City Council directed the Park Board to begin extensive community consultation about the future of Hastings Park. Two years of work resulted in the Hastings Park Restoration Plan, a comprehensive planning document adopted by the Park Board and City Council in 1997. It was based on the premise that the PNE would be leaving the Hastings Park site and provided for a transition of the fairgrounds to parkland.
Council and the Park Board approved the restoration of three areas: the Sanctuary, the Italian Garden and Empire Fields. Between 1998 and 2001, $13 million was invested in realizing the Restoration Plan with the completion of the Italian Gardens, the Sanctuary and Empire Fields (a total of 11 hectares (27 acres).
The Sanctuary, a verdant refuge planted in indigenous species, was completed in the summer. The Sanctuary encompasses four hectares and has a storm water retention pond and a meadow on the highland (“Windermere Hill”).
The Italian Garden (Il Giardino Italiano) was complete. Today this formal garden includes a children’s play area, a skateboard park, basketball courts, a multi-use court, bocci courts, formal flower beds and allees of trees.
Between September 2000 and September 2001, the Park Board constructed playing fields on the site of the former Empire Stadium in the southeast part of the site. The 5.5 hectare (14 acre) is known as Empire Fields.
In March 2003, the Province determined that it would no longer operate the PNE and entered into an agreement with the City for the transfer of the PNE to the City effective 1 January 2004. At that time, City Council committed to operating the PNE in its current form at least through the 2005 summer fair and directed staff to commence a public consultation process to determine the future of the PNE in Hastings Park.
Input from the public confirmed that Vancouverites supported a Hastings Park that was both green and active. Most people agreed that changes should be made to green the park and to re-invent the fair. Many but not all people supported the continuation of Playland, in a green environment.
The range of ideas were represented in the four approaches and incorporated into a report, “Hastings Park/PNE- Four Approaches for the Future”, that went to council in 2004. City Council reviewed the four approaches and directed staff to explore and further develop an approach between Option 3 and Option 4. They also asked staff to report back on the following areas:
- The relocation of the racecourse horse barns to facilitate a green connection to New Brighton Park.
- The heritage value of the Livestock building, proposed for demolition in the 1997 Restoration Plan.
- Relocation or redevelopment options for Hastings Community Centre.
2004 – 2008
By 2004, a new community visioning process for the Hastings-Sunrise community called “Help Shape the Future” was complete. With the new directions from Council and the Hastings-Sunrise community vision, staff worked to ensure that the Hastings Park planning process included ideas from the 1997 Hastings Park Restoration Plan and from the 2004 “Help Shape the Future” vision process.
On 12 July 2007, Vancouver City Council approved the Hastings Park Updated Implementation Plan and budget.
Over the next few years, the Implementation Plan developed a process and structure for the planning process. Stakeholder group was formed, technical and steering committees were established and the conceptual phasing of the plan was determined as follows:
- Inventory + Analysis: site, operations + program
- Preliminary Planning Concepts
- Detailed Master Plan
- Implementation + Phasing Plan
- Governance Plan Review
- Detailed Design of Various Phases
- Final Implementation
The City retained a consultant team (representing expertise in fairs, exhibitions, fairs, park planning, urban design, market and economic analysis) to develop the Hastings Park PNE Master Plan.
Working with the Key Stakeholder Group (representing a broad cross section of the key interests on and around the Hastings Park), City staff, and a team of consultants, project staff completed an inventory and analysis for all components of Hastings Park. Next, a series of high-level planning directions addressing the key issues within Hastings Park were developed. These planning directions and a schematic site plan formed the basis of a 12 week consultation process. In December, a Council Report describing the recommended Planning Directions of the Master Plan was approved by Council.
The Illustrative Concept Plan and Implementation Plan - the final phases of the Master Plan - were completed. The Illustrative Concept Plan formed the basis of a series of public consultation events from June to September. Based on input received, the Plan was refined and an implementation plan was developed. The final Master Plan was adopted by City Council in December 2010. Council amended the final plan to increase habitat space along the stream corridor by transferring 2 acres from the Playland expansion area to the stream corridor.