The Vancouver park board oversees more than 230 public parks in the city. But at least one park commissioner has something to say about what's happening to parks at the provincial level.
Vision Vancouver's Niki Sharma, who's seeking a council nomination for the November civic election, has put a motion on the agenda for the park board's Monday (April 14) meeting. It would see the park board state that it is "opposed to the Park Amendment Act and directs staff to write to the Provincial Government to request a reversal of this legislation and to restore the original Park Act to provide better protection to British Columbia’s vital network of park land".
On March 24, Bill 4 (Park Amendment Act, 2014) received third reading and royal assent. Introduced by Environment Minister Mary Polak, the legislation changed the Park Act to allow the minister to issue park use permits for feasibility studies relating to the "location, design, construction, use, maintenance, improvement or deactivation" of roads, pipelines, transmission lines, telecommunications infrastructure, and other "prescribed" projects.
"The Park Amendment Act erodes earlier protections under the Park Act that only allowed permits to be issued if the permitted use would not be detrimental to the recreational values of the park at issue," Sharma's motion on notice states.
In a commentary posted on March 20, Andrew Gage, a staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law, noted Bill 4 also "reduces legal protection for small parks".
"Currently, park use permits cannot be given to allow resources to be taken from small parks—2,023 hectares or less in size—recognizing that small parks can be more easily affected by resource use. Bill 4 would eliminate this restriction, allowing park use permits to be issued for resource use in the smallest parks," Gage wrote.
Sharma's motion asserts that the provincial park system "must be protected from development".
An online petition calling for Bill 4 to be rescinded has been signed more than 160,000 times.