In March 1995, City Council requested that the Park Board prepare plans for the “greening of Hastings Park”, with the assistance of the newly-formed Hastings Park Working Committee, made up of representatives from arts and culture, sports, environment, the Track, and residents representing both local and city-wide interests.
Soon afterward, members of the community embarked on an unprecedented public planning process, in partnership with the Park Board. In a number of day-long workshops, they addressed all social and environmental aspects of restoring this large public park space.
From the information gathered during the workshops, the committee identified the underlying community values that would once again integrate the site’s year-round uses with the needs of the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Vancouver landscape architect Chris Phillips’ firm of Phillips, Farevaag and Smallenberg was hired to translate the community’s vision into good design that integrated the many different components of the park. Construction of the various spaces, both indoors and out, is to be implemented in phases over the next twenty years. (See plan above)
In 1996, Vancouver City Council and the Park Board unanimously approved the Hastings Park Restoration Program. This comprehensive plan was to have seen over 55% of the site (92 of the 162 acres) converted back to greenspace and community recreation uses, along with a significant reduction of commercial activities. The community and stakeholder consultation process involved thousands of hours of work by community groups and individual volunteers, Parks Board staff, planners, environmental consultants and landscape architects. The process has since been referred to by many as the prototype for effective and productive public consultation.
You can view a scanned PDF of the 1996 Restoration Plan as it was originally published. Here are the key obectives of the Restoration Plan as approved by Council and Parks Board in February 1996:
Restore the park’s stream: Water will play a major role in Hastings Park. The stream, which existed until 1935, will be “daylighted” and restored as the central feature in the park.
Restore the park’s natural features: Native West Coast species of trees, shrubs, grasses and herbs will recreate the feeling of forests and meadows that dominated the site a century ago.
Restore a green sanctuary: Hastings Park will provide a natural and serene setting as one moves toward the centre of the park, with more active uses on the perimeter of the park.
Focus community pride: Hastings Park will become the focus for a strong sense of community pride.
Connect the park to the neighbourhood: Hastings Park will be well connected to surrounding residential areas by reducing the barrier effects created by surrounding streets and highways.
Connect with adjacent parks: Significant green links will be created between Hastings Park and New Brighton Park, Hastings Community Park and Callister Park.
Integrate active and passive park uses: The park will incorporate a variety of active uses (sports, arts activities, playgrounds) with passive uses (streams, forests, gardens, view areas).
Integrate the old with the new: Hastings Park will capture the site’s rich history, yet distance itself from the past to create something new and distinct.
Integrate Racetrack within the park: The Racetrack will be carefully integrated into the park, with better visual access into and softer edges around the Racetrack.
Experiment with new ideas: Ecological experimentation will be encouraged in Hastings Park. The park’s waterbodies will be fed with storm water collected from the residential area to the south. Storm water cleaning will be achieved through biofiltration.
Create a safe park: Hastings Park will be carefully designed to create a strong sense of security for its diverse users.
To read the full details of the Restoration Program reports to Council, click here.
Unfortunately, the vision defined in the 96 Plan and years of work by thousands of Vancouver residents is now in serious jeopardy. In 2001, the Provincial government cancelled the relocation of the PNE and transfered ownership of it to the City of Vancouver. City Council in turn rezoned the entire site to allow slot machines at Hastings racecourse and potentiated the PNE’s illegitimate control over the property, to the detriment of the community and in contravention of both the 1889 Trust and the objectives set out in the 1996 Plan.