Advocacy, education and outreach in support of Vancouver's public spaces

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November 14, 2014 at 10:54 PM

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Park Board Ideas and Priorities? 11 candidates share their perspectives

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Park Board Offices, located on Beach Avenue.

Park Board Offices, located on Beach Avenue.

Still thinking about how to cast your ballot for Parks Board candidates? Curious to read a little more from some of the candidates you may have heard about?

Earlier this month, the Vancouver Public Space Network asked all 31 candidates for Parks Board about their platforms and parks and greenspaces issues most important to them. We received replies to our online questionnaire from 11 candidates – including representatives from three parties (COPE, Green, Vision), and some independents.

Here’s what we asked them:

  1. What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?
  2. What are you top three priorities for the Park Board?
  3. Should the Park Board aim to improve greenspace opportunities in park-deficient neighborhoods? If so, what would you do to make this happen?
  4. Can the sustainability of Vancouver’s parks be improved? If so, what is one key strategy you would recommend?
  5. Can Vancouver parks and greenspaces be better designed to respond to the needs of a growing and changing population? If so, what sorts of general changes would you like to see made?
  6. Anything else you would like people to know about you or your platform?

You can read their responses below. We’ve organized them alphabetically.

To see all 31 Candidate Profiles, check out the City of Vancouver’s Election webpages.

 

Roland Clarke

Roland Clarke, Independent

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

Pigeon Park, because I run a weekly market for low income people there.

What are you top three priorities for the Park Board?

Increase accessibility, improve community centres in their programming for low income residents, improve relationships with community groups, increase green space throughout the city.

Should the Park Board aim to improve greenspace opportunities in park-deficient neighborhoods? If so, what would you do to make this happen?

Yes, Community consultation would be an important part of the process. We could identify key areas where residents feel that access to green space is deficient and allocate land.

Can the sustainability of Vancouver’s parks be improved? If so, what is one key strategy you would recommend?

Absolutely. Emphasis on renewable fuels and electric vehicles, and alternative energy used for all parks facilities. This could include solar installations on park houses, and community centres.

Can Vancouver parks and greenspaces be better designed to respond to the needs of a growing and changing population? If so, what sorts of general changes would you like to see made?

Absolutely.Multicultural and native focused programming should be a priority. Anti-bullying policies and focus on welcoming, inclusive and non-discriminatory staff and activities. I have been a victim of bullying at a community centre, so I am familiar with this issue personally.

Anything else you would like people to know about you or your platform?

I want to encourage local community groups to create markets and swap meets all over the city as a means of economic development and an embrace of the informal economy.

 

Jenny de Castris

Jenny de Castris, Independent

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

It’s hard to narrow it down! I love the view from the top of Queen Elizabeth park, the community centre at Trout Lake, the beaches in the West End. I love our Sea Wall, the New Brighton, Second Beach and Maple Grove pools. I love Bridal trail in Stanley Park. Those are just a few of my favourites. I think we live in a gem of a city. Each of the places I’ve listed are unique and wonderful for different reasons. This is why I think we are so fortunate to live in Vancouver.

What are you top three priorities for the Park Board?

Improving and maintaining parks and facilities to a higher standard than the current one; listening to the needs of residents and improving the relationship between the park board and the local communities; increasing green space in general and increasing off-leash park space for dogs.

Should the Park Board aim to improve greenspace opportunities in park-deficient neighborhoods? If so, what would you do to make this happen?

Yes! We need to find out what the residents of this city specifically want and need as far as green space goes. We need to review the budget. We need to commit to increasing green space in this city with all of the development that is ongoing. We need to be transparent. We need to act in the best interests of the public.

If elected, I will be an honest voice for the community. As an independent candidate, I have no political agenda driving me. I am here only to improve our city through outstanding parks and facilities.

Can the sustainability of Vancouver’s parks be improved? If so, what is one key strategy you would recommend?

Yes, of course. On a smaller scale, I think that recycling bins can be increased in our parks as well as green bins for leaves and other compostable materials. On a larger scale, I think we can ensure that we are using long-lasting materials when improving or building our parks and facilities, as well as implementing plants and landscaping that are easy to maintain.

Can Vancouver parks and greenspaces be better designed to respond to the needs of a growing and changing population? If so, what sorts of general changes would you like to see made?

I think that with a growing and changing population, our parks also need to grow and adapt to the changing needs of our residents. As mentioned, I think we need more park space for the growing canine population in the city. I also think we could use more community gardens. I am keen to provide the citizens of Vancouver with optimal green space that meets their needs, whatever they may be.

Anything else you would like people to know about you or your platform?

I’m a mother of 2 young children. My career has been in the regulatory industry, performing procedural audits and enforcing legislation on behalf of various organizations. I am keen to ensure transparency and responsible spending by the park board while improving and maintaining our parks in a way that meets the needs of the public.

 

Catherine Evans

Catherine Evans, Vision Vancouver

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

My sentimental favourite park is Memorial. I spent many hours there watching Little League games and flipping burgers in the volunteer concession stand. I enjoyed the variety of activities contained within the park and the fact it was always well used. A special feature of the park was the way it moved from (almost wild) woods along the western border through to carefully constructed space and finally the community centre on the eastern border. My favourite urban park is Emery Barnes. It’s what I think a downtown park needs to be. Open, spacious, inviting, well landscaped, and never empty.

What are you top three priorities for the Park Board?

Improve inclusivity and access to Park Board facilities and build on the success of OneCard.

Continue to work on the goals of the Greenest City Action Plan to increase the amount of parks, green spaces, and community gardens in Vancouver. (a 10-acre waterfront park along the Fraser River, new parks in Downtown South and East Fraserlands).

Building/upgrading facilities, infrastructure – Britannia renewal, new community centre in Marpole, separated off-leash dog parks, new/upgraded sports fields, kabbadi and ping pong infrastructure in parks, new Dragon Boat facility in False Creek.

Should the Park Board aim to improve greenspace opportunities in park-deficient neighborhoods? If so, what would you do to make this happen?

Yes. One of the Greenest City Goals is to ensure that every person lives within a five-minute walk of a park, greenway, or other green space by 2020. Provided community consultation comes first, we could explore potential opportunities to allocate road space to greenways and identify un/underused areas for community garden sites.

Can the sustainability of Vancouver’s parks be improved? If so, what is one key strategy you would recommend?

Yes. Stronger emphasis on park networks, especially along seawalls and watercourses, may be our best bet to improve sustainability while increasing bird habitat and recreation opportunities.

Can Vancouver parks and greenspaces be better designed to respond to the needs of a growing and changing population? If so, what sorts of general changes would you like to see made?

Yes. We need more engagement with the community to ensure single use areas – like dog runs – are carefully planned and thought out. Expanding separated, fenced, off-leash options for dog owners, and eliminating staggered hours at off-leash dog parks and installing permanent fencing, will help to ensure that all park users can share the public space.

Anything else you would like people to know about you or your platform?

http://www.votevision.ca/platform

 

Naveen Girn

Naveen Girn, Vision Vancouver

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

My favourite park is Kensington Park on Knight and 33rd. When it snows, the steep hills make it a great place to go tobogganing with friends and family. Also, it’s one of the best kept secrets in the city where you can avoid the rush and catch a perfect view of the Celebration of Light Fireworks.

My favourite Park Board facility is Killarney Community Centre. I grew up in that neighbourhood and learned to swim and skate at the community centre so I remember it being a heartbeat of the community and I am committed to the construction and completion of the new Seniors Centre.

Note – Vision Vancouver Candidates provided a collective response to questions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. See entry for Catherine Evans.

 

Brent Granby

Brent Granby, Vision Vancouver

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

Stanley Park. Warm memories or running in the park with a double jogging stroller with my girls.

Note – Vision Vancouver Candidates provided a collective response to questions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. See entry for Catherine Evans.

 

Jamie Lee hamilton

Jamie Lee Hamilton, IDEA

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

My favourite Park board facility is the Hastings Community Centre mainly because a group of engaged citizens in the East End of Vancouver built this unique Centre for the area residents. They did this without funding from the Park board. Sadly now the Park Board is attempting to evict them and I stand in solidarity with the Hastings Community Centre against this forced eviction. My favourite Park is Crab Park because I saw the struggle involved in creating a real available beach for our poorer citizens in the Downtown Eastside. This park was born as a result of action by community activists led by Don Larsen to secure this waterfront park for poor people.

What are you top three priorities for the Park Board?

Keeping our Parks public is my main concern. There has been continued erosion of our public spaces and this is true of our parks as well. Re-developments have been proposed for Langara Golf course, the third phase of Emery Barnes Park was eliminated and the land sold off to a private developer for condos. The Aquatic Centre on Beach Avenue is being considered for demolition and redevelopment on prime public waterfront land and this is deeply concerning. We lost our public concessions on English Bay and Kits Beach to private operators of which one is an American owned corporation. Maintaining our 2.5 acres of park space for every thousand residents is another priority. Restoring the Board budget to pre-2008 levels is an issue that I champion. Since 2008 Park Board has cut $5.3 million from the budget and this has had an enormous impact on parks and recreation services.

Should the Park Board aim to improve greenspace opportunities in park-deficient neighborhoods? If so, what would you do to make this happen?

Absolutely I support creating green spaces in park deficient neighbourhoods but just adding postage size green spaces should not be viewed as a replacement for creating Parks. Vision in their two terms of office has not created one mid-size or larger park and this is not acceptable. I would support a policy after having properly consulted and engaged with citizens in their communities on this matter.

Can the sustainability of Vancouver’s parks be improved? If so, what is one key strategy you would recommend?

Yes. Any park can be removed as a park and there needs to be a policy which ensures that all parks are protected from development. Currently there is no policy in place regarding this and that is deeply troubling.

Can Vancouver parks and greenspaces be better designed to respond to the needs of a growing and changing population? If so, what sorts of general changes would you like to see made?

I always support initiatives which come from the community. So if a community feels some changes might better reflect their changing population I would be open to this. An example I use is this one. The Killarney neighbourhood has the highest number of seniors in Vancouver living in their area and I would support programs that take the needs of seniors into account when designing parks.

Anything else you would like people to know about you or your platform?

Vote to keep our parks public. I also support a Cetacean referendum and the end to breeding Cetaceans into captivity.

 

Trevor Loke

Trevor Loke, Vision Vancouver

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

My favourite park board “facility” is the seawall. It connects many communities and brings our city together. I often walk the seawall and run into friends. It’s a place for me to exercise and appreciate the beauty of our city.

Note – Vision Vancouver Candidates provided a collective response to questions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. See entry for Catherine Evans.

 

Stuart Mackinnon

Stuart Mackinnon, Green Party

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

Too difficult to pick just one, but my neighbourhood Park: Riverfront Park in the East Fraserlands area is where I spend most of my free time. My dog and I walk along the river path 4-5 times every day. We see the sunrise and sunset, we watch the changing seasons and enjoy all weather here. We see otter and beaver, and birds of all kinds including herons and ducks and geese. It is an ideal urban park as it also offers open field space, children’s playgrounds and washrooms.

What are you top three priorities for the Park Board?

Parks that focus on natural features; accessible, safe public spaces for everyone; community-driven planning

Should the Park Board aim to improve greenspace opportunities in park-deficient neighborhoods? If so, what would you do to make this happen?

Yes. One way could be to use CACs to buy up properties when they come up for sale to establish new parks. Converting lane-ways to parkland where neighbourhoods agree. More traffic circles with community flower gardens. Creating cul de sacs by greening intersections in residential areas to calm traffic and add green space could be another idea.

Can the sustainability of Vancouver’s parks be improved? If so, what is one key strategy you would recommend?

Preserving all green open space in a form as natural as possible for future generations.

  • Creating policies to end the continuing erosion of parks by commercial enterprise.
  • Increasing the planting of native species in all parks and public spaces.
  • Using natural materials to build new children’s playgrounds.
  • Working with urban planners to develop parks that need less maintenance

Can Vancouver parks and greenspaces be better designed to respond to the needs of a growing and changing population? If so, what sorts of general changes would you like to see made?

More passive natural spaces with native species. Our children not only need places to play, but also places to enjoy and explore nature. We all need places of tranquil refuge from our busy lives. The animals and birds that help make our city lives enjoyable need places to nest and raise their young.

Anything else you would like people to know about you or your platform?

Vancouver parks and recreation facilities have been neglected and need to be made a priority again. People and community groups have been marginalized. It’s time for change. That includes putting community centres back where they belong — at the centre of our neighbourhoods — by giving them the independence to make planning decisions that reflect community needs and values. We need to clearly define decision-making processes and roles to better include the community. Since parks have become the backyards for many people, they should be maintained to enhance and enliven their urban experience. When the Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board works together with the community, our neighbourhoods become more liveable. Our existing parklands are precious and limited. Adding or replacing parkland is expensive so working together is key in this time of growth.

 

Anita Romaniuk

Anita Romaniuk, COPE

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

I lost my favourite Park Board facilities many years ago. I used to go to Marpole’s outdoor pool because it was on the way home from work, but it was closed after the 1996 season. Mount Pleasant outdoor pool, which was the closest to my home, was closed after the 2009 season. By the time it closed, Sunset outdoor pool which was the next closest had already been closed after the 2007 season. I really miss our neighbourhood outdoor pools! It is a long way for me to go to get to the outdoor pools on the northern waterfront (Kits, Second Beach, New Brighton). Marpole and Sunset were originally built to prevent youth from trying to swim in the Fraser River! No place to swim outdoors in the summer anywhere near to where I live! :-(

What are you top three priorities for the Park Board?

1. Resolve the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the Park Board and the Community Associations by sitting down with no preconditions and talking with respect as equals about the Joint Operating Agreement. 2. Adequate recreational facilities and park space for Vancouver’s growing population. 3. Improving public engagement by taking the Park Board out to the communities and talking face to face with people about their issues. On-line discussions are a welcome enhancement to public consultation but they can’t replace face-to-face discussions. People are social beings and interacting with each other is the best way to find common ground on Parks & Recreation issues.

Should the Park Board aim to improve greenspace opportunities in park-deficient neighborhoods? If so, what would you do to make this happen?

Definitely! Some areas of the city such as Grandview-Woodlands and Mount Pleasant are historically park-deficient. We should not be densifying the city without providing adequate park space. CAC’s (facilities) and DCLs (parks) are not keeping pace with the size of developments and these methods of levying fees on developments should be adequate to ensure that sufficient park space is provided. This does not include plazas on the top of buildings in a shopping centre (Oakridge!). Plazas are nice but they are not parks. Residents of parts of the city who have been promised park land for decades such as north-east False Creek should not be waiting decades for promised parks. I wholeheartedly support (ASAP!) the 10 acres riverfront park proposed for the vastly densifying Marpole neighbourhood.

Can the sustainability of Vancouver’s parks be improved? If so, what is one key strategy you would recommend?

More natural areas in parks, using native species as much as possible. Vancouver is naturally “wet” (we used to be a rainforest, after all!) and we should be looking a daylighting streams where feasible (in some areas of the city I think we are still waiting for separation of sewers and run-off drains) or at least using more natural ways of handling run-off (e.g. swales, water-processing vegetation, community gardens using natural and native methods of husbandry).

Can Vancouver parks and greenspaces be better designed to respond to the needs of a growing and changing population? If so, what sorts of general changes would you like to see made?

I believe that public engagement is the key. One-size does not fit all. While we all need green space, community centres, and recreation facilities, the demographics of each neighbourhood, existing facilities and parks, and satisfaction (or not) with what is there now and what is coming in the near future all differ. Walkability and forms of transportation that discourage cars should be part of the mix. Everyone has different ideas about design and we should encourage the public to participate,discuss, and find common ground on what is desirable for each neighbourhood.

Anything else you would like people to know about you or your platform?

As someone who “officially” becomes a senior next year, I am interested in increasing access to our parks and recreation facilities for all. This includes people with disabilities, low income families, racialized and LGBTQ. The Park Board has made strides on all of these, but more outreach and engagement is necessary and possible because some people still feel “left out” and their needs still not being met.
 
Sammie Jo Rumbaua

Sammie Jo Rumbaua, Vision Vancouver

What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

One of my favourite Park and Park Board Facility is Trout Lake Beach! The Trout Lake Beach is a fresh water beach with lifeguards! Plus I attend a lot of BBQ’s and pic-nics there so it’s great for friends and families to gather and spend time together. Plus there is an off leash dog park there too! There is something always happening in that area whether it’s the famers market, festival or events at the community centre!

Note – Vision Vancouver Candidates provided a collective response to questions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. See entry for Catherine Evans.

 

Coree Tull

Coree Tull, Vision Vancouver

 What is your favorite park or Park Board facility? Why?

My favorite park is John Hendry (Trout Lake) park. I have so many wonderful memories of meeting new people, walking my dog, having picnics in the sunshine and visiting the farmers market. Every spring and summer I play Fastpitch at John Hendry weekly, with an annual tournament every June, which brings over 16 teams from Vancouver and the Island together for a weekend of sports, laughter and community building.

Note – Vision Vancouver Candidates provided a collective response to questions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. See entry for Catherine Evans.

 

 

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