Crosscut Tout: Saving the Bloedel Conservatory

Heritage advocates worry about Vancouver, B.C., budget cuts and their impact on a local landmark.
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Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver, B.C.

Heritage advocates worry about Vancouver, B.C., budget cuts and their impact on a local landmark.

Despite the Winter Olympics hoo-hah, Vancouver, B.C., is not immune to budget cuts. Library hours have been cut back and plans to shut down Stanley Park's petting zoo and Queen Elizabeth Park's Bloedel Conservatory are on the table. The problems is dealing with multimillion-dollar budget shortfalls.

The Bloedel Conservatory shutdown is of great concern to preservation groups like Heritage Vancouver. The conservatory was made possible by a donation from Seattle timber magnate Prentice Bloedel, whose family estate on Bainbridge Island is now the Bloedel Reserve and whose daughter, Virginia Wright, is one of Seattle's leading arts patrons. In 1967, Bloedel put up more than $1.25 million to build the Vancouver conservatory. It's a giant, modernist triodetic dome (similar to geodesic) filled with exotic plants and free-flying birds. It's a landmark heritage structure, and a popular attraction.

Heritage Vancouver worries about the implications of shutting down such an important institution. In an email, the group says, "Uncertainty about the future of the Bloedel Conservatory raises questions about the future of all of our community heritage resources." If the Bloedel Conservatory isn't safe, what is? The Vancouver Park Board has invited new proposals for keeping the conservatory going, but has only committed to keeping it open until the end of May (deadline for proposals is April 30).

Heritage Vancouver is hosting a meeting to discuss the future of the conservatory and how to save it: Thursday, March 18, from 6:45 pm to 9 pm at The Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut St., Vancouver; admission is $5.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.