John Coupar: Vancouver citizens deserve a park board that consults and listens

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      My commitment to serving Vancouver and its parks and recreation system springs from spending time with my father as a youth. My father, Charles Coupar, was a renowned horticulturalist who served the Vancouver park board for 42 years and had a major impact on the development of Vancouver’s park system—and on me.

      It was my father who planted the seed of what careful attention to our parks system can accomplish. Three years ago, I chose to run for park board after seeing that disappear. Queen Elizabeth Park’s Bloedel Conservatory—of which my father was the first director—was set to close, and I became politically active to give a voice to the citizens that treasure the value of these institutions. I am the past president of Friends of the Bloedel Association and a past governor of VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Of everything I’ve accomplished in local politics, I’m most proud of the successful effort to save and revitalize the conservatory.

      Three years ago, I was elected by the people of Vancouver. Today, I ask for your vote yet again, as I run for re-election to park board under the Non-Partisan Association banner. My time as an NPA park board commissioner has been both rewarding and frustrating. I enjoy connecting with community volunteers who care so much about our cherished parks and public facilities. But I’ve been frustrated by the lack of respect from the Vision majority in their dealings with community centre associations, their lack of regard for our parks system, and their cavalier approach to the horticultural legacy of our park board.

      Early in my term, on review of our new strategic plan, I was shocked to find that horticulture had been omitted. After some intense lobbying, I was able to change that. Over the course of my term, I helped stop proposed cuts to lifeguarding of our beaches, asked the tough questions about cuts to community centre programs, and voted against Vision’s plans to centralize community centres.

      When the Langara Golf Course was subject to a trial balloon around its development, I succeeded in getting a park protection motion passed. The board approved two other important motions I introduced: one on long overdue marina renewal and one on the essential new paddling docks in False Creek.

      When Kits Beach and Hadden Park were threatened by Vision’s ill-conceived paving plan, I was on the beach rallying the community. But the Vision majority didn’t listen to local citizens, and it took a court case to stop the plan.

      I want to change this lack of consultation. Vancouver citizens deserve a park board that listens so they get the great parks, facilities, and programs they deserve. In spite of the hard work by our dedicated staff, cuts to park board operating budgets early in Vision’s term have had a devastating effect on our parks and gardens. We have just 33 qualified gardeners on our staff to maintain 230 parks—including Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth, VanDusen Gardens, and Sunset Nursery. At the same time, Vision Vancouver has loaded their communications staff in city hall: 23 employees, just a handful fewer than the entire city gardening staff.

      Vancouverites tell me they long for a return to regular grass cutting of public places and improved maintenance. Many even long for a splash of colour in our boulevards, parks and gardens. I plan to make that happen.

      I’m ready to begin serving on a newly elected park board, one that will again be a source of pride and a key component of Vancouver’s active, healthy lifestyle. I ask for your vote and your support of Kirk LaPointe and our NPA team on November 15.

      Comments

      10 Comments

      Boris Moris

      Sep 22, 2014 at 4:29pm

      Maybe Coupar can explain why the NPA needed to hire an extreme right wing election strategist and pollster (Dimitri Pantazopoulos) from Alberta's Manning Center? Didn't the Fraser Institute have any HarperCon apologists available locally?

      Yeah..those were rhetorical questions deliberately aimed at a party (NPA) that has one of their 2011 council candidates, Bill McCreery, running around pulling center left parties (NSV and TEAM) out of his ass while endorsing another party of questionable origins (Cedar) and one of questionable integrity (Greens). This is all about vote splitting and we have the worst federal government in Canadian history thanks to the efforts of one Dimitri Pantazopoulos and his ilk. Google his name.

      "Conservative strategist Pantazopoulos worked for Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day and Rob Ford before Premier Christy Clark hired him as her principal secretary on April 4, 2011. He became assistant deputy minister of Intergovernmental Relations and Trade on Feb. 15, 2012 and quit May 22, 2013, eight days after the election. His duties included federal-provincial and interprovincial relations and coordination of trade missions."

      excerpt from the Tyee

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      "Questionable integrity"

      Sep 22, 2014 at 6:54pm

      Just like any political party. As for Dimitri, God forbid we have someone with experience in "federal-provincial and interprovincial relations and coordination of trade missions" working for a Vancouver party.
      Gregor, of course, has no experience at all in those policy areas. And he used to work for Joel Solomon. Google his name. Here's a hint: he's not what you could call "extreme right wing"(whatever that means). More like a cult leader with a kooky utopian vision. Fortunately the high costs of that vision are being under-written by the Rockefeller Foundation (which many describe as extreme right wing) and several other American billionaire heirs.

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      Boris Moris

      Sep 22, 2014 at 7:34pm

      "Questionable integrity" writes: "As for Dimitri, God forbid we have someone with experience in "federal-provincial and interprovincial relations and coordination of trade missions" working for a Vancouver party."

      Trade missions. Hmmm. The Cons have just sold out Canada with the FIPA deal that Dimitri Pantazopoulos' old boss, PM Harper, just ratified. This deal allows, for example, Chinese government corporations to force Canadian tax payers to pay damages if the Northern Gateway pipeline isn't built. Not only that but we won't even be informed about a lawsuit until after damages are awarded. And we're locked in for 31 years. Yeah, the guy behind the unfathomable success of clowns like Rob Ford, Stockwell Day and book burning fascist Steven Harper is such a "good catch" for Vancouver.

      I like your name, "Questionable integrity". It suits you well.

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      Wolfgang

      Sep 23, 2014 at 4:41am

      Stick to the basics and listen to the people of Vancouver. The present P & R Board can't even put garbage cans in the parks. Look at the example in Stanley Park where every second park bench along the seawall is covered in coffee cups and newspapers. While I blame the individuals for being too lazy to dispose of their garbage, I also recognize that the City could take a more realistic approach in dealing with the problem by making it easier to dispose of this garbage properly.

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      Save Vancouver

      Sep 23, 2014 at 7:35am

      Should Vision Vancouver win a majority on Parks Board or Council there is no doubt they will take another run at selling off parts of our parks system (like Langara) to their developer buddies.

      Liz

      Sep 23, 2014 at 7:54am

      No party ever represents our ideals and issues at hand. MY vote goes to the individual. Voting for parties is BS. Only qualified individuals who have a credible track record should run. Wonder how Miss Anton got to her current seat!

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      Liz

      Sep 23, 2014 at 7:56am

      PS: My vote goes to Mr. Coupar.

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      Tommy Khang

      Sep 23, 2014 at 8:10am

      Ah its refreshing to see that a Parks Board Candidate campaigning on a platform that he actually can affect. Unlike certain Vision Vancouver candidates that I have seen promoting a Broadway Subway line - seriously what's worse then a mayor with no power to build a subway - parks board candidates trying to build a subway.

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      Mark A

      Sep 23, 2014 at 11:55am

      Good for John Coupar to say it like it is. I am one of those voters who wants to see the return of the beautiful parks we had in the past.
      One of my first jobs ( in the 60's ) was working in Stanley Park and it was maintained beautifully as it should be now. Vision has gutted all departments in the city so they can pay for their pet projects.

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      Linda Stieler Johnson

      Sep 24, 2014 at 7:31am

      Both John Coupar and Mellisa De Genova, NPA candidates, are the two bright lights on the Park Board. They both exibihited incredible integrity with very difficult issues in our city, and both get my vote. And don't forget, if it wasn't for John Couper, we wouldn't have the Bloedel Conservatory. I am a community volunteer and I saw first hand the lack of respect of the Vision commissioners over and over again.

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