At their open house, now rescheduled to Thursday, May 2nd (from original date of April 25th), the City of Vancouver will reveal their plan to turn over public parkland to the more narrow interest and business of the PNE. After a short governance review which posed three options, control by the PNE Board will be presented tonight as the best way to maintain the business centered approach to Hastings Park.
“The city has stolen this public park, and given it away to business interests. They have betrayed the original Hastings Park Trust and abandoned the public interest on the site,” said Sherry Breshears, representative of the Hastings Community Association on the Cityʼs Stakeholderʼs Advisory Group. “Now they plan to promote a tenant–the PNE–to govern the park, rather than a publicly accountable body. It is like putting the Aquarium in charge of Stanley Park.” she said.
Last week, a well attended public meeting sponsored by community groups unanimously endorsed an option to put the Park Board in charge, and based it on criteria for good governance. “The cityʼs governance review was never about good governance. It was about how to justify their predetermined conclusion that the PNE Board had to stay in control. The process was a sham and our input was ignored,” said Breshears.
The cityʼs guiding principles include the provision that Hastings Park must bring economic benefits to the City, the region and the province. “Where else must a park shoulder the burden for generating such widespread economic benefits? Beware, citizens of Vancouver, creeping commercialization may be coming soon to a park near you,” stated Breshears.
Vancouver City Council will make the final decision on the governance of Hastings Park in June. “After years of delay, there has been an enormous rush to complete the governance review in the last few months. When they adopt this plan, commercial and economic priorities will trump parkland and that has been their intent all along. They have moved from ‘A Fair within a Park’ to ‘The Fair is the Park’,” said Breshears.
City of Vancouver Open House: Thursday, May 2nd
6:00 open house, 7:00 presentation
Hastings Community Centre (Hastings and Lilloet)
Linda Shuto, H: 604-255-1085, C: 604-842-5323
Friends of Hastings Park