Update on Hastings Park /PNE Redevelopment
On October 4, 2010 representatives of several community organizations met at Tonari Gumi to discuss steps to ensure there would be appropriate representation of our community’s historical relationship with Hastings Park in the Plan to redevelop Hastings Park and the PNE.
As the redevelopment master plan would be presented to City Council for approval by November, 2010, organizations were aware time was of the essence for informing the City about the need for Japanese Canadian content in the master plan and that the Japanese Canadian community wished to work with the City on such a project.
On October 14, 2010 the letter reprinted below was hand-delivered to the Mayor’s office at Vancouver City Hall, following electronic copies distributed to the Mayor, City Councillors, the City Manager and the Hastings Park/PNE Master Planning Team. The Greater Vancouver JCCA Steering Committee quickly received supportive responses from City Councillors Kerry Jang and Ellen Woodsworth.
On October 18 a few community members attended a meeting to discuss and make recommendations about the Hastings Park project. Stories were shared and recommendations were offered that the public needs education about our Internment and detention at Hastings Park. Another suggestion was that the plaque about the Japanese Canadian internment installed in Hastings Park the 1980s and presently located in Momiji |Garden, needs to be more visible.
On October 23, the Greater Vancouver JCCA steering committee received information that the Mayor has forwarded our letter to Councillor Raymond Louie, the Chair of the PNE Board of Directors, to look into our requests and suggestions, and to determine how best they can be incorporated into the Master Plan and that Councillor Louie will get back to the committee on the Mayor’s behalf.
The steering committee will continue to provide updates and welcomes your feedback.
October 5, 2010
Mayor Gregor Robertson
City of Vancouver
Dear Mayor Robertson:
Re: Hastings Park/PNE Master Plan
In the last several months, the City of Vancouver has been in public consultation, presenting a Master Plan of proposed changes to a site of interest particularly to locals as a fun place—the PNE, with its Playland, and its fantastic rollercoaster, the Racecourse, and The Pacific Coliseum where more recently, the 2010 Olympic Winter Games events were hosted.
The significance of this place to Japanese Canadians dates back to 1942. But most Canadians today are not aware of what this place stood for just sixty-eight years ago.
With the establishment of the B.C. Security Commission (Order in Council No. 1666) on March 4, 1942, to “plan, supervise and direct” the “evacuation” of Japanese Canadians from the West Coast of British Columbia, Hastings Park Manning Pool was designated as a “clearing station” having ability to house up to 4,000 persons at a given time. It became the new short-term address for Japanese Canadians who with a day’s notice were forced out of their homes located in the coastal villages and towns and isolated Vancouver Island areas. They were ordered to leave their homes, carrying 150 pounds of baggage each (children, 75 pounds), to be confined here at this detention centre, under guard, before being interned to other camp sites outside of the designated 100 mile security zone before winter.
Three buildings remain at Hastings Park today of those taken over by the BC Security Commission in 1942 for this purpose. The most notorious is the Livestock Building which, emptied of its livestock, was “converted from animal to human shelter in only seven days” (Ann Sunahara, Politics of Racism), described by Muriel Kitagawa in a letter to her brother of April 20, 1942 as “impregnated with the smell of ancient manure and maggots. Every other day it is swept with dichloride of lime…but you can’t disguise horse smell, cow smell…” (This is My Own, Letters to Wes & Other Writings on Japanese Canadians, 1941-1948, ed. Roy Miki.)
With respect to the proposed renovation to Hastings Park site, the Japanese Canadian community organizations and interested individuals of Vancouver requested a meeting with Mr. Dave Hutch, the City Planner. On August 27th, he very kindly met with us and offered a detailed digital presentation of the impressive renovations being planned and proposed. The City’s proposals reveal great concern being paid to producing a more diversified people friendly and ecologically managed site. It also appears no doubt, considering the long consultation period with the public, the City hopes to respond to the various interest groups’ concerns and needs.
The areas of concern being raised by national and local Japanese Canadians are now identified and listed below, with proposed recommendations for your consideration:
1. That the remaining buildings used as part of the B.C. Security Commission’s “clearing station” (or detention centre) in 1942 be appropriately identified with a permanent signage.
2. That an interpretive centre be located within the Livestock Building (which building we understand was given heritage status by the City) so that such stories as that of Japanese Canadian experience at Hastings Park may be remembered and told.
3. The third concern raised by the participants of the meeting with Mr. Hutch is a proposal being made by the City of an erection of a Japanese Shinto gateway, the torii, to be placed at the entrance of the Momiji Garden.
(As an aside, while a torii is suggested, as a gateway into the garden area, we are wondering why, when The Italian Gardens, The Green, and The Sanctuary are all properly listed on the Hastings Park/PNE Master Plan map, there is no mention of the Momiji Commemorative Garden on this map.
The Momiji Commemorative Garden was designed and installed in 1993 by the Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association, as a place of meditation, in memory of what this place once stood for (as designated by a plaque at this site.) Located along East Hastings Street, it is currently somewhat isolated, shrouded by trees lining the walkway that leads to the Agridome and the Livestock Building. The City Plan, we understand, is to connect the various gardens in Hastings Park through walkways, leading to The Sanctuary with its large pond and stream, and to the Italian garden.)
That in replacement of the idea of a Japanese torii, the City of Vancouver commission the design of a special gateway more appropriate to commemoration of the experiences of Canadians of Japanese origin (not Japanese) in 1942.
4. That with respect to all of the above, we would appreciate your approval to meet with appropriate City staff, in any consultation process, to ensure that this history is appropriately remembered at this centre.
Your kind consideration and response to the above recommendations being made by the undersigned organizations and individuals, forming a steering committee under the leadership of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association (GVJCCA), is very much appreciated.
Chair, Greater Vancouver JCCA Steering Committee