Future of Stanley Park's petting zoo land under debate

Park board commissioner Stuart Mackinnon doesn’t want the Vancouver Aquarium to get the land that will be vacated by the Children’s Farmyard at Stanley Park. Due to funding constraints, the park board is closing down the petting zoo on January 2, 2011.

The Green commissioner, who noted that he didn’t know whether the aquarium had expressed interest in the site, argues that it’s better to have the area returned to natural uses.

“I don’t think the aquarium should be expanding any further in Stanley Park for commercial ventures,” Mackinnon told the Straight in a phone interview.

The aquarium didn’t make a spokesperson available for an interview before deadline. According to its website, the tourist attraction, which features whales and other marine animals, occupies 9,000 square metres in Stanley Park.

Last December, the park board called for business plans to keep the farmyard open. A staff report dated September 10, 2010, stated that two expressions of interest were received. However, one was eventually withdrawn. The other didn’t demonstrate the required financial capability. Staff didn’t identify the two parties.

Peter Hamilton, founding director of the animal-rights group Lifeforce, claimed that the aquarium has shown an interest in the farmyard land.

“They had put in a proposal to use it, and the parks board wouldn’t tell us what the proposal was, so I have a freedom-of-information inquiry at city hall now,” Hamilton told the Straight by phone.

Like Mackinnon, Coalition of Progressive Electors park commissioner Loretta Woodcock said she didn’t know whether the aquarium was interested in the farmyard site. However, Woodcock told the Straight by phone that it “wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that the aquarium might take a look at that area”.

According to Vision Vancouver park commissioner Raj Hundal, the park board will issue another request for proposals for the petting-zoo site after the facility closes down early next year.



Bill McCreery

Sep 29, 2010 at 8:18pm

WHAT? Raj Hundal said above: "the Park Board will issue another request for proposals for the petting-zoo site after the facility closes down early next year". WHAT?!

Another Vision example of some perverse sort of logic. So, they're going to close the Farmyard, dispose of the animals, mothball the building presumably & let go the staff. What is all that going to cost? Where do the animals go?

THEN, they're going to go to another proposal call. To who? What will be different? I'm sorry, the only description of this is: CRAZY.

The Stanley Park Childrens' Farmyard is an important link in the Park Board's educational facilities. It deserves better & so do the animals. The new Park Board General Manager is, I understand, a person who can innovate, show flexibility & put in that extra effort. Why are not the Commissioners rallying & asking the new guy to show his stuff. I am convinced there are ways to improve the cash flow of this special place where children can establish important bonds with the rest of the animal world.

What's happened to the promised Pk. Bd. marketing committee? If the committee existed &, it could not find a viable solution for this problem they are not the right appointees. There's lots of room for improvement. The Park Board has, because of the huge efforts of the Friends of Bloedel & Van Dusen, been able to 'save' the Conservatory. Now, finish the job, focus on the Farmyard.

Taxpayers R Us

Sep 30, 2010 at 10:06pm

It's Vision - ten bucks says they're just making room for a bike lane. :)