Our major achievements have been:
The Riverview Lands book (published with the help of a grant from Environment Canada) offered in-depth information about the history, the ecology and the trees. Besides this informational component, the book served to raise awareness as it was distributed to libraries, schools, colleges etc as well as being offered for sale and raising funds for the society.
"The Four Seasons of Riverview" video. This grew from early initiatives taken by representatives of the Society to speak to local groups. This sparked the interest of many of Riverview's neighbours and attracted many people to the Lands. Speakers used slides of the Lands in making presentations to heritage, horticultural, political and educational groups This slide show (and eventually the video) has helped us share the particular magic of the Lands. Copies are used to acknowledge to major donors.
Developing a self guided tour, and the RHCS kiosk on the Lands where explanatory brochures can be picked up. This gives people who cannot attend a guided tour a chance to learn more about some 65 major trees.
Our first guided tree tours were presented by Bill Browne and CBC Canadian Gardener David Tarrant during Mental Health Week 1992. Since then we have offered widely advertised, regular and frequent tours of the Lands reaching hundreds of members of the public. Tour guides are Society members and volunteers from Coquitlam Parks and Leisure staff. Our members have also given tours to many special interest groups, some from as far away as Japan. These groups have included large groups of students, Van Dusen tour guides and Master Gardeners Many of our knowledgeable visitors have been overwhelmed by the mature beauty and variety of trees.
From the beginning the Society has worked to generate media coverage, and has received it generously, especially from the Tri-City News and the Coquitlam Now. We have also had feature articles in the Vancouver Sun, The Province , a sketch of them in the Globe and Mail, and articles in Beautiful British Columbia magazine, The Journal of the Vancouver Natural History Society, Heritage B.C. and Heritage Canada, and the Riverview Hospital NewsletterVolunteers newsletter. Burke Mountain Naturalists and Poco Garden Club newsletters have also featured the Lands. We have received publicity on BCTV and other television newscasts. David Tarrant presented a feature on the Lands on CBC television's program "The Canadian Gardener", and Rogers Cable Four presented an hour long program about the Lands in December 1998. and the
Displays have helped us reach a wide audience and we have mounted a display at Van Dusen Garden Show each year since its inception. We have also had displays at Coquitlam Environmental Fair, the Festival du Bois, Coquitlam Heritage Symposium and Douglas College's Green Links Symposium. In conjunction with Coquitlam Parks and Leisure we have hosted the annual Tree Fest at Riverview for four years.
Because the Lands are owned by the Province, advocacy for the Lands to provincial representatives has been a priority. This paid off when BC Buildings Corporation (BCBC) undertook a formal tree inventory process which identified some 1800 significant and important trees on the site, and created a data base of this information. Numbered tags were also placed on these trees, so there is a reference point for obtaining more information. The tags are also a valuable part of the self guided tour.
Our early intervention at Riverview halted any action resulting from a development study that was underway prior to our involvement. It was also largely due to the Society's efforts that the Provincial Government initiated a Land Use study process in 1995. Public opinion was gathered through displays and meetings and an initial report was published in April 1996. The preliminary findings of the Land Use committee supported the position taken by the Society. However, a freeze on the public consultation process was announced in September 1996 and the study was never completed. Plans to build a new psychiatric hospital on the site were scrapped and since then the future of the Lands looks cloudy at best.
We have developed useful alliances with groups and individuals who have been shown the beauty and importance of the Lands and who have joined us in trying to save them. Burke Mountain Naturalists was an early ally, offering us publicity in their newsletter and generating the interest of the Federation of B.C. Naturalists, who passed a resolution in favour of preserving the Riverview Lands. Our advocacy also led to an informal alliance with the B.C. Schizophrenia Society, who wish to have the Lands preserved in perpetuity for the benefit of mentally ill people in B.C. In collaboration with BCSS we have assembled a petition, addressed to the Provincial Government, with some 22,000 names demanding the preservation of the Riverview Lands. Individual supporters include David Tarrant, Brian Minter and David Suzuki.
Within the RHCS we have published and distributed regular newsletters for members and supporters, bookmarks were printed with Ken Baker's photographs and a message about the Lands, and T-shirts have been designed and sold. Members regularly present the message of preserving the Lands to other organizations to which they belong, for example garden clubs and BC Retired Employees. One member of leads the Audobon bird count on the Lands. Lastly, and very important in maintaining visibility for the Society over a period of time, members write frequent letters to the editors of local papers, keeping the issue of the Lands consistently before the public.