Vision Vancouver blocks park board control of Hastings Park

In special meeting, city council also decides to appoint new PNE board

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      Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver caucus have denied the park board the governance of Hastings Park.

      They also rejected in a special council meeting today (August 1) a proposal to give the board control of all park or green spaces in the 62-hectare public land.

      Robertson and his Vision allies approved instead a staff recommendation that essentially retains council’s full control over the park, home of the popular summer PNE fair. They also voted to appoint a new board for Hastings Park and the Pacific National Exhibition.

      The current PNE board, whose members are appointed by council, manages the site, except for the Hastings Racecourse, which is operated by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, and the park board–run Empire Fields.

      It wasn’t a question of council’s authority to delegate governance to the park board, a similarly elected civic body. Answering queries from Green councillor Adriane Carr and Non-Partisan Association councillor Elizabeth Ball, city manager Penny Ballem stated that the city actually could do so. In a presentation to council, she stated that the Pacific National Exhibition Enabling and Validating Act passed by the provincial government in 2003 gave council "absolute discretion" with the park.

      But Ballem also said at the meeting that allowing the park board to administer Hastings Park isn’t the best option.

      On May 27 this year, Vision park-board commissioners Aaron Jasper and Trevor Loke moved a motion to the board asking council to let the park board administer Hastings Park. According to the motion, this will increase not only public access to the park but also transparency in decision-making. It was approved unanimously by the Vision-dominated board.

      NPA park commissioner Melissa De Genova noted after today’s meeting that council’s decision is a "very interesting" result.

      "I find it very interesting that the Vision park board had unanimously voted for this along with other commissioners on the board, myself, and [NPA] commissioner [John] Coupar, and their own council didn’t vote for this today," De Genova told the Georgia Straight in an interview at City Hall.

      De Genova continued: "Maybe they [Vision] need to caucus more and decide what they’re going to do ahead of time."

      Vision councillor Raymond Louie is the current chair of the PNE board. At the council meeting, he filed a motion to adopt a staff recommendation to designate a new board with specific skills.

      "This moves the issue forward in terms of the management of that site," Louie told the Straight after the meeting. "Council has decided that a refined version of the current board is appropriate."

      Louie added this aligns with a December 2010 approval by council of a $300-million master plan for the park. The plan includes the expansion of the Playland amusement facility and the building of a new convention site.

      City staff will prepare another report to council on how to implement the decision adopted today. A new board is expected to be named in 2014.

      The park board will retain control of Empire Fields.

      After her motion for park-board control of the entire park was rejected by Robertson and Vision councillors, Coun.Carr tabled another one. It was to give the park board control of the property’s Momiji Gardens, Italian Gardens, and the Sanctuary, a natural pond and marsh area, in addition to Empire Fields. This, too, was defeated by Vision.

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      16 Comments

      Forest

      Aug 1, 2013 at 7:18pm

      Unbelievable. No parks for the east end and gated communities for the billionaires on Pt. Grey Rd. Way to go Vision.

      M

      Aug 1, 2013 at 10:32pm

      Hmmm...can Vision now turn around, rezone it & a developer will build on parts of it?

      Ger

      Aug 1, 2013 at 10:40pm

      Funny, Forest, I've been to Burrard View Park, which is a quick 5 minute walk from the old Colliseum, 2 or 3 times a week this summer. It's huge, the off leash area is awesome, there's a playground at one end for the kids, and there re full washroom facilities. And each time I've been there, there have been no more than 5 people there. I'm not even exaggerating. It's a great park - you should take the extra 5 minutes to go there if you want a parks board controlled park to play in.

      Anita Romaniuk

      Aug 2, 2013 at 1:28am

      Giving governance to a PNE-dominated board is a way of decreasing accountability to the people of Vancouver,who are, ultimately, the ones who own Hastings Park. Park Board is elected and has direct accountability. Council-appointed PNE Board does not. There is to be an Advisory Committee with no teeth and as yet no clear criteria on who will be appointed to it and how. People wishing to directly address the "new" PNE Board will have to beg - I mean, ahem, "request" to be heard, with no guarantee that they will. The people of Vancouver are having their options to directly affect public policy neutered.

      park for eastside

      Aug 2, 2013 at 9:46am

      Vision Vancouver just spent over $2 millions to purchase my neighbor's house near Cambie Street to make it a dogs park. BTW, we have Douglas Park & Mount Pleasant Park just a few blocks away.

      RealityCheck

      Aug 2, 2013 at 10:19am

      I don't say it often, but this was a smart and vital decision. The Exhibition Grounds belong to everyone in Vancouver, and the Parks Board was being hijacked by the small band of whack jobs who want to end the PNE.

      If we listened to these people, there would be no PNE, no Coliseum, no Forum, no Playland, and no Race Track...things millions of people use every year. But there would be a park five people would use that would increase the home prices of these selfish people.

      Mini-Donuts forever!

      ENOUGH

      Aug 2, 2013 at 11:51am

      Years ago the city gave the residents of the area Callister Park which used to be a good venue for baseball and later car shows and demo derbies. Why do these people continue to want more parks when they don't use the ones they already have. I go by Callister twice a day and rarely see a soul there.

      the shadower

      Aug 3, 2013 at 12:06am

      city council made a great decision they have legal authority to this land is for multipurpose use land for all activities for amusement entertainment parkland.Is belong to all people of british columbia so out of town guest come to the pne.I think we should call the pne of hastings park.Good job well done vision vancouver council.

      Anita Romaniuk

      Aug 3, 2013 at 1:55am

      I wish people would stop repeating the 1990's era claim that the proponents of a Park Board-governed Hastings Park want to end the PNE and any other commercial entity in the park such as the track or rented buildings. That idea died circa 2000 when the idea of relocating the PNE elsewhere fell through and the park was turned over to the City of Vancouver shortly afterward. At the Council meeting on July 24, speaker after speaker who spoke in favour of Park Board governance reiterated their acceptance and even support for the PNE, track, etc. remaining in Hastings Park. The Park Board is answerable to all residents of Vancouver, including those who look forward to the PNE every year, go to the track, belong to groups who rent space in the buildings, and so on. The PNE is responsible for running a financially sustainable operation. If its commercial interests conflict with access to the Sanctuary or the ethos of the Italian Gardens (a rental with tarps and fences tarring its character? The PNE Italian Gardens? Really?!), guess what loses out. I trust the Park Board more than I trust the PNE to respect ALL interests.

      Donna Morgan

      Aug 3, 2013 at 8:30am

      RealityCheck...isn't Stanley Park also for all the people of Vancouver? It is governed by the Park Board, as Hastings Park should be. Between this decision and the developer-oriented Grandview Woodlands area plan and the Point Grey Rd decision, this council is becoming more and more like the NPA!