British Columbia

Vancouver Park Board commemorates former vice chair Grace McCarthy with plaza and plaque

The new Grace McCarthy Plaza is located at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park near the Bloedel Conservatory, a place the park board says McCarthy worked tirelessly to ensure was completed.

McCarthy was a lifelong ambassador for the city's green spaces, park board says

Stuart Mackinnon, chair of the Vancouver Park Board, said the plaza's chosen spot is fitting for a McCarthy memorial, as the view overlooks McCarthy's riding of Vancouver-Little Mountain. (Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation)

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation commemorated its former vice chair Grace McCarthy with a new plaque and plaza. 

McCarthy died in 2017 at age 89, after a long battle with a brain tumour.

The new Grace McCarthy Plaza is located at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park near the Bloedel Conservatory, a place the park board says she worked tirelessly to ensure was completed.

McCarthy served as vice chair of the park board for three terms and was a lifelong ambassador for the city's green spaces, the park board said in a news release. 

Stuart Mackinnon, chair of the park board, said the chosen spot is fitting for a McCarthy memorial, as the view from the plaza overlooks her riding of Vancouver-Little Mountain. 

McCarthy ran for the Social Credit party and won in the riding of Vancouver-Little Mountain in 1966, and was quickly named to cabinet, where she served for the rest of former B.C. Premier W.A.C. Bennett's tenure.

"Her favorite things were things to do with horticulture, trees, and flowers ... so we thought that was very fitting," he said.

Mackinnon said McCarthy led a number of important initiatives during her three terms as vice chair, including creating the Bloedel Conservatory, championing the VanDusen Botanical Garden, and creating the annual Stanley Park Christmas Train. 

"She was a person really larger than life, everybody loved Grace McCarthy." 

McCarthy went on to act as a cabinet minister in the governments of all three Social Credit premiers for three decades, and was dubbed "Amazing Grace" by her own party. 

She was instrumental in bringing Expo 86 to Vancouver, building the SkyTrain, and putting the lights on the Lions Gate Bridge, according to Mackinnon. 

"Grace McCarthy made an indelible mark not only on the City of Vancouver, but on the province," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Gomez is a CBC writer in Vancouver. You can contact her at michelle.gomez@cbc.ca.

With files from Justin McElroy

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