06/30/2013 23:31 EDT | Updated 08/30/2013 05:12 EDT

Hastings Park governance, commercial focus protested

Some residents who live near Hastings Park are trying to make changes to a giant sign at the corner of Hastings and Renfrew streets, and the structure behind it.

Members of the several community groups — Friends of Hastings Park, Hastings Park Conservancy and Hastings Community Association — protested Saturday in front of the large electronic sign at one corner of Hastings Park, which they said is the only advertising billboard in any of Vancouver's park.

Sherry Breshears, speaking for the Hastings Community Association, says the groups want the city's park board to be in charge of Vancouver's second-largest park.

"What we want is for governance to be under parks so that you don't have one commercial interest dominating the park," she said. "The [Vancouver] Aquarium doesn't run Stanley Park. Nat Bailey Stadium doesn't run Riley Park, and the PNE shouldn't be running Hastings Park"

Hastings Park, which is bounded by Renfrew Street, McGill Street, Highway 1, and Hastings Street, is currently governed by the board of the Pacific National Exhibition, whose members are appointed by Vancouver's city council.

The PNE, a charitable-status organization, runs the Playland amusement park, hosts a two-week annual fair, rents out space for other events throughout the year, and maintains portions of the property, which is owned by the City of Vancouver.

The Hastings Park Racecourse, which lies in the northwest corner of the park, holds a separate lease with the City of Vancouver.

City council is expected to make a decision on the governance of Hastings Park in the next two weeks.

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