Vision Vancouver unsure about proposal to protect parks in perpetuity


The Vision Vancouver majority on the park board is reluctant to support a proposed motion to protect the city’s parks in perpetuity.

The measure has been introduced by first-term park commissioner John Coupar of the Non-Partisan Association. It is included in the board’s agenda for its meeting on Monday (October 15).

Coupar explained that under the current system, park space can be taken out of the inventory with a two-thirds vote in park board and council. Vision has majorities on both bodies, but the NPA commissioner maintained that he wants his motion to be nonpolitical.

“I’m not just looking at this for now,” Coupar told the Straight in a phone interview. “I’m looking at this for the future. Because as the city gets more and more people, there will be pressure on park space. And I really believe that the more parks the city has, the better quality of life that we will all have.”

Coupar’s motion seeks to direct staff to work with the City of Vancouver to develop strategies and legal procedures to permanently protect the city’s parks.

“It’s a reasonable motion,” he said, recalling that a similar one was adopted by park board many years ago. However, no staff work was done on it, Coupar said.

Vision commissioner Aaron Jasper stressed that his bloc supports the “spirit of what John [Coupar] is trying to accomplish”.

However, Jasper also noted in a phone interview with the Straight that he has concerns about the “implications of any kind of new language or procedures”.

He said that there are real examples in which park space has been affected by other city projects. He cited the construction of a right-turn bay at Knight Street and East 33rd Avenue, where a portion of Kensington Park was taken out by city engineers.

“We want to make sure that we are also not tying our hands,” Jasper said.

He noted that there could be opportunities in the future to do land swaps with other entities.

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Considering Vision Vancouver’s close relationship with the development community and their willingness (if not downright encouragement) for developers to demolish churches, heritage buildings, and destroy neighbourhoods with oversize towers, many have been been waiting for the first foray into handing over the city’s public parks to developers. It came recently as a trail balloon with Langara Golf course. At first it was claimed it was intended to convert part of the course to a park, followed shortly by an admission that housing would not be ruled out. As we all know “housing” in Vision’s newspeak means luxury glass high rise towers.

The fact that this ostensibly green civic party now is unwilling to support a motion to protect parks in perpetuity could well be interpreted as a signal that parks are the next target for Vision's wrecking ball strategy for Vancouver. Can you imagine London's mayor being unwilling to support a bill protecting Hyde Park in perpetuity? Shocking.
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