Melissa De Genova: Funding solutions for Vancouver parks and recreation facilities

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      Vancouver is home to some of the most extraordinary parks and recreation facilities in the world. With the Olympics came the creation of the Hillcrest and Creekside community centres and new parks such as Hinge Park in Southeast False Creek. There is no doubt that these new facilities will be well used by Vancouverites.

      However, we cannot forget the several parks and community centres overdue for renewal that cannot wait decades to be renovated, as is dictated by the capital plan. My passion for parks and recreation has inspired me to look at how we can fund the revitalization of these facilities without waiting for dollars from the capital plan.

      New developments are popping up in most Vancouver neighbourhoods and many are met with controversy. Often neighbourhoods are reluctant to accept the change rezoning brings and are hesitant to support increased density.

      The current Vision park board has not properly communicated to the general public the benefits of new development and what it can bring to the community overall. At public meetings hosted by the City of Vancouver, there is often no mention or consultation with neighbourhoods as to what amenities would be advantageous for residents in the area.

      When a developer builds a mixed use or residential building, they also agree to pay the city a community amenity contribution. CACs benefit the area overall and can be a huge boost to neighbourhoods, creating new parks, community centres, and playing fields. CACs also help to provide new seniors’ centres, facilities for youth, and much needed daycare facilities. A good example of this is Arbutus Village, where the redevelopment of this area will create over $40 million in CACs. This development could indirectly help to build a new seniors’ centre and also help to fund and revitalize community centres such as Dunbar and Kerrisdale.

      If elected as a park board commissioner, I will work closely with the community and city planning, along with park board planning staff, to see that CAC dollars are maximized for the community, while also being mindful that any new development meets the needs of the neighbourhood.

      Over the past three years, the park board has lost much of its independence. The park board capital plan no longer stands alone and has been lumped into a general capital plan, not specific to parks and recreation, potentially allowing money that has been reserved for these facilities and services to be allocated to other city projects.

      There is urgency for the renovation of several parks and recreation facilities. The Vancouver park board needs strong new leadership and to include Vancouver citizens in conversations about creative ways to fund and revitalize our aging infrastructure including community centres, playing fields, and heritage structures.

      Melissa De Genova is a Non-Partisan Association candidate for the Vancouver park board.



      Hubert Massiah

      Oct 5, 2011 at 2:25pm

      While I admire your comments I cannot help but notice that you make no reference to the desperate need for a seniors center in south east vancouver. We have more seniors than all the wst side, they have 7 senior Centers we have none!! Killarney CC has agreed to have it built as an add on to their center but so far, while the city has committed to assisting with the funding they, and you, have done little to get either the Prov. or Feds on side to assist us with cash. HELP US!!

      Melissa De Genova

      Oct 7, 2011 at 10:56am

      Hubert- Thank you for your comments. I would value the opportunity to discuss with you, my priorities and initiatives relevant to the South East Van Seniors Centre and parks and recreation in the Killarney neighbourhood. I can be reached via e-mail at
      I have not only attended several meetings related to the SE Van Seniors Centres, however, I also came up with a funding model that would work for the centre and presented it at the Killarney All Candidates meeting in 2008. You are right, there is a great need for a seniors centre on the East side to service the over 17,000 seniors that have contributed to building our community. The current Vision board promised that a seniors centre would be built in Killarney this term in 2008-2011.

      If elected, I will see to it that the South East Vancouver Seniors Centre does not get lost, as the independence of the Park Board has, and that this long awaited and much needed centre becomes a reality in the community. I sat in Killarney community centre as the Vision team (both council and park board) especially Raymond Louie and Aaron Jasper, assured the public that this centre would be built in the next three years. At the end of 3 years, here we are without a seniors centre!!!

      My father Allan De Genova, a five-term park board commissioner worked closely with the Killarney Seniors and the community centre association. He worked closely with the Sunset community centre association to help bring 3 levels of government together to build the new successful Gold Leed community centre. I have worked alongside my father for several years. While, I do have my own initiatives, please feel free to contact some of the long time members of the Killarney Seniors Centre Committee and ask them how supportive I have been. My priority is to see that this dream that my father has and I share-that Killarney gets its own Seniors Centre- becomes a reality.

      james green

      Oct 10, 2011 at 2:31pm

      Sounds good but it has to be clear that Vision is in a political conflict of interest as is the NPA as developers fund their campaigns. The point is, when we do business with developers, citizens must have equal voice at the table and this has not been the case for years. As to the contributions of the developers to the communities they always benefit more in the long run from the profits they earn. What needs to happen is a revenue sharing in perpetuity, where the city gains a pari pasu position with our development partners for the life of projects for the cities contributions.
      I have great respect for your father and have known for years but he needs to teach you how things work politically in this city and not to put pie in the sky words out their for political gain.