Shades of Green at Hastings Park

Posted by Daniel on Dec 16, 2010 - 5 comments

The seemingly endless debate about the future of Hastings Park is settled, at least for now. On Tuesday Vancouver City Council approved a "revitalization" plan for the park which will involve an expansion of Playland, retention of the Pacific National Exhibition and a few more hectares of green space.

Hastings Parks is one of those issues that no matter how it is handled manages to leave all sides angry and disappointed. A little historical context for the uninitiated.

The park was created in 1889 when the province handed over the site to the city. David Oppenheimer, the mayor at the time, said that it would provide "a constant resort of all lovers of romantic and woodland scenery", perhaps giving rise to the idea that the park was the eastside equivalent of Stanley Park. But that was not to be.

Over time a variety of entertainment amenities colonized most of the site. These included a golf course, a racetrack, an amusement park, a football stadium, a hockey arena and, of course, the PNE, launched in 1910 as the Vancouver Exhibition.

For a while in the 1990s it looked as if the PNE was going to move to Surrey and the site returned to parkland but this moment passed and the new plan approved by Council confirms that Hastings Park will remain home to the summer fair and an expanded Playland for the foreseeable future.

That leaves many members of the surrounding community, who supported the "greening" of the park, completely unsatisfied and surely guarantees that the issue will remain contentious for years to come.

For a sense of the "green" approach to the park, visit the Hastings Park Conservancy website here. The city's website about the park is here.