By Sheryl Hamilton
The Bloedel Conservatory, located atop Little Mountain in beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park, has been slated for closure by the Vision Vancouver members of the park board. The final decision regarding the future of the conservatory now rests with city council, and will be decided after public hearings are over. If city councillors, most of whom are also members of Vision, vote to close the Bloedel, then it will close as of March 1, 2010, following the Olympics.
Construction of the Bloedel, completed December 6, 1969, was funded by a $1.25-million donation from Prentice Bloedel. Based on the philosophy of R. Buckminster Fuller, the triodetic dome structure of the conservatory was an ambitious project at the time, and it seems unlikely that such a project could be undertaken by the City of Vancouver now.
The Bloedel is home to hundreds of tropical birds, many of which fly freely inside the conservatory, and tropical plants and trees from places as diverse as Africa, Vietnam, Colombia, and China. If city council decides to close the conservatory, this precious jewel will be lost to us forever, the birds will be caged, and many of the plants and trees will go to landfill. We cannot allow this to happen.
Visiting the conservatory is inexpensive, and it offers a value to low-income families and individuals that is unmatched in this city. Daycares, school groups, elderly people, and people with disabilities have all expressed sincere concern regarding the future of the Bloedel.
In two or three years, after the Olympics are in the distant past, and the economic climate has improved, we’ll be better off if we still have our conservatory. Let’s act now to save this very important part of Vancouver’s heritage.
Friends of the Bloedel formed to protest the proposed closure of the conservatory. We are a nascent nonprofit society dedicated to protecting, preserving, and improving the Bloedel. We are currently gathering public support for the Bloedel, as well as attracting capital to ensure the future of this landmark Class A heritage treasure. Formed just 12 days ago, we now have over 100 members, and an electronic petition with almost 4,000 signatures.
If you want to save the conservatory, you can tell your city council and park board that you want to keep the Bloedel open. And you can come out to a protest today (December 9) at 5:30 p.m. in front of Vancouver City Hall.
Don’t let Vision Vancouver destroy the Bloedel. Help us preserve this important part of Vancouver. Together, we can save the Bloedel Conservatory for future generations.
Sheryl Hamilton is a founding director of Friends of the Bloedel.
This week's print issue of the Georgia Straight will feature more coverage of the Bloedel Conservatory. The issue will be distributed on Thursday (December 10) around Metro Vancouver.