Jericho Sailing Centre celebrates 40th birthday by flying Habitat flag

In May and June of 1976, the Habitat Forum at Jericho Beach captured Vancouverites' imagination as a people's event coinciding with a United Nations Habitat Conference on Human Settlements.

Spearheaded by former TV producer Al Clapp, the Habitat Forum was remembered today at the Jericho Sailing Centre when the old flag was flown for the first time since the conference ended.

Jerico Sailing Centre general manager Mike Cotter told the Straight that a guy named "Steve" gave him the flag about 10 years ago.

According to Cotter, "Steve" was 12 years old when he and a buddy shinnied up the flagpole the day after the Habitat Forum ended and retrieved both flags.

"He said, 'I'm going to keep the other one but I think you guys should have it. People will actually see it'," Cotter said.

Why fly it today? Because it's the 40th anniversary of the Jericho Sailing Centre.

Today, its supporters celebrated with six different musical groups and a barbecue.

It was party time today at the Jericho Sailing Centre.
Charlie Smith

The centre was the communications centre during the Habitat Forum.

"All the media were here and much of the planning was done within our building because most of the other buildings were really decayed at that time," Cotter said.

The anniversary also included a dedication of one of two new rescue boats.

Together, they cost $150,000, with two-thirds of that coming from the provincial government. This came after the federal government announced the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard base.

For 26 years, the mostly volunteer Jericho Rescue Team Program has operated out of the Jericho Sailing Centre.

Cotter was one of the foremost critics of shutting down the Coast Guard base.

Today, he still maintains that the Conservatives showed "bad judgement" with that decision.

"The idea of letting them manage Granville Island to me is shocking," he said. "Are they going to do for Granville Island what they did for our fisheries and what they did for our Coast Guard stations?"

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