Vancouver city council began discussion on a master plan for Hastings Park Thursday (December 2) that proposes to make the area a “significantly greener, more public fair.”
The redevelopment proposal, which could cost up to $208 million over a 20-year period, includes plans for a bigger Playland site, construction of new buildings, parking expansion, a network of pedestrian and bike paths throughout the area, 18 acres of habitat, meadows and gardens and 16 acres of “urban plaza”.
But council members questioned what portion of the proposed expansion is actual green space.
“We’ve now astro-turfed the playing field, what’s left that’s actually green?” Coun. David Cadman asked Hastings Park project manager Dave Hutch.
Coun. Suzanne Anton questioned the expansion of the Playland site.
“To me it looks too big” she said, which was greeted with applause from the crowd of waiting presenters in the council chambers.
Georgina Nicholson, a representative of the citizens group Friends of Hastings Park, said the group is looking for a delay of six months to a year in order to allow more consultation on the proposed expansion.
“We think that the community has really not totally been heard,” she said.
Georgina Nicholson, a representative of the Friends of Hastings Park group, explained her concerns to city council over proposed redevelopment of the Hastings Park/PNE area.
Nicholson called the green spaces that have been proposed “inferior corridors” for bike riders and pedestrians.
“The problem with these spaces is they’re very close to major traffic corridors—there’s going to be noise, and there’s going to be pollution from traffic,” she told council.
Hutch told council that 26 open houses were held on the plan, with 600 questionnaires completed. Fifty six percent of survey respondents supported the overall park concept, while 34 percent opposed the plan.
Concerns that Hutch said were identified in the consultation process included a concern with the expansion size of Playland, a desire for equal investment in park space to PNE expansion, a concern about increased commercialization of the area, worries of increased traffic and noise and a call to “get on with it”.
The debate around the site is nearly 20 years old—council began discussing the location of the PNE site in the early 1990s.
In 2004, council directed staff to develop a new plan for Hastings Park and the Pacific National Exhibition that would maximize green space, include a 17-day annual summer fair and a 14-acre seasonal Playland.
Mike Jackson, the president of CUPE 1004, said the PNE has been a valuable source of employment for the workers his union represents.
“There are thousands of kids who get an opportunity to work there,” he said.
“We agree that change is good,” he added. “We see that as a great revenue generating opportunity for the city.”
Council's standing committee on planning and environment will re-convene on the proposed plan on Tuesday (December 7). A list of about 60 people are scheduled to speak on the proposal.