Save the Forest Education Centre at Vandusen Garden in Vancouver
  • Petitioned Vancouver Parks Board

This petition was delivered to:

Vancouver Parks Board
Gregor Robertson

Save the Forest Education Centre at Vandusen Garden in Vancouver

    1. Bonny Cooke
    2. Petition by

      Bonny Cooke

      Vancouver, Canada

January 9, 2013

General Manager, Malcolm Bromley and Park Board Commissioners

Vancouver City Hall

453 W. 12th Ave.

Vancouver, BC, V5Y 1V4


Education Centre: VanDusen Botanical Garden


It has come to Heritage Vancouver’s attention that the Education Centre at VanDusen Botanical Garden is in danger of demolition or abandonment. The Education Centre is a "forgotten jewel", a 1976 donation by forestry giant MacMillan-Bloedel intended to explain the role forests play in the province's environment and economy. Known originally as MacMillan-Bloedel Place "A Walk In The Forest", it is a unique, dramatic example of modernist architecture by architect Paul Merrick, working then as chief designer for Thompson Berwick & Pratt. Sited on the edge of a reflecting pond and partially buried in a hillside, the building appears to a passerby like an ancient temple in a deep forest. Its interior itself is a forest of magnificent, tree-like cedar columns, interspersed with the trunks of real British Columbia trees, with dioramas of natural environments flowing from one part of the space to another. 

The Education Centre does not appear to be under threat because of significant maintenance issues or lack of a viable use. It is threatened by a policy that requires the removal of a building from Park Board inventory once a new building is constructed. In VanDusen's case, the new building is the new Visitor Centre. Because of cost issues during the Visitor Centre's construction, it ended up smaller than intended and the Park Board decided to retain the offices and public space in the original Floral Hall building which had been slated for demolition. According to Park Board policy some other building has to go and the only alternative seems to be the Education Centre. We understand that, according to current plans, the washrooms in the Education Centre will be retained and renovated, along with some space required for the Garden's Christmas light show, but the balance of the building will be gutted with windows removed and left exposed to the elements. It will rapidly deteriorate and become a ruin and an eyesore in one of Canada's pre-eminent and most beautiful botanical gardens. This situation raises the question of Park Board Policy regarding publicly donated property.

Given the heritage significance of this modernist building we urge the Park Board to write a Statement of Significance and present it to the City’s Heritage Commission to determine the heritage value of the building before any action is undertaken.

Yours truly,

Donald Luxton, President

Heritage Vancouver

CC Penny Ballem

Mayor Robertson and Members of City Council





Thank you Donald Luxton

Bonny Cooke

Vancouver Parks Board
Gregor Robertson, Mayor
Save the Forest Education Centre at Vandusen Garden in Vancouver

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 250 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Anita Kanitz STUTTGART, GERMANY
      • 4 months ago

      If we're destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there's got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.

      Ellen DeGeneres

    • Gregory fitzGeorge-Watts, VANCOUVER, CANADA
      • 9 months ago

      It is part of VanDusen's heritage.

    • Linda Walley VANCOUVER, CANADA
      • 9 months ago

      This building is a beautiful example of west coast style and part of our city's heritage.

    • elizabeth hobbs CHILLIWACK, CANADA
      • 10 months ago

      I believe that this is a beautiful building that should be saved. It is a distinctive style of the time it was built (I'm guessing 50-60's) and should be kept for historical reasons as well as for its beauty. I think a community needs buildings of all ages. I don't understand the modern idea that newer is better. It often is not better.

    • kathie hill SURREY, B.C., AL
      • 10 months ago

      It is a beautiful natural part of the park, far preferable to the floral hall, and people deserve to enjoy the calm peacefulness that this building and surroundings engenders.


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