24 Hours and News 11:30: Dragon Boat Festival being forced out of Vancouver?

Where is the future Dragon Boat House on False Creek?

For over the past 8 years, the Dragon Boat Community has been trying to ensure a boat house within the False Creek East Bay.  This is before Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and committed to the building an athlete's village in SE False Creek.  If Vancouver had been awarded a Summer Games, would a rowing course similar to Montreal and Los Angeles Olympics had been created in SE False Creek?

Public forums had been attended, and dragon boaters reminded planners to include dragon boating in their plans.  I saw early plans that included a boating centre, and room to store boats, under the Cambie St. Bridge.

But now the only parcel of land left is NE False Creek.  The planned SE False Creek Community Centre, does not include a Community Boat House.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Interenational Dragon Boat Festival Society sent a letter to Vancouver city council stating that the largest Dragon Boat Festival in North America, and its present Dragon Zone facility which provides year long paddling – is in jeopardy.

In 1986, Dragon Boats were first donated to the City of Vancouver during Expo 86, from the Hong Kong Pavillion, thus kick starting dragon boat festivals all across Vancouver.  Vancouver was the first North American city to hold a World Club Crew Championship in 1996.  In 2003, the country of Taiwan donated Taiwanese style dragon boats to the City of Vancouver..

DRAGON BOAT RACING may be snuffed out in False Creek unless a new facility is built to accommodate the sport that attracts thousands of paddlers to the area. (file photo)

Here are the links to newstories:

24 Hours
Up The Creek

Vancouver's long-running Dragon Boat Festival is in danger of capsizing without help from City Hall.

International Dragon Boat Festival Society chair Jas Kalsi sent a
troubling letter to city council yesterday stating the festival will be
squeezed out of their iconic False Creek location – where they've been
paddling since Expo 86 – by development unless the city approves a
permanent boathouse.

“We're running out of time and space,”
Kalsi told 24 hours. “This is something we've been asking for the last
10 years, but we haven't seen a commitment.”

Council is expected
to receive a staff report on the future of False Creek in the next few
weeks, and Kalsi prays dragon boats will be included. If not, the
festival may be forced to relocate to another city.

“There are
alternatives but False Creek is the place to be,” he said. “We want to
be a part of the area. Sponsors are prepared the finance the boathouse,
so it's really about getting councillors to make that commitment.”
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Coun. Raymond Louie called the festival a “mainstay of the city” and assured council is committed to the event.

facility is under construction to support boating in the creek,
although it's not big enough to accommodate the festival's needs.

Read more:

Here's the story on NEWS 1130


Dragon Boat Festival needs permanent home to avoid leaving Vancouver
Running out of room at current Science World site

(NEWS1130) – This could be the last year for Vancouver's annual Dragon
Boat Festival, unless the city steps in and helps give it a permanent
home.  Festival General Manager Ann Phelps says there is only one piece
of property left in False Creek, and she says if the development
doesn't include a place for the festival, they will have to go

Phelps says the festival has become a huge economic
generator for the city.  “We are a million dollar festival…that's
what it costs us to put the event on.  But we are a big economic
development opportunity for the city.  We have close to 1,500 people
that come into the city from outside Vancouver.”  Phelps says those
visitors spend about $2.4 million over the weekend event.

Councillor Raymond Louie says there is space planned for dragon boats,
but it's up to council to approve it.   “Being a former dragon boater
myself, I see the value and want to see this continue in our city.  My
hope–and I know that my colleagues share this sentiment–is that we
will look for every opportunity to find some space and keep the Dragon
Boat Festival here in Vancouver.”

Louie says council is
considering several options, including a stretch by Science World, for
the event's home base.  As that piece of land (currently owned by
Concord Pacific) is redeveloped and that creek side park is developed,
the plan was to have a non-motorized marina.  He says current plans do
have space for a dock, but it may have to be re-zoned to fit the
thousands who attend the festival.

Phelps says you can support
the festival (which runs this weekend) by signing a petition at this
year's event.  Dragon boating appeared in Vancouver as a demonstration
sport at Expo 86. Vancouverites liked it, interest started to grow, and
in 1989 the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival was created.

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