Guy Faint’s Press Release, May 1980

No one understood the Trust better than park advocate Guy Faint, who became a local hero for his legal challenge in support of park restoration. In 1980, Faint sent out a press release outlining his case that government had contravened the Trust:

3096 Hastings Street

May 8, 1980

SUBJECT: The leasing of a public park originally called Hastings Park and later Exhibition Park which was given to the Corporation of the City of Vancouver on 22 August 1889 in fee in trust; “for the use, recreation and enjoyment of the public by the Provincial Government.”

The City of Vancouver has leased this public park since 1908 to the Vancouver Exhibition Association (which changed its name on 7 February 1946 to Pacific National Exhibition); in part at first (61 acres approximately), and eventually in whole (160 acres) in 1913. Subsequently in 1914 the Parks Board gained back control of 10.13 acres of the original grant and the Vancouver Exhibition Association and or P.N.E. has had control by lease of the balance of the original grant, approximately 150 acres. For brevity I will refer to the Vancouver Exhibition Association or the P.N.E. as the “Ex. Assoc.”

This Exhibition Association was incorporated the 27th May 1908 under the “Agricultural and Horticultural Societies Amendment Act, 1904.” On the 20th August 1914 it was incorporated under the “Agricultural Association Act, 1914” and as aforementioned, changed its name on the 7th February 1946 to Pacific National Exhibition. On 15th March 1955 it was incorporated under B.C. Statutes (Ch. 107). On the 26th March 1965 — “An act to amend the P,N.E. Incorporation Act” Chapter 65 was enacted and finally on the 18th April 1973 there was produced a new P.N.E. Incorporation Act (Ch. 66). The original Constitution of the “Ex. Assoc.” as stated by J.J. Miller former President of the V.E.A. were defined as follows:

“The objects of the Association are for the good of our country and our people, to organize and conduct exhibitions for:
a) The promotion of practical and scientific husbandry in all its varying branches.
b) The improvement of the breed of horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, dogs, poultry and other farm and domestic animals.
c) The development of the industrial resources of the country.
d) The dissemination of mechanical and scientific knowledge,
e) The encouragement of the cultivation of the beautiful in nature and art.
f) The stimulation of healthy rivalry for supremacy and excellence in the minds of the rising generation,
9) The promotion of trade and commerce.
h) The development of the rich mineral, fishing and lumbering resources of the country.”

In the 1955 Incorporation (Ch. 107) under Section (5) it states:

“The objects of the Ex. Assoc. are to encourage and promote the welfare of the agricultural and other industries of the country and matters having to do with civic improvement generally and other matters or things having a civic, national, patriotic, scientific, agricultural, artistic, educational, social, recreational or sporting character, or any other object, except profit, useful or beneficial to the people generally and to provide facilities for the same.”

The objects in the P.N.E. in Section 3 of the Incorporation of 1973 (Ch. 66) practically echoes the 1955 objects as well as giving it additional powers in Section 4.

The purpose of this resume is to show the consistency of the aims and objects throughout the years from 1908 to the present day.


Now we will examine how the constitution and its objects are inconsistent with the purpose of the parks creation and its trusts.


THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (On Information of Anderson)
on a decision by C.J. Begbie 1884

“The corporation of Victoria was, under an Act of Parliament, seized of 120 acres, (‘Beacon Hill Park’) upon trust to lay out and maintain the same as a public park, or pleasure ground for the enjoyment of the inhabitants.

HELD, that the corporation could not convey any of such land free from that trust.

HELD that cattle lairs, an Agricultural Hall for the exhibition of farming implements and products, and an Emigrants Home, were not within the objects of the trust.

An Individual Inhabitant cannot sue to restrain a misuse of the park, unless specially injured thereby, but the Attorney General must join or be joined.

It is the duty of the Attorney General, in cases of disputed rights to remove obstacles in the way of trial of those rights–receiving an indemnity as to costs”

If we look farther into the judgment Judge Begbie states:

“Now the prominent words, repeated four times over in the 5 or 6 clauses, are, that the land is to be “A park or pleasure ground” and that it is to be held by the trustees for the “recreation and enjoyment of the public”. At the end of Section 1 of 1881, the word “use” is introduced; but that does not at all vary the matter. The park alias the pleasure ground, is to be used for recreation
and enjoyment; and therefore, I think, in no other manner; not for general purposes of profit, or utility, however great the prospect of these may be. A trustee cannot go beyond his “express trust at least cannot do anything inconsistent with it.”

“Nobody, I suppose, would wish to deny,–everybody would maintain,–the very great utility, in this province; of a well-organized, well-directed Agricultural Association. As regards both the internal and external relations of the Province, and within and without the Dominion, it might, and almost necessarily would, be of great public interest and utility. I shall not waste a word on that. But so would a University be of great public interest and utility; or a Sanatorium for our fleets in the Pacific and China Seas; or barracks for a garrison of soldiers; or a proper Lunatic Asylum. So is a cemetery a useful and indeed a necessary public matter. For, any or all of these, Beacon Hill would afford an admirable site. But none of these are objects of pure recreation. None of these institutions but would be out of place in a pleasure ground. All establishments addressing themselves to profit and utility are, I think, excluded by the terms of the trust, except the profit and utility to be derived (and it is great) from open air recreations, such as may be carried on in a public park or pleasure ground, and such buildings and erections as are ancillary to public recreations there. That according to my present view, is the clear reiterated intention of the declarations of trust contained in the Acts of Parliament: and the word “buildings” used in Section 4 of the Act of 1876 must be confined to such buildings as are consistent with the main objects of the Act.”

“There was one case cited, viz The Attorney General v Corporation of Sunderland (L.R. 2 Ch. D.63) which deserves attention, because it decisively shows how utterly the defendants, the Corporation of Victoria, have misunderstood their powers and their duties. They do not appear to have reflected that trustees are invested with large powers of ownership over trust property, not in order that they may deal with it as their own, but that they may fulfill their obligation; which if they omit or transgress they may be restrained and often made personally liable” ….


It suggests therefore that the Vancouver Exhibition Association and or P.N.E. incorporated as an Agricultural Society is ultra vires the trusts for the conditions and trust of the Corp. of Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park appear to he identical to the Hastings Park trusts. It appears to suggest even further that the constitution of the Ex. Assoc. goes even further into breaches of those trusts by promoting produce, wares, goods, merchandise, mechanical inventions, painting, statuary, carvings, hobbies, crafts, as well as promoting mineral, fishing, forest, industrial and other resources of the country. Clearly all good utilities but I suggest they have no place in a public park.

It is also clear that the statement “not for profit or utility” appears to indicate-that sales of goods for profit would be ultra vires. It appears to suggest also that profit making sport bodies would follow this same condition:

Finally I would like to point out the fact that at the time of the original lease to the Ex. Assoc. by the Corporation of the City of Vancouver the City had in place a 40 acre park known as South Park or Clark Park given to the City of Vancouver on the 21st of February 1889 by a Mr. C.J. Clark of Toronto .

And the trusts terms stated:

“The same shall be used continuously and only for the purpose of a park or public recreation place and that games and athletic sports of all kinds may be permitted thereon, and also the holding of fairs, industrial and horticultural displays, exhibitions of natural products, manufacturers’ machinery or works of art or for any other public purpose which shall be for the benefit of the citizens of Vancouver”.

Here clearly was a park in place for the City to use for the very purposes the Ex. Assoc. wanted and it would not violate the terms of the trust.

With the population being in the low thousands at that time it was certainly sufficient for the purpose and with land available in the near area it could easily have been expanded. A road, Clark Drive, skirting the not yet filled in False Creek was in place–a condition the doner had required of the City.

There are many more facts to be laid on the subject but I do not propose to elaborate any further at this time.

An excellent book produced by the Hastings Sunrise Action Council entitled, “Inside Hastings Sunrise” will be included with this release. There are some errors and I do not always agree with some of their observations but it is one of the most authoritative books to date on the problems regarding Hastings Park (Ex. Park) and its immediate area. Pages 41 to 49 details, (a) ‘”The History of the P.N.E. and (b) pages 51 to 55 describe “Contemporary P.N.E.”

They have been kind enough to donate these books for your dissemination.

Especially read pages 31 to 39 for this is one of the main reasons for me laying this information before the Attorney General, i.e. where the average standard for local parks is 3.0 acres per 1,000 population and they have this standard where the higher income families live and where park use is less whereas we in the Hastings Sunrise Area have 1.5 acres per 1000 population and where the park use is 50% more per population.

If by this information to the Attorney General Hastings Park is restored to its proper use, we will then reach this 3.0 acres per 1000 population average.

Before I close I would like to remark on one facet of the case that bothers me and I am sure yourselves. To undo a wrong that has been done to the citizens of Vancouver or to any individual for that matter is a fine thing I believe. My parents have taught me to believe in justice and I believe the system we live under today is the finest judicial system in the world: if I didn’t I wouldn’t be doing what I am now doing.

However, I have compassion for my fellow man too–for those dedicated P.N.E. Directors who were attempting to develop our province–and to the fate of the people who work for the P.N.E. Sure, we have suffered in this area from the encroachments of the P.N.E.; our neighborhood has steadily deteriorated from their ever expanding facilities–but it leaves me no joy to attempt to right what I believe is a wrong and create new problems for others.

With the creation of a new stadium proposed for False Creek would it not be viable to have a slow restoration of the park in which they could participate and also why could not the P.N.E. be given the lease of running the new stadium thus keeping these employees with their skills intact. The Coliseum and the Race Track could be left in place, although I believe they are ultra vires the trusts.

A wise and sane judiciary could arrange a land swap in this respect. The old grant only went as far east as Rupert Street and additional land has been acquired by the P.N.E. to Cassiar Street in order to put in the Empire Stadium. Of course this land would not equal the acreage that the Coliseum and the Race Track occupy but additional acreage could be added by land fill and acquisition outside the present perimeter of the New Brighton Park.

This would leave these institutions under the control of the P.N.E. with the revenue drawn from the Track intact to the City and the Government and those employees still in place.

It has already been suggested that the Agricultural Dept. should be moved to Cloverdale or Langley. The P.N.E. could assume the responsibility of running that too, thus in essence having three stores to run instead of one. If the city and the Province and the P.N.E. are to grow, it certainly seems to me to be a very viable option with new jobs created and new institutions in their proper place for the future and a public park restored to its rightful purpose.

As one citizen I am a lone voice, but if you in the media consider it has merit and I hope you will, then I rely on you to raise your very powerful voice and inform the people, our city fathers, the P.N.E. and the Government of its possibilities.

Thank you,

Guy R. Faint

[Any of the foregoing statements except for the actual quotes shown between quotation marks are my own and are issued without prejudice and are published in good faith for the purposes of seeking remedy or redress for what I believe to be a public wrong.]

As a result of Faint’s efforts, in 1982, then Attorney General, Hon. Bob Williams, had to admit in front of the legislature that the PNE and Playland developments were in fact in violation of the trust. Williams said, “My letter to Mr. Faint makes it clear that the best opinion we have of what has taken place is in fact contrary to the terms of the trust under which the property was conveyed by the province to the City of Vancouver.” (Hansard, June 22, 2982) With that, the groundwork was laid for the restoration of Hastings Park.

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