Vision Vancouver's green-space agenda questioned
Parks advocateJamie Lee Hamilton is raising what she says is a fundamental question about the green agenda of Vancouver's ruling civic party. “Where's the green?” Hamilton asked in a phone interview with the Straight.
According to her, the city hasn't purchased land specifically for park space since Vision Vancouver won majorities on council and the park board in 2008.
Hamilton noted that the last major land acquisition specifically for park purposes was made by the city in 1993. It was the 3.05-hectare Trillium park site in the False Creek Flats.
Hamilton said that, although Vancouver's population is growing, city hall hasn't ensured there is enough park space for residents.
“Don't give us greenwashing,” she said.
Vision's Aaron Jasper, vice-chair of the park board, countered that the “availability of large-scale parcels for bargain-basement prices are far and few between”.
“And so the strategy has been, and it's been this way for quite some time, that when developments are approved, that's where you ensure that parks are part of these,” Jasper told the Straight by phone.
Jasper cited as an example the park that's currently under construction in the East Fraserlands,
as part of ParkLane Homes' development project. He also mentioned Hinge Park, which came with the development of the Olympic Village.
Jasper said that over the past few years, the city has bought a number of residential lots adjacent to parks. “It's not new parkland, but it's an expansion of existing park space,” he said.
A former chair of the park board, Anita Romaniuk, explained that the creation of new parks takes time. She recalled that before she was elected in 2002, the city acquired land in Marpole. During her term as a COPE commissioner, the park board started planning for the site. The next board approved the design. In 2009, the 0.4-hectare Ebisu Park opened for public use.
“So you've got eight years or so from start to finish for one small park,” Romaniuk told the Straight by phone.
Raymond Louie is the chair of city council's finance and services committee. Although the fourth-term councillor couldn't provide details, he said that the city's capital plans include funds for the purchase of park space. “There have been a number of initiatives that increased the amount of green space in our city,” Louie told the Straight by phone.