I’m running under the IDEA Vancouver banner for park commissioner to bring positive change and to fight to keep our parks and waterfront lands public. I have been deeply concerned about the erosion of public park and green space in Vancouver. Equally unsettling is the intrusion of private interests onto our public waterfront.
Park board has fallen way behind in our 2.5 acres for every 1,000 residents policy. Deeply concerning is that during the six years Vision has been in power they have not created one mid-size or substantial park in Vancouver. In fact Vision Vancouver has eliminated the third phase of Emery Barnes Park and without any public consultation is allowing this public land to be privately developed for condos. Vision as well early in their second term attempted to chop off part of the Langara golf course again for condos. They were stopped in their tracks by many of us who spoke out against this plan. If re-elected Vision may well finish off their planned privatization of this public asset.
Vision has in their last two terms in office cut $5.3 million from the park board budget. This resulted in significant cuts to children and youth programs. This insensitive and short-sighted action by Vision created hardship for many inner city kids. Of course, who can forget how Vision eliminated the children’s farmyard and petting zoo in Stanley Park? Sadly many of the pets at the children’s farmyard were sent off to be slaughtered.
To date under Vision rule there has been no move to restore the park board budget to pre-2008 levels and if elected I will fight to ensure these cuts are overturned.
The life force of the Vancouver board of parks and recreation system is our beloved volunteer-run community centres. These centres have had their own difficulties because park board has been interfering with their operations. Community centres operate under joint operating agreements and have had these agreements in place as long as in some cases 75 years. Without any prior consultation except for one meeting last year that lasted until 4 a.m. the park board implemented the OneCard system which has negatively impacted a number of our community centres. Currently the board and the centres are involved in costly court challenges. This issue was easily preventable and instead money which could have gone into public program funding is now being spent on costly court cases. If these court cases hadn’t happened the funds saved could have been used for a replacement outdoor pool for Mount Pleasant children which Vision promised them and then never delivered.
Another area of concern for Vancouver citizens is the controversial issue of whale and dolphin captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium. This matter needs public consultation and a referendum should be held to gauge voters wishes on this highly contentious matter. For some reason even though it would not have cost anything Vision chose not to place this whale referendum question on the ballot in the upcoming November 15 election. Concerning now is the aquarium has taken the park board to court and a new board will need to resolve this costly conflict.
Vancouver voters have a choice to make on November 15. I am hoping you want a positive change in how park board operates. Hopefully with your vote we can collaboratively and respectfully work together to ensure our parks remain public and once and for all put an end to this ongoing pettiness and conflict at park board. You can see my entire platform at my website.
I ask for your vote of confidence on November 15.