Community groups will hold a press conference on Wednesday, July 31 at 10:00 am at the Italian Gardens in Hastings Park. The groups will reveal the compelling legal basis for Park Board governance of Hastings Park. “The Vancouver Charter requires Park Board governance of all Vancouver Parks. City Council would need to decommission Hastings Park and violate its Trust agreement if they want the PNE to be permanently in charge,” said Sherry Breshears of the Hastings Community Association.
City Council will decide on the governing body for Vancouver’s second largest park at a special council meeting on Thursday, August 1, 2013. The staff recommendation is to put the PNE in charge of the entire park, but council delayed their decision after hearing concerns about the legal status from the community groups on July 24, 2013. Council also heard from commissioners on the current Park Board that voted unanimously to put Hastings Park under their control.
Until now, the City has relied on provincial legislation that enables the PNE and other businesses to operate within the public park. “The legislation only speaks to land use, it does not change the status of Hastings Park as a public park. Clearly, Council had not considered their obligations under the Charter of Vancouver regarding Park Board governance. If they adopt the recommendation for PNE governance, we will have to consider legal action,” said Breshears.
The community groups reject the compromise proposal to put Park Board only in charge of green/park spaces. “Carving up Hastings Park into Park land and PNE land is a bad idea. This would be the first step to privatizing park land. A patchwork of governance does not address the Charter requirement for Park Board to govern or the need for public accountability and accessibility,” said Breshears.
Representatives of organizations, including Italian Garden founders, will speak at the news conference. “The Italian Gardens Committee raised funds and in-kind donations in addition to the Confratellanza’s donation of $50,000 in the name of my Grandfather, the late Angelo Branca, former Park Board commissioner and BC Supreme Court Justice and BC Court of Appeal Justice. It is very disappointing to our community to see Il Giardino gated off for several months of the year and also that it has been referred to on the PNE website as the “PNE Italian Gardens” and privately rented for exclusive events. The park has been poorly maintained. This Park, and all parts of Hastings park should be governed by Park board and accessible to the community,” said Angelo Holmes, President of the Confratellanza. Nature Vancouver will also speak at the news conference about the need for Park Board control to protect and promote parkland. A recently installed fishing dock within the natural Sanctuary is now billed as a PNE attraction and has concerned many environmental groups.
Hastings Community Association, Hastings Park Conservancy and the Friends of Hastings Park have joined forces with other groups to demonstrate the wide support for Park Board governance. “Under the Park Board, the PNE will continue as a ‘Fair within the Park’. It will have a large role to play in management but the Park Board will serve the public interest and be fully accountable, as it is for every Vancouver park,” stated Breshears.
Wednesday, July 31 at 10:00am
Italian Gardens at Hastings Park (Renfrew at Triumph)
Linda Shuto: 604-255-1085, Cell: 604-842-5323
Sherry Breshears Cell: 604-440-3082