On December 14, 2010, after several evenings of hearing speakers, City Council approved a massive plan for the increased commercialization and decreased greening of Hastings Park in spite of many speakers opposing the plan. The official plan is posted here.
In approximately June 2011, an Open Space Advisory Group (OSAG) was established by City Council to receive further input from representatives of selected community groups about the implementation of the Master Plan. The Hastings Park Conservancy currently had one representative attending those meetings.
Implementation of the City of Vancouver’s Master Plan is tracked on their website, as an urban planning project called Transforming Hastings Park and the PNE.
Following approval of the Master Plan in December 2010, the City of Vancouver indicated plans to undertake a governance review for Hastings Park, to potentially create a new model of governance. Community groups such as The Friends of Hastings Park lobbied for the Parks Board to have a central role in governing the park, in the hope of prioritizing community and public accountability over commercial profit-making, for activities programmed in the park.
Very little happened with this issue until late 2012, and a number of Open Houses were set by the City to occur in March and April 2013. The Friends of Hastings Park coalition also held its own Public Meeting to compile community input.
Most of the options the City presented, leading up to its ultimate decision, favoured continuance of PNE control of the Hastings Park site (i.e., status quo). The Friends of Hastings Park submitted this Community Input Statement to the City’s final Open House on May 2, 2013.
Sadly, despite support from the Park Board and broad residential support for Park Board governance, City Council officially made its final decision on August 1, 2013, to allow the PNE board (with some revisions) to continue as permanent governor of Hastings Park.
Over the last few years, the City and the PNE, in conjunction with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has also now turned our beloved Sanctuary into an urban “freshwater fishing” pond, a pier was built, and they began to stock it with fish. During The Fair at the PNE, visitors are now offered fishing lessons. The Conservancy was minimally consulted, and has always had concerns about this initiative, and its impact on the ecological balance that had so far been cultivated in the sanctuary. Additionally, on several occasions, members of the Conservancy have reported heavy pruning of the trees and shrubs around the sanctuary, with concerns about protection of bird nests during mating season.
In the latest of disappointing developments surrounding the issue of Hastings Park governance, on June 10, 2015, the City’s Standing Committee on Finance and Services officially voted to remove Park Board representation from the PNE Board. The PNE Board oversees the operation of the entire Hastings Park site (excepting Empire Field at the east end of the Park). This leaves a single elected official (Coun. Raymond Louie at the time of this writing) as the only “community” voice who can give input to the oversight of Vancouver’s second largest park, with no Park Board input anymore.
A video clip of that portion of the meeting can be viewed here:
Despite unanimous opposition from elected Park Board Commissioners themselves, and a close vote among Councillors (5 to 4), the formal restructuring of the PNE Board removes the Park Board seat, and reduces the size of Board overall.
As several speakers pointed out during the June 10th discussion, transparency around the running of Hastings Park will most certainly decrease as a side effect of this change–rather than increase, as had been promised in earlier adoption of the Hastings Park Master Plan in 2010.
A further disappointing outcome for the Hastings-Sunrise community in regard to the dream of a green Hastings Park.