I’m Michael Wiebe. I love this city and I’m always looking for ways to make it better.
I grew up skating on Jericho pond, swimming at English Bay, and cycling all over Stanley Park.
When I was 12, I mapped out the wheelchair accessibility of all trails in Stanley Park because no one had done it and I believed it was needed. For years I worked for the park board as a lifeguard. Later, I co-founded the Vancouver Lifeguard Association.
Now I’m a business owner. You might even know my restaurant in Mount Pleasant, Eight 1/2, where you can see sustainable principles, including zero waste, in action and actually making a real difference.
I’m also a director of the Mount Pleasant BIA, working hard to create a better environment for all our small businesses and our neighbourhood, including getting people to step up and do things that will actually be more sustainable, instead of just pretending we are.
Now I’m building on some of these things I’ve done and seen take root, and I’m running for park board for the Green Party of Vancouver.
Vancouver’s parks and facilities are suffering from years of neglect and poor decision making—especially the idea of centralization that leaves neighbourhood efforts out in the cold.
But more than that, our parks and public green spaces can and should be models for a genuinely sustainable city.
Two things need to happen. Number one is being sustainable—genuinely sustainable—not just doing the easy things or things that get us awards but don’t really decrease our footprint on the planet. Number two is listening to the people who use our parks and facilities and working with them, not alienating them.
For all my Green party running mates, those values are critical, too. We know we can achieve more by listening and working together to make things better for Vancouver.
To start, Vancouver’s parks and facilities should be leaders in green initiatives. But they can be a whole lot more, too.
They can be educational centres to introduce people to different city programs such as composting and how we get to zero waste.
They can and should be more accessible to everyone. We need to build new local swimming pools—the first one in Mount Pleasant, which has been waiting for one for years—and we need to make them zero-entry pools. That means they have sloping entrances like a beach, so they’re safer and more accessible to kids, and easier to use for older people or anyone with physical challenges who has trouble using ladders to get in and out.
And our pools should be open through September, like they used to be, to provide swimming and first aid lessons to students in conjunction with school.
We could make way better use of our concession stands and work with local farmers to offer local, organic produce in season. We could also offer locally made ice cream and treats, rather than international brands, which would offer healthier, more sustainable choices and help local businesses thrive.
A lot of people tell me they are frustrated by “destination” facilities like Hillcrest Aquatic Centre, where they have to get in a car and drive kilometres with their kids to a huge facility packed with strangers and too many cars in overflowing parking lots. I am too.
Our parks and recreational facilities were once the heart and hub for neighbours to meet neighbours at their local park or swimming pool. With with a change in direction, they can be that once again. Vote Green this election and make sure you don’t put any one party in the majority.