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Proposal – Queen Elizabeth Park

Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
Planning Committee Meeting
March 6, 2007

Piet Rutgers introduced John Norton and Richard Henriquez to present a concept proposal to build a privately developed and operated observation tower adjacent to the Bloedel Conservatory and the Plaza at Queen Elizabeth Park. He told the Committee that the views have been progressively obscured by the natural growth of the trees on the site, and that the idea came forward several years ago when the Plaza was designed but was not pursued at that time due to the expense.

John Norton told the Committee that the highest point in Vancouver is located in Queen Elizabeth Park at the top of Little Mountain, and the spectacular view it offered in the past is an asset to the Park Board that has been lost as the trees have grown. He told the Committee that he has reviewed the business case for building an observation tower and marketing it as
Vancouver’s “highest point”, and believes that it is an economically viable proposal that could create a very popular attraction and draw large numbers of people, especially if it is completed by 2010. He would like the Park Board to ask for public input on the concept of an observation tower in Queen Elizabeth Park.

Richard Henriquez explained that the idea for an observation tower began when the Plaza in Queen Elizabeth Park was designed. He presented a concept plan that he recently expanded from earlier sketches, described its features, and noted that although the height in this concept is 150 feet, it will depend on projections of the tower’s life span because trees grow several feet each year.

Piet Rutgers summarized the process that would be followed if the Park Board supports the concept. A Request for Proposals (RFP) will be sent out and responses reviewed and evaluated. Staff would prepare recommendations on the selection of a proposal for the Board’s approval. He noted that the schedule is very tight for completion by 2010.

Discussion
- A member of the Committee asked about fees for entering the proposed tower. The delegation said comparable attractions in the USA charge $10, and noted that many people will be attracted to the highest spot in Vancouver and tour bus business will increase significantly.
- The Committee discussed the integration of the proposed observation tower with the park and asked questions about much parkland would be displaced, shading from the tower, and views of the tower from the rest of the park. A Commissioner suggested that cutting down some trees is an alternative way to recover the view. The delegation noted that cutting trees will provide peek-a-boo views but not reclaim the spectacular views that this location used to offer.
- A Commissioner asked the delegation if a business plan identifying potential revenue opportunities for the Park Board has been developed. The delegation explained that when the Board approves the concept and sends out an RFP, they will include their business plan in their proposal. They expressed confidence that the concept is economical and will be beneficial for both parties.
- The Committee discussed the reduced use of this area of the park and loss of revenues due to recent GVRD, Park Board, and Canada Line construction projects, and acknowledged the need to find ways to encourage people to return to the park.
- A Commissioner identified the contrast between the contemplative nature of the tai chi arbors, the Plaza and the Bloedel Conservatory, and the activity levels of a busy tourist attraction, and asked if this is an appropriate use for the park. A member of the Committee recalled the diverse public response to the development of the Bloedel Conservatory and said that the tower concept should be put out to the public.
- The Committee discussed the integration of an observation tower with the Bloedel Conservatory and the Plaza. The delegation explained that there is not enough time before 2010 to assess and address the technical challenges of the Conservatory.
- Staff explained that a public process on the merits of an observation tower could include these elements: on site signage, a website, stakeholder and user outreach, and an open house. Staff would then report to the Board on the results of the process.

Next Steps
The Planning Committee requested that staff prepare a report on the concept of an observation tower at Queen Elizabeth Park to be submitted to the Board


Next Meeting
The meeting adjourned at 8:15 pm. The next meeting is scheduled for March 20, 2007.








Queen Elizabeth Park tower causes concern

News Features By Matthew Burrows
Publish Date: April 12, 2007

Long-time Riley Park resident and citizen watchdog Ned Jacobs says he is worried that a proposed private observation tower will "severely compromise" the values of Queen Elizabeth Park.

The 56-year-old told the Georgia Straight he has lived in the area since 1980 and was initially drawn to the neighbourhood by the park. Now he is concerned that a potentially "privatized view" from a 40-metre planned observation tower will alter the dynamic of the 53-hectare park and the highest point (at 150 metres) in Vancouver.

"At 10 feet per storey, it's 15 storeys," Jacobs, a part-time Vancouver park board outdoor worker, said of the tower. "The park board is taking this to a whole new realm. This is like putting a balloon up in the sky. The people down below will be like little sticks in the park there. And you can imagine it in the neighbourhood, where you've been used to having this rounded contour of a hill with trees. Suddenly there will be some sort of tower up there."

At the March 6 meeting of the park board planning committee, delegations identified by meeting minutes as Vancouver architect Richard Henriquez and John Norton, both of Observation Tower Inc., explained their idea for an observation tower and presented a concept plan for a "privately developed and operated observation tower adjacent to the [Bloedel] conservatory". The tower, it was claimed, would increase tour-bus business significantly and possibly charge an entrance fee of about $10.

Commissioners–with NPA commissioner Heather Holden as committee chair–allowed the tower concept to come before the full park board, which Henriquez told the Straight is happening "at the end of the month". Park board communications director Joyce Courtney said the date–likely the April 30 meeting at park board headquarters on Beach Avenue–could only be confirmed "one week before", once the April 16 board meeting is done.

Jacobs said he has "lifelong experience of planning and civic issues", thanks to his late mother, famed Toronto urban-affairs expert and author Jane Jacobs. Ned Jacobs said the privatization of part of the Queen Elizabeth Park plaza would be "expensive and unnecessary" and would have no supporting "subway" infrastructure to back it up when traffic increases to the area.

Jacobs said he has helped develop a cheaper "public" alternative to Henriquez's model, with no admission fee, that he claims would clear the tree line currently impeding clearer views of the downtown core.

"Jane called P3s 'monstrous hybrids' of governance and commerce," he said. "Such arrangements can only lead to a conflict of interest. A private company is involved in a monopoly situation, and this could conflict with the public interest over things like extra parking."

NPA commissioner Korina Houghton told the Straight the board "had some concerns" regarding size and the issue of it being in Queen Elizabeth Park. "Frankly, I wouldn't want to see anything too massive."

Independent commissioner Allan De Genova told the Straight he thought the tower looked "edgy" and that "some work still needs to be done". But he said he is not concerned about the potential P3.

"It's private dollars coming in to bring something up to a level I think we need," De Genova said. "To do the [renovation at] Bloedel Conservatory as a whole is half a million dollars. It's been a sinkhole for us. It's old and it's tired and maybe we should be revisiting that."

In closing, Jacobs referred to a May 31, 1999, park board meeting where commissioners–including then–NPA commissioner De Genova–unanimously approved adoption of the Queen Elizabeth Park long-range vision. In the guiding-principles section of the report, they agreed to ensure that any new park buildings or spaces are of a multi-use design and "cater to a variety of different park users and activities". The report also expressed the need to "ensure that all commercial ventures are consistent with this long-range vision for the park".
Publish Date: April 12, 2007
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Interesting to note that a observation tower was proposed in 1971 for downtown with a height of 244 metres (800 feet). The project was scrapped when it appeared likely the city approval process would be a lengthy one due to the public outcry over design and height issues. Had the "The Spire" been built according to plans it would have been the tallest free-standing tower in Canada until CN Tower was completed in 1976.


The PNE also had an observation tower for eleven years, built in 1968. It was 101 metres (303 feet) tall.

 

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i think it's a great idea

but they prolly don't need to build it that high. heck, all you need is a 40-50 ft platform and i'm sure the view would be fantastic. as well it would be high enough that the trees would never obscure the view.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The thing is trees grow several feet each year.....it's one of the reasons why Queen Elizabeth Park is not such a huge tourist attraction anymore with trees covering much of the view we still had 10 years ago.

So the question really is, how much taller will the trees grow? And perhaps, built 70 feet higher than that
 

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thats fairly recent - when i was there last summer downtown and the west was pretty much not visible at all

i remember going in the 80's and you could see the whole west end, the ocean etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thats fairly recent - when i was there last summer downtown and the west was pretty much not visible at all

i remember going in the 80's and you could see the whole west end, the ocean etc.
wait for a really hot, dry week....throw a cigarette off that viewpoint in the photo into the trees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is pretty cool:







or even better, instead of a tower, how about a London Eye-like ferris wheel:
 

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^^ Thanks for the old PNE pics. Forgot just how great the PNE used to be. Also, any one of those (other than the really tall structures) would be a great addition to QEP. But whatever they decide, a strong design statement is a must.l
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Tower proposed for Queen E. Park

Linda Nguyen, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, May 25, 2007

VANCOUVER - The Vancouver park board will vote Monday on a proposal for a privately funded tower in Queen Elizabeth Park aimed at revitalizing the tourist attraction.

Park commissioner Loretta Woodcock said she's still unsure what impact the tower, which would include an observation deck, might have on the surrounding community.

"My initial feeling is that I'm not enthusiastic about it," she said Thursday night. "But . . . public consultation could tell me if there's an issue with the community [about this]. Then it's an issue with me."

A report going to the board outlines plans from a private group called Observation Tower Inc. to construct and operate a viewing tower adjacent to the plaza and the Bloedel Conservatory.

The group put forward a design for a $10-million project, but did not specify the height of the tower.

The report going to the board says that if the idea of such a project is approved, the board would consider bids from other groups who want to fund and design the new tourist attraction.

If it's approved, a public consultation will be held online and at the local community centre to solicit feedback before the project proceeds.


"The essence of the proposal is to restore the views without significantly modifying the Little Mountain woodlands and revitalize a tourism asset," says the proposal.

A portion of proceeds from ticket sales to the tower would go to the park board.

Woodcock said one of her concerns is whether the board would be left with financial responsibility if the tower cannot be maintained privately in the future.

According to the proposal, Queen Elizabeth Park used to be a "must-see" destination because it was the highest point in the city of Vancouver at 153 metres (501 feet) above sea level.

Trees have since grown up, blocking the view.

The proposal said the number of visitors to the Bloedel Conservatory in the park dropped from 119,000 in 2001 to 65,000 in 2006.

But Woodcock said there's still plenty of reasons for tourists to go to the park even without an observation deck.

"Although we want more tourist dollars, the deck isn't a priority right now," she said.

[email protected]


© The Vancouver Sun 2007
 

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There's a pic in the hard copy edition of the Vancouver Sun - but not on line - looks good - somewhat Calatrava-esque but tamer.

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/...=bcb0466a-8e9e-4483-abff-5c22c8322cd8&k=88904

Park board to study $10-million tower dream
Queen Elizabeth Park structure would stand 50 metres high
Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra, Vancouver Sun
Published: Saturday, May 26, 2007

VANCOUVER - Architect Richard Henriquez dreams of building a $10-million observation tower at Queen Elizabeth Park that will jut more than 50 metres into the sky and allow an unrestricted panoramic view of the city.

His proposal, which goes before the Vancouver park board on Monday for an initial review, has been years in the making. If it's approved, the board will consider bids from other groups to fund and design the new attraction.

As well, a public consultation will be held to solicit feedback.

Henriquez, of the architectural and urban design firm Henriquez Partners Architects, says he thought of the idea when he was hired years ago to do the design for the plaza at Queen Elizabeth Park, and he thought "it looked unfinished."

So he proposed to the park board of the time that an observation tower be built then. But nothing came of that idea.

"It sat for years," he says, until recently when he discussed the idea with John Norton, a local developer and lawyer. Together, they formed Observation Tower Inc. and made a new proposal to the current board for a tower.

Queen Elizabeth Park is Vancouver's highest point at 153 metres above sea level. But the site, which has afforded a panoramic view of the city since the park's inception, has been lost due to the growth of trees.

The park board agrees. A staff report on the tower proposal states that the park has seen a decline in tourists, and something needs to be done to "restore the views".

The report says the number of visitors to the Bloedel Conservatory has declined from 119,000 visitors in 2001 to 65,000 visitors in 2006. Of these, 28,000 were tour bus entrants in 2001, and in 2006, the number was 940.

It says further that the board needs "to find ways to encourage people to return to the park."

"There is a combination of factors for the decline in the number [of tourists]," says board vice-chair Korina Houghton, including construction of the Canada Line.

But if the tower proposal is approved, she says, the board is expecting some "strong opinions" from the public.

A public review process will include on-site signage, a website, stakeholder and user outreach and an open house.

If approved, the tower will be built next to the plaza and conservatory. But before that happens, the board will consider bids from other groups who may want to fund and design the proposed tourist attraction.

The company that submits the winning bid will bear the cost of the tower's construction and operation.

A business model has yet to be finalized, but an admitting fee of $10 has been proposed, which is comparable to similar attractions in the United States.

A portion of proceeds from ticket sales would go to the park board as well.

[email protected]

© The Vancouver Sun 2007
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The QE Park observation tower design:
 

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Hmm...not bad. I wonder if a complete 360 design might be better but I guess you can walk to the back bit to the supporting beam to get southerly views anyway. Maybe one of the floors could be a complete 360 disc.
 

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So wait, how substantial is this tower supposed to be and not just in terms of height? Is it just an observation tower or something akin to a short/midget harbour centre?

I would love to see something there to make QE actually worth going but it's so obvious opposition to it is simply a case of NIMBYism. I mean, how obvious would it be anyway if you're in the neighbourhood - would you even be able to see it (not that it would obstruct your views anyway).
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·






Queen Elizabeth tower grows even taller

Straight Talk By Carlito Pablo
Publish Date: November 1, 2007

The proposed observation tower at Queen Elizabeth Park has grown taller since proponents presented the concept to members of the Vancouver park board last March.

Long-time Riley Park resident Ned Jacobs told the Straight that a flyer from the park board indicated that the tower will now rise to at least 56 metres from the ground. "I think they feel they need extra capacity," Jacobs said, referring to private proponent Observation Tower Inc. "I suspect that this will even go higher to 20 storeys or 200 feet [60-61 metres] with its spire."

Vancouver architect Richard Henriquez of Observation Tower Inc. stated at the March presentation that the tower could be as tall as 46 metres. According to the park board's Web site (www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/parks/info/planning/qetower/index.htm ), the proposed design will feature three viewing decks at 47, 52.5, and 56 metres reachable by elevator.

The board will hold public consultations on November 10 and 20 on the $10 million project, which would be privately operated and charge fees. The structure will also have a gift shop and a snack bar.

COPE commissioner Spencer Herbert questions the idea of imposing a fee to get a view over the city. "We are a public park board and not a private park board," Herbert told the Straight . "There are a number of options wherein we can put a platform that allows people to have a view of the city for free. There is this fixation at the board that it has to be private."
 

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How about trimming or removing the trees blocking the current view? Way cheaper and then they could put replacements in the barren parts of QE park easily...
 

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How about trimming or removing the trees blocking the current view? Way cheaper and then they could put replacements in the barren parts of QE park easily...
Common zivan, it won't cost you anything and it will be beautiful. Good draw for tourists of the city. Other choice now is The Lookout! at Harbour Centre.
The company that submits the winning bid will bear the cost of the tower's construction and operation.
 
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