Vancouver park commissioner says discarded drug needles more important issue than banning balloons

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      The Vancouver park board has shot down a proposal to ban balloons.

      In an interview following the 5-2 vote by the board in a meeting Monday (September 18), one commissioner said that there are more important issues to consider.

      According to Non-Partisan Association commissioner John Coupar, he has heard from people about one particular issue concerning safety for park users, especially children.

      “People are bringing forward a lot of concerns about drug paraphernalia in parks, and needles, and that sort of thing, which I think are a big safety issue,” Coupar told the Straight in a phone interview Tuesday (September 19).

      Coupar was among the five commissioners who voted against the proposal by Green commissioner Stuart Mackinnon to ban balloons from parks, beaches, and community centres.

      Mackinnon had cited environmental concerns for his suggestion. His proposal was support by his fellow Green park commissioner and current board chair Michael Wiebe.

      In June this year, the City of Vancouver announced that it is intensifying the collection of needles discarded by drug users at a school and park adjacent to each other downtown.

      The city noted that it was responding to concerns about needles found in Andy Livingstone Park and Crosstown Elementary School.

      Andy Livingstone Park is a play area by Crosstown elementary students.

      In the interview, Coupar said that park rangers are “very stressed” about the “additional work they have in parks” in terms of dealing with used drug paraphernalia.

      “I think that while commissioner Mackinnon’s idea, the spirit of it, was good … we have bigger issues that need to handled first before we spend time on balloons,” Coupar said.