Jamie Lee Hamilton: We must keep our parks public in Vancouver

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      As a long-time advocate of the Downtown Eastside, I am announcing my intention to seek election to the Vancouver park board on November 19.

      Park board has been an interest of mine for quite some time, as it involves parks and public spaces, arts programming, recreation, cultural activities, seniors and youth issues, and important emerging social issues.

      My community and civic involvement includes being a steering member for the Downtown Eastside Arts in Parks Committee and programme coordinator for A-STEP, an aboriginal youth arts program funded by the McCreary Centre Society. I also sit on the board of the two-spirited Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society as an esteemed elder within the College of Elders. The GVNCS formed in 1978.

      A number of park board issues are on my radar and involve many exciting, challenging, and concerning issues for Vancouver citizens.

      Most concerning are the drastic cuts park board ($5.3 million) has made in the last three years. These cuts included eliminating the children’s farmyard and petting zoo in Stanley Park, introducing user fees for six-year-olds when previously there were none, cutting the budget by 50 percent for children’s summer camp programming and voting against a plebiscite denying citizens a democratic vote regarding whales in captivity. This is why I am seeking a seat on the Vancouver board of parks and recreation.

      With the city densifying, I believe that our public spaces, parks, and community centres are vitally important to our well-being and happiness. It is crucial to ensure that appropriate resources are evenly distributed to every neighborhood for the enjoyment of our citizens. With ongoing privatization in our parks, the public has less and less access to our public parks. We must keep our parks public.

      A long-standing issue which the park board needs to address is the autonomy and independence of the park board. The park board was created in 1890 and is the only elected board of its kind in Canada. Yet the board lacks the ability of separate powers of taxation and borrowing, and it must have full control over its public assets.

      Rampant homelessness and drug use are long-standing concerns in this city. We see rising homelessness in Stanley Park and other parks, and we must immediately address these matters. Moreover, there is a significant number of homeless youth, including at-risk youth, without adequate supports. I want to ensure that all governing bodies are working responsibly and co-operatively in a less partisan manner to find smart compassionate solutions which address these hardships, inequities, and challenges facing far too many younger citizens.

      Following in the footsteps of my late mother, Alice Hamilton, a well-respected leader for aboriginal people in Canada and a cofounder in the early 1950s of the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, I pledge to tirelessly work to ensure fairness and justice for all of our citizens.

      On November 19, I ask for your support to create much-needed positive change at the park board.

      Jamie Lee Hamilton is an Independent Democratic Electoral Alliance candidate for the Vancouver park board.



      used to swim

      Oct 25, 2011 at 7:04am

      Jamie Lee, please tell us what your position is on Mount Pleasant Pool and what you would do to ensure that this community does not lose a valuable recreational facility?


      Nov 2, 2011 at 12:21pm

      Hi Used to Swim,

      I too used to swim at the Hastings outdoor pool. Would spend lots of summers there. Kids have so much fun at these outdoor pools but Park Board for some odd reason has closed them. This is not fair to the kids in Mount Pleasant. I recall last election Vision candidates promised to save the Mt Pleasant pool. Once elected they did the opposite. I guess you can see that I favour a new Mt Pleasant pool to be constructed on the site where it once was. If elected this will be a top priority for me.

      Annelise Sorg

      Nov 9, 2011 at 8:18am

      Vote for Jamie Lee if you oppose keeping whales and dolphins in captivity!
      Unfortunately, both Park Board commissioners Loretta Woodcock COPE and Stuart Mackinnon GREENS - who used to oppose the Vancouver Aquarium's expansion plans to build more whale pools, which only means the Aquarium would bring more whales - both political parties have now bowed down to the Aquarium's demands and have voted in favour of the Aquarium building more whale pools in Stanley Park - and that is unacceptable.
      Back in 1995, the Park Board told the Aquarium that if they wanted to build more whale pools in Stanley Park, that the issue would be sent to public referendum, hence the call for a "Whale Referendum". But that and all other rulings against Aquarium expansion were wiped off the books when Aquarium staff Heather Deal ran for NPA and became chair of the Park Board!
      It's time to STOP KEEPING WHALES IN CAPTIVITY because cruelty should not be fun, even if it makes the Vancouver Aquarium a lot of money!!!