Should I be fortunate enough to have your vote and be elected one of your park board commissioners I can assure all residents of Vancouver that I will listen and respect everyone’s view. I have, can and will work with people and parties across the spectrum to ensure we provide the best possible services and facilities for now and the future.
As a small business person who owns a company that manufactures green, environmentally friendly, non-cancerous industrial solvents, I have learned that you need to keep an open mind to new ideas. Keeping an open mind to new ideas leads to innovation not only in business but in the community.
I have consistently demonstrated through my work and community involvement a willingness to reach out and work with a wide variety of people to the benefit of the project or organization.
Recently, working with neighbours and others throughout the area, I helped initiate a grass roots movement to remove heavy trucks off Nanaimo Street. Working with others throughout the community, we have become active in protecting our neighbourhoods from ill thought out initiatives which are detrimental to our families, homes and quality of life.
I am proud to say that as a board member of the West End Community Centre (WECC) and chair of the arts committee I initiated “Art in the City”, an multimedia arts show for the West End that is now one of the city’s largest art exhibitions. In addition as a board member I worked on many long term initiatives including refurbishment of the centre and negotiating a joint operating agreement in partnership with the park board.
As a board member at WECC and the citizens advisory committee for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services I have seen firsthand the effects of budget cuts without foresight and proper planning on parks, recreation and fire services. I have also witnessed the stress placed on hard working employees that devote a large part of their lives to their jobs.
This is no way to run a city or a park board. Over the past three years we have witnessed cuts of over $5.2 million to the park board budget. Cuts which closed the children’s petting zoo, cuts which have seen the maintenance of our parks cut to the point where grass isn’t cut, gardens tended, weeds removed, washrooms in disrepair or even providing soap, cuts which have decreased the popular playground leaders program, cuts which have decreased the efficiency of garbage collection in our parks, cuts which almost cost us a true jewel in the city, the Bloedel Conservatory.
We are truly fortunate to live in such a wonderful city. As an East Side resident I am lucky enough to wake up and see the mountains out of my windows and think about the majesty of the city in which we live. A growing, vibrant city with an increasingly neutered, ineffectual park board. A park board which is at a crossroads, a crucial point in which we need to renew aging existing facilities and develop new ones to meet an ever growing need, in addition to providing and protecting services that a growing population requires.
All the while nary a peep has been expressed from the Vision Vancouver or their COPE colleagues in opposition to such draconian budgeting imposed by their masters at the city manager’s office or their Vision mayor and council allies at city hall.
We have seen park board commissioners that are unwilling or unable to advocate and stand up for an independent park board and we deserve better. We need park board commissioners that are willing and able to stand up to council for the needs of our parks board and the facilities and services that it needs to provide.
This is not about ideology but of common sense. A sense of looking at ideas from a variety of origins and incorporating new ideas for everything from budgeting to planning, to facilities and service management to make the park board more responsive and efficient for a growing city’s needs.
We need commissioners who are dedicated to ensuring that all citizens are represented and receive the best services and facilities they can provide. While a person has the absolute right to advocate for whatever cause they wish on their own time, we need to end the practice of using the park board and the position of commissioner as a pulpit for pet causes unrelated to anything to do with operating such an organization.
This election is about electing park board commissioners that will look at the big picture and not over promise and under deliver. This election is about ensuring the present and future in an era where resources are increasingly strained. Imagination and a willingness to co-operate with people and organizations from across the city are not only necessary but required, abilities I have demonstrated in my everyday life as a business owner and in my community involvement.
As NPA candidates we have developed a policy program that is visionary, yet practical. My priorities as a commissioner include a revisit of the Mount Pleasant Pool decision as well as study of the revitalization of an outdoor pool program in which wading pools, larger lap pools and children’s water parks would be renewed as destination recreation centres within neighbourhoods.
As community centre board member I would be a strong advocate for renewal of aging centres. We need to plan better to ensure that more than one-half community centre is funded every three years.
In addition, I have and will advocate the children’s petting zoo be returned to an educational farm and cultural centre. A centre in which local aboriginal nations and agricultural organizations would operate a working farm which demonstrates how food is grown, demonstrate historical native farming and cultural practices and practical demonstrations on how to grow food.
As your park commissioner I also will advocate for practical initiatives which will look at ways to promote our parks and recreation facilities while increasing revenues in innovative fashions. We also need to ensure planning is done promptly so we can advocate for our next capital plan and ensure proper funding for community centre renewal, an expanded pool program and other facilities and projects.
Dogs are an important part of many people’s and families’ very fabric. As a dog owner and former pound officer I understand the need for increasing safety and recreation for dog and their owners. We need more dog parks, off leash and fenced recreation areas while respecting the rights of non-dog owners. Dog are social beings that need interaction with other people and dogs and we need to look at ways to ensure they can do so in a manner protective of all concerned. This needs to be an ongoing process so we can ensure that all concerned have an ongoing role in providing good facilities for our four legged friends.
I also have also been involved with residents regarding the issues facing Hastings Park, issues ranging from governance to the greening of the park. It is obvious that the current structure and plan are not effective nor representative of the wishes of the residents nor in the best interests of the city. As your park commissioner I shall work with residents to ensure representative governance and a real greening plan which will make the park a true destination facility for all.
In closing, I am asking for your vote. To borrow an old cliché, this isn’t just a job it’s an adventure. An adventure which working together, we can forge a new path to ensure we provide the services and facilities that we need for now and the future.
Dave Pasin is a Non-Partisan Association candidate for the Vancouver park board.