while identifying the places, features and events that have some sort of heritage-related significance.
From there, the feedback gleaned from that exercise was to be used by BC Housing as it prepared a land use plan for the hospital site.
The heritage planning process wrapped up last fall, but Coquitlam council has heard very little since that time as to what happens next.
"We've heard nothing," Hodge said. "We have not had any indication about where the process stands at this point."
Phone calls and e-mails to a pair of staffers within the Ministry of Citizens' Services and Open Government were not returned.
Both Hodge and Stewart suggested no news will be forthcoming regarding the site until after the May 14 election.
The city has long maintained the site should be preserved in its totality, including the close to 2,000 trees in its arboretum, while continuing to provide some form of mental-health services.
Hodge envisions a site that provides a health-care facility, a wellness centre or even a small animation school. Stewart shares those sentiments, and suggested a postsecondary institution could be set up there, as well as allowing for more TV and film production to take place.
In the short term, however, both want to see a concrete plan that spells out which buildings can be remediated and when.
"We have to work out with the provincial government a plan for how they intend to preserve these buildings because heritage assets don't preserve themselves," Stewart said. "Inaction is the same, in many ways, as demolition because we won't have those buildings any more."
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