Council delays decision on Hastings Park to August 1st

At its meeting of July 24th (view Council video footage here), City Council deferred the decision on Hastings Park governance to a special Council meeting on August 1, 2013 at 2:00pm. The speakers list will be closed but the public is welcome to attend and hear the debate. Seventy one speakers were signed up on July 24th, but many had to leave after the meeting dragged on from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm with a one-hour dinner break.

Why did they defer? We can only speculate. There had to be some Vision councillors not comfortable with just making the decision immediately. There are several other possible reasons.

To recap, three Park Board Commissioners spoke very strongly in favour of Park Board control. Aaron Jasper, a Vision Park commissioner, said he saw no compelling reason in the report why the Park Board could not be in charge, and he stuck to his guns when questioned. John Coupar was positively eloquent and had quite an effect by listing all the achievements of Park Board (outstanding sites in Vancouver) over the years. Melissa de Genova also spoke in favour.

The community made good points in seven hours of speakers. We raised many questions about Council’s ability to appoint a governing body when the Vancouver Charter requires “parks” to be governed by the Park Board. The City has the right (through provincial legislation) to use the land as they wish. But they have not provided any legal evidence that they can change the status of the park to an “asset”. 

We also challenged their focus on management rather than governance. Adriane Carr was outstanding in putting questions that allowed many speakers to clarify and elaborate on important points. Our speakers had great visuals, great points about access, accountability and the Track and showed the issues that should have been considered in the governance review.

A good job was done by all in the community who wrote letters–they do make a difference–thank you everyone! Special thanks to the many people who waited hours for their five minutes to speak. You made a huge difference!

Pro-PNE speakers were mostly PNE employees, Little League folks and people who spoke about how much they love the Fair. There were some residents who spoke in favour of ongoing PNE governance, and one or two who think we are NIMBYs and a vocal minority. There was a lot of misinformation by speakers who spoke in favour of PNE governance: Some claimed the PNE would be gone; others thought their taxes would go up because PNE revenues would disappear; one claimed there would be no security or staff on site anymore!

In the main, the pro-PNE speakers were not speaking about governance, just what a great employer the PNE is, and how much great charitable work they do. As if this would disappear under Park Board governance!!

Council may still come back on August 1st and put the PNE in charge. They may also decide to put the Park Board in charge of the “green” areas. But at the very least, we have got them thinking, and maybe less certain that they can simply proceed with PNE governance.

Well done everyone! Our community rocks!

We still encourage community members to send very brief emails to council thanking them for taking this seriously, and reassuring them that **Park Board governance would not mean an end to the self-sustaining Fair and Playland, but it would provide a legal and objective governance** that would bring peace and good will to our community. This is an historic moment for all of Vancouver.

Following is a list of the groups, parties and organizations that formally support Park Board governance of Hastings Park: All Park Board commissioners (Vision and NPA); COPE (Committee of Progressive Electors); The Vancouver Green Party; The (new) TEAM party; Neighbourhoods for Sustainable Vancouver; Nature Vancouver; Shane Simpson MLA for Vancouver Hastings; Hastings Community Association, Hastings Park Conservancy, Friends of Hastings Park. This wide support showed that we have enormous support and are not NIMBYs or a vocal minority.

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