Michael Wiebe: Vancouver parks suffering from years of neglect and poor decision-making

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      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.



      YA OK

      Nov 7, 2014 at 5:30pm

      If MR I never even attend Park Board meetings says so.


      Nov 7, 2014 at 6:12pm

      It's unfortunate that Mr.Weibe has fallen into the trap of catering to the creme de la creme in Mount Pleasant while ignoring the hisory of all of Mount Pleasant. In 1979 the COV and VPB voted to sell off 4.15 acres of China Creek Park North (30%) the two blocks of concrete and asphalt where Vancouver Community College King Edward Campus looms and monies from the sale were siphoned out of our part of Mount Pleasant which in 1979 and 2014 is still considered an Inner-City nbhd. Mount Pleasant pool has only been closed 4 years. It was 27 years ago the 1987 Community Plan for Mount Pleasant identified CCPN as the prime location for a new pool and community centre. On top of that aquiring new parkspace was also identified as a priority but since then the process and most of the money has been hijacked by those west of the Kingsgate Mall. When VCC KEC expanded the COV and VPB allowed VCC KEC to defer any CAC for parks or recreation, 35 years and counting. Not to be outdone the COV and VPB sold off even more parkspace this time from China Creek Park South. The VPB blew nearly 1 million dollars rebuilding Mount Pleasant Park. At CCPN there's not even a single park bench in the main area.
      Re-building Mount Pleasant pool at MPP is the worst location. Only the #3 bus comes within 3 blocks and there's only 1 bike-route. China Creek Park North is bordered by 3 bike-routes and is within 1 block of the Clark/VCC skytrain station/ #84 bus plus it's within 2 blocks of the #22, 9 and 99 bus-routes, the Tenth ave bike-route connects 3 blocks South and the #8 bus is only 3 blocks West. Another pool west of Main serves the status-quo, a pool at CCPN would be the most Accessible by walking, biking and transit in all of Canada and clearly the 'Greeenest' choice.
      Instead of making promises built on the most recent community plan Mr. Weibe should take the time to look back and identify ALL the oustanding issues and just how long some areas have been waitig for their lack aof amenities to be addressed.
      FYI Green Party Councillor Adriane Carr has repeatedly supported expanding vehicle parking lots including but not limited to Coast Mountain Bus and the Point Grey Yacht Club, expanded free parking for COV employees at #1 Kingsway and 2010 Glen Drive which is right next to the Clark skytrain station and ignored calls for Handicapped parking spots along Great Northern Way.


      Nov 8, 2014 at 1:48pm

      Funny how the first thing Michael says the city needs is a new pool in Mount Pleasant. I'm sure it is coincidence that he is head of the Mount Pleasant BIA and he owns a business there. Seems like a very narrow view set up to please his neighbors. Sorry Michael, but there plenty of things we need besides a new pool in your neighborhood. As a Park board member you are beholden to the whole city, not just your friends.