Constance Barnes tells Emery Barnes Park Community Association to drop father’s name
Vision Vancouver park commissioner Constance Barnes has asked a neighbourhood association to stop using the name of her father because of the group’s opposition to a winter shelter in its community.
Barnes recently met with representatives of the Emery Barnes Park Community Association over their concerns about a shelter for homeless people on Seymour Street.
“To see Emery Barnes’s name and the word NIMBY in the same sentence makes us very uncomfortable,” Barnes told the Straight in a phone interview about how her family feels. NIMBY stands for “not in my backyard”, a phrase commonly used to describe local opposition to projects that residents would rather see happen farther away.
Barnes’s late father was known for his advocacy for the poor. As a member of the B.C. legislative assembly, he once lived on a welfare rate for one month to show that social assistance to the needy should be increased.
Barnes stressed that the December 15 meeting was very respectful. The park commissioner noted that residents felt they were not properly consulted by the city about with the shelter. She said she will bring their concerns to city hall.
“As a park board commissioner, I talked about the fact that the kids, the youth that are there, were sleeping at the park before,” she said. “So do we prefer them out in the freezing cold in the park? Or do we prefer them to be in a safe environment and have the opportunity to get some help and maybe relocate them into housing?”
It’s not known yet whether the group will drop the Emery Barnes name.
“But they understood my concern,” Barnes said. “And I was quite firm with them that I just felt uncomfortable with them using the Emery Barnes name. We’ll see how it goes forward.”