When I think of all the demolition and destruction that we’ve put Vancouver through over the last century, it amazes me that we still have Stanley Park. It’s not from lack of trying though, developers have been trying to chip away at it for years.
I first heard of the All Seasons Park when I was flipping through Kate Bird’s new release: City on Edge. The photo, taken by Province photographer Gordon Sedawie over 46 years ago, shows a peace sign garden. As the caption explains, the site was occupied by people opposed to the development of a Four Seasons hotel and condo complex at the Coal Harbour entrance to Stanley Park.
Kate sent me the photo and some articles explaining the context.
There were three attempts to turn the 14-acre entrance to Stanley Park into a developer’s paradise. The first was by a New York developer in the early ‘60s.
The second was by a local outfit called Harbour Park Developments that bought the land in 1964 and proposed a $55 million development with 15 towers ranging between 15 and 31-storeys in height.
The third, and most promising for Vancouver City Council at least, was a plan by the Four Seasons Hotel chain to build a 14-storey hotel, three 30-storey condos towers, and a bunch of townhouses.
This was the era when Mayor Tom Campbell (1967-72) and the NPA were replacing swaths of heritage buildings with the Pacific Centre and Vancouver Centre, pushing for freeways that would knock out large parts of the city, and lobbying for Project 200, that if it had gone ahead, would have destroyed most of Gastown.
On May 30, 1971 a few dozen hippies took over the site and set up camp (coincidentally, around the same time that the District of North Vancouver was destroying many of the squatter shacks at Maplewood). The Stanley Park protesters planted maple trees and vegetables, dug a pond, and called it All Seasons Park.
They stayed for nearly a year.
Campbell issued a plebiscite where only property owners could vote. It succeeded when less than 60% voted to reject the Four Season’s plan. But while our city council was gung-ho, the plan fell apart in 1972 when the Federal government refused to hand over a crucial piece of land.
Five years later the land was annexed to Stanley Park and oddly renamed Devonian Harbour Park.
- City on Edge: A rebellious century of Vancouver protests, riots, and strikes
- The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver
- “This week in history” – Vancouver Sun, May 26, 2017
- Yippies in Love (2011)
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