Hastings Park / Pacific National Exhibition Master Plan

Vancouver, British Columbia

Photo Credit: PFS


Research by: Nicole Brekelmans 

Edited by: Samantha Miller 

Case study compiled in 2019



Project: Hastings Park / Pacific National Exhibition Master Plan

Type of Urban StrategyEcological Infrastructure 

Type of ProjectPark Rehabilitation 

LocationVancouver, British Columbia

Date Designed/Planned: 2009

Construction Completed Ongoing

DesignerPFS and Forrec Limited 



The Hastings Park / Pacific National Exhibition Master Plan aims to transform the current park into a greener space used for year-round activities such as sport, recreation, and community and cultural events. The new identity and master plan of Hastings Park included many years of analysis, changes, developments, and evolutions, resulting in a design that creates a balance between the park’s different seasons and functions. The new vision of the aims to renew the park through the emphasis of long-term sustainability and natural habitats, while still celebrating the site’s rich history and culture, providing a dynamic park for both local residents and visitors. (City of Vancouver, 2011). 



The Hastings Park / Pacific National Exhibition Master Plan is a response to the poor conditions that the park adopted after operating and maintaining an annual fair and horse racing track on-site for many years. Although the park gained visitors, it also increased in hard-surfaces and vehicular traffic. A Master Plan was initiated to rehabilitate and renew the park in response to the relocation of the annual fair. However, when the relocation plans fell-through, the Master Plan required a new strategy of both renewing and greening the space, while still accommodating the fair within the space. This resulted in a multi-functional and flexible master plan for the park, including plazas, gardens, and ecological corridors, to provide visitors coming for the park, the fair, as well as nature using the site for habitats. (City of Vancouver, 2011)


The estimated cost of the project’s construction is $208,600,000. The project will require funding through partnerships with the city, province, and possibly other organizations. The operational costs of the park will require funding as well, and will also be supplemented through the revenue from Playland (City of Vancouver, 2011).


Hastings Park is the second largest park in the City of Vancouver at 62 hectares of land. The Park is located in the northeast corner of Vancouver and is surrounded by major roadways such as McGill Street, Hastings Street and Renfrew Street. The past conditions of the site was dominated by impermeable hard-surfaces from roads, parking, and plazas. The site included internal and external connections and trails for vehicles, pedestrians, bikes, however the site proved to be in need of additional and improved connections for nearby residents and locals, which is addressed in the new developments and master plan. The initial site condition also included two separate operational modes based on the season: “Park Mode” and “Fair Mode” depending on the mode, the Hastings Park would function very differently as well as attracting different types and amounts of people. The division of the park created a disconnection of the park’s components and led to issues with accessibility within the park. The previous breakdown of the site’s land use gave high priority to the parking and roads, providing 25% of the land to the vehicles while only 18% of the land being the actual park space. The proposed master plan aims to drastically change this land use relationship by giving 49% of the land to the park, and reducing the parking and road land use to 6%. This new relationship would also aid in the ecological functions of the site, by reducing hard surfaces and day lighting streams and corridors that were previously under bridges used for on-site vehicles. (City of Vancouver, 2011)


Hastings Park was established as a recreational and public park by the province of British Columbia to the City of Vancouver in 1889. 3 years after, the park introduced a horse racing track into the park which is still in operation today. In 1907, the Vancouver Exhibition Association, now called the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), was founded and brought an annual fair into the park beginning in 1910. The seasonal park of Happyland, later renamed to Playland, became a major onsite attraction and brought in crowds up to 1.3 million annually. During the 1990s, it was decided that the fair had outgrown the Hastings Park site and was moved to a new site in Surrey. This removal of the fair initiated a restoration plan of the park, to renew the fair site and other areas in the park through the reintroduction and restoral of natural and ecological features. However, the restoration plan of Hastings Park had to adapt significantly when the ownership and management of the PNE was transferred leading to Playland being placed back onto the site. The new approach of Hastings Park involved the integration of Playland and the Park, requiring further planning to create a proper balance of the two elements along with the previous plan of greening the park. In 2010, the final master plan was created by PFS in partnership with the City of Vancouver. (City of Vancouver, 2011)


A vision was established early on in the planning process to give purpose to the design and provide an idea of what the future of Hastings Park holds: 1.Hastings Park is a place of renewal and transportation 2.Hastings Park is a place of celebration 3.Hastings Park is a place of connections 4.Hastings Park is a destination for local residents and visitors These four statements view the future of Hastings Park as a place that provides for the environment, for the community, and for the local economy through a sustainable long-term strategy, plan, and design. (City of Vancouver, 2011)


The Master Plan by PFS was comprised of three phases: Phase 1: Inventory and Analysis This first phase included analysis and an inventory of the current elements on the site, taking into account both physical and business assets that have the possibility of being saved and used in the new model. Phase 2: Planning Directions The second phase involved developing the planning concept of the park by breaking down the entire park into small more manageable parts. This resulted in a series of eight themes used to reference throughout the design and planning process: 1. Sustainability - Green buildings, Zero Waste, Access to Nature, Clear Water, Local Food, Stormwater Management, Habitat Restoration, Energy Planning, Sustainable Park Operations, Accessibility, Safety and Lighting 2. Connections and Greenways - Destinations, Paths, Amenities, Traffic Circulation, Visuals, Internal and External Connections 3. Park Spaces - Festival Plaza, The Allee, Miller Plaza, Parade, Italian Gardens, Skateboard Park, The Green, Sanctuary, Festival Meadows, Garden’s Garden, Creekway Park, Daylighted Stream Corridor, Amphitheatre, Windermere, Belvedere, Empire Fields, Plateau 4. Playland - Expanding and creating defined boundaries, Access, Layout, Circulation 5. Heritage Resources - Future Adaptive Reuses of buildings previously on-site 6. New Flexible Building Space 7. PNE Operations, Parking and Vehicle Access 8. Community Park and Community Centre Phase 3: Illustrative Concept Plan The eight themes were used as a framework for the Hastings Park conceptual plan and were expanded further, focusing on the details and smaller design elements. The concept plan is a long-term strategy of 20-25 years for the Hastings Park, focusing on the ecological components, operational modes, as well as business plans with early implementation ideas. the concept plan also involved concept development principles such as establishing strong pedestrian and vehicle organization as well as creating a distinct identity for the park. (City of Vancouver, 2011)


The Hastings Park Master Plan required a diverse range of professionals to allow the design of the park to be well-balanced and thorough. The consulting and design team of the park included PFS as the lead designers and plannings, Forrec Ltd. as specialists in planning and design, AECOM as consultants in economic research, as well as the City of Vancouver, Board of Parks and Recreation, and PNE Staff. The different perspectives from each member provided the master plan with necessary information and skills to seamlessly execute the design of the park. (City of Vancouver, 2011)


Hastings Park – The Sanctuary. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pfsstudio.com/project/hastings-park-the-sanctuary/ Hastings Park – Sports Park. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pfsstudio.com/project/hastings-park-sports-park/ Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, & Forrec Limited. (2011, January). Hastings Park/Pacific National Exhibition Master Plan(Rep.). Retrieved July 18, 2019, from City of Vancouver website: https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/HastingsParkPNE-doco-MasterPlan.pdf


Habitat: Areas within the park will be rehabilitated to ensure prime ecological function and the development of diversity for urban wildlife. These spaces include the Sanctuary, the daylighted stream corridor and the Creekway. These landscapes are anticipated to naturally adapt and change allowing for these spaces to become independent, and self-maintaining. Urban Park Spaces: The park will include multiple landscapes such as meadows, gardens, and greenways to provide places for activities such as sports, and lounging for visitors. Urban Plazas: Urban plazas will provide areas for large events such as markets, festivals, concerts, or the annual fair, as well as more casual every-day use by pedestrians and visitors. The plazas include furniture, lighting, water features and connections to nearby buildings. (City of Vancouver, 2011)


The main challenge for the Hastings Park Master Plan was creating a flexible design for the space to accommodate for both the Park and Fair. Along with accommodating for both of these spaces and functions, both “modes” of the park included varying amounts of people creating accessibility issues that had to be considered when designing boundaries and internal connections. (City of Vancouver, 2011)


The Hastings Park Master Plan was first established in the 1990s when it was decided that the annual fair Playland had outgrown the site and needed to be relocated to a larger space. The relocation of the fair gave the park an opportunity to start a large project of renewing the site that had become dominated by roads and hard surfaces into a green and sustainable space, accommodating both the community and the environment. However, the fair moved back to Hastings Park due to the inability of moving it to another larger site. This led the City of Vancouver to adapt their current master plans to accommodate the fair within the park along with the new ecological and sustainable components. This required further site analysis and community outreach to provide the city with the best solution for the park. The new and final plan proposed by PFS includes flexible land-use and functions to create balance within the space while also emphasising sustainability and ensuring long-term. (City of Vancouver, 2011)