For 125 years, the citizens of Vancouver have benefited from the insight of our pioneer park officials that laid the groundwork for one of the finest city park systems in the world. As park board commissioner, I look forward to being a champion of the park and recreation facilities in Vancouver and advocating for a strong, independent park board.
With ongoing budget constraints, it’s critically important that your park board commissioners are willing to negotiate for the appropriate budget that allows the board to meet ongoing maintenance requirements, while developing long-term plans to meet the growing needs of the city.
In times like these, fiscal responsibility is vital and creative initiatives are needed to find the resources required to accomplish goals and plans. Identifying new revenue sources, developing new partnerships, and reviewing current program funding avenues is the starting point to move forward. Capital projects can be difficult to finance, but opportunities can exist if you keep your eye on the goal.
I believe the current parks board has dropped the ball in planning for the upkeep and renewal of recreation facilities for the citizens of the city. There are no clear plans to bring this back into focus.
The current parks board has focused almost exclusively on non-capital projects like gardens, horticulture facilities, playgrounds, and cycling paths. This has been to the detriment of larger renovations and maintenance projects for recreation facilities like pools, playing fields, ice rinks, and tennis courts. More focus needs to be given to updating and maintaining our recreation facilities, as these are places that allow families and individuals, old and young, to enjoy our community, stay active and healthy.
Planning for one community centre renewal over two capital plans, or six years, is far too slow. We need to rethink the process and find opportunities to accelerate the planning.
Being the greenest city is a lofty goal. I believe it is more desirable—and realistic—to aspire to be a healthy, active city. To be a city that offers the community a variety of excellent park and recreation facilities that encompasses our diversity of interests.
Initiatives in cycling infrastructure, street trees, and boulevard gardens are welcome but it is time to revisit our priorities and work to ensure the recreation facilities get the funding they require so they are available to all Vancouverites for years to come.
It has become all too familiar to see aging buildings or over-crowded spaces within the parks system. It is time to do better and I plan to make that happen.
Running for civic office is a serious commitment. I am committed to listening to the community, learning more about the issues, consulting with interested groups, attending community events and providing strong leadership for our city’s parks and recreation facilities.
We need to ensure that the parks and recreation system flourishes throughout our term on the board. I will follow through on these commitments and look forward to serving the citizens of Vancouver as park board commissioner.
Casey Crawford is a Non-Partisan Association candidate for the Vancouver park board.