Literature Review

The literature review on the story of Pacific Spirit Park introduced us to various stakeholders who were involved in the establishment of the park. The key stakeholders include the University of British Columbia, the government, developers as well as residents and environmental groups. However, the role of the Musqueam, as a rightsholder of the Park, was either not mentioned or inadequately discussed. The concurrent narratives of various stakeholders from literature review are discussed below.

University of British Columbia

As of the 1930’s the University of British Columbia used logging of the UEL as a means of generating funds in hopes to decrease student tuition. However there was a realization that logging not only did not generate sufficient funds for the university but it also severely degraded the environment as issuance of logging permits were improperly managed and out of control in Vancouver. With every new timber sale the timber quality deteriorated. As a consequence, in 1943, Minister of Lands prohibited cutting of timber in this area without UEL authority. Once the land was no longer used for logging UBC’s interest turned to the development of the land. UBC president and the UBC Board of Governors supported development of the UEL “to yield maximum benefits”. However, the UBC faculty and students voiced their opinions saying that the views of the UBC president on the issue does not represent theirs. They valued the area as a great resource for education and research; however, the provincial government had the final decision about the park.


Despite the lands that Pacific Spirit Park reside on being called the University Endowment Lands (UEL), UBC was not in the position to make the final decision for the area. Instead it was under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Government. In 1972, the NDP government announced that the UEL woodlands is being considered for development. This prompted a citizens’ committee—the Dunbar-West Point Grey Endowment Lands committee later called the Endowment Lands Regional Committee—to submit a brief to the government in 1973. This led to what was considered to be a “partial victory,” as just before the elections, the NDP put a 90-hectare portion of the park under preservation, including Camosun Bog—an environmentally-sensitive area on the edge of where PSP is situated today.

After the elections, the new provincial government, Social Credit Party, ignored the efforts of local residents and environmentalists to protect the UEL woodlands. Meanwhile, Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and City of Vancouver were supporting them. The GVRD, specifically the Parks Department, showed their support by preparing a proposal for development of the park to present to the provincial government. Additionally, Iva Mann, the GVRD director for Electoral A, campaigned vigorously for establishing the park and raised $750,000 in government grants. In collaboration with the GVRD, the City of Vancouver also supported the advocates of the park. Particularly, Vancouver City Council and Vancouver Parks Board showed support for the Endowment Lands Regional Committee. Finally in 1988, the provincial government, under the Social Credit party, made the final decision and Pacific Spirit Regional Park was officially established in 1989.


No longer used for logging as of 1943, according to Journal of the Town Planning Institute, the UEL woodlands were considered vacant land that would be “valueless unless the people occupy them”. In the years to come, developers believed that the UEL should be developed with medium-density housing to optimize returns from the land. Developers believed that this development plan is a “real-estate scheme” driven by “humanism” and for a good public cause, but not “for the profit of a group of land speculators caring for nothing but the sale of the land to the highest bidder”. It was also believed that the development of the lands for residential purposes would be a “surer, safer and earlier return for an endowment fund than any other method,” according to a resident engineer and agent, H. L. McPherson. The developers’ strong support for housing development led to complaints and resistance of the local residents as they valued the natural state of this land.

Residents and Environmental Groups

As mentioned above, one of the most influential organizations in the story was the Endowment Lands Regional Committee. They were officially established in 1974 and consisted of the members of the neighbourhood council. They submitted briefs to the government, made representations to municipal governments, sponsored public meetings, lobbied members of the provincial legislature, and gathered thousands of signatures. Much of their effort was done in collaboration with UEL Trail Riders, a horseback riding club. These efforts were not limited to lobbying, campaigning, protesting and so on. They also physically tended the area to enhance its resources and bring out the park’s potential. For instance, UEL Trail Riders helped with trail construction and improvement by erecting signs and setting up large maps. Additionally, GVRD Parks Department assisted these groups to raise public awareness through their Special Events Program, which designed one-day events at the park. In essence, the local residents and environmentalists treated the area as a park until it became a park.

Environmental groups opposed the proposed intensive development of UEL and pushed for the park to be established. Many environmental groups were in support of the park being protected on the basis of conservation in order to enhance wildlife areas. Many of them were not in support of the planned community parks including the Sierra Club. Many groups argued that the Camosun Bog be strictly protected, their support inevitably aided in its formal protection in 1973. However most of the environmental disregarded the Musqueam such as the Vancouver Natural History and Federation of BC Naturalists.


Since the European contact, the Musqueam were forced to adapt to the changing landscape of once densely wooded area. They have consistently attempted to claim rights in this area as logging and development disturbances have made it challenging for them to practice their traditions, which are closely tied to the land. Up till the establishment of the park in 1989 the Musqueam submitted two land claims; one in 1977 and again in 1984. None of these land claims were formally resolved. Because of the ambiguity and inadequacy of the information on the Musqueam in literature review, our group started to look for the truth elsewhere.