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

Top 3 priorities – City of Vancouver candidate form

  1. More Community Gardens
  2. Less Expensive One Cards
  3. Carbon Sequestering

Platform – City of Vancouver candidate form

“Creating more community gardens in city parks. Giving tax breaks to developers for temporary gardens & expecting outside groups to create gardens is not working. Every person who wants garden space should have it.
One Cards should be less expensive, the bar for a subsidized card should be higher & people should have easier access to community centers.
Sustainable practices and using parks to sequester atmospheric carbon. A truly “Greenest City”

1. What is your favourite park or park board facility in Vancouver, and why?

Park: Jericho. Lovely trails, wetlands, wildlife, good swimming beaches. There are always people jogging, cycling, playing sports & having family picnics & bbq’s. What’s not to like? Facility: Trout Lake. My regular gym stop. Nice layout, bright with great views of John Hendry Park & it has a fabulous steam room.

2. We’ll be sharing the top three priorities that you provided the City of Vancouver, but we want to know: which one of your three priorities are you most passionate about, and why?

Community Gardens. With that one thing, we can encompass so much of what I feel is important. Giving people much needed space to grow some of their own food, creating a stronger sense of community by connecting neighbor through shared activity. I think they beautify parks and increase the family friendly feel of them. AND: in some small way helps to sequester atmospheric carbon. A drop in the bucket, I know, but with enough drops… Whether it’s a single person who want’s a bit of food security & basil. Or parents who want to show their kids the magic of growing food from seed, I think everyone who want’s a space to grow things, should have access to it.

3. Vancouver is a growing city! What are your ideas for ensuring that the city’s parks and recreation facilities can respond to the needs of an increasing and diversifying population?

This is a matter of funding & responding to local area needs. My first initiative would be to ask city hall to centralize CAC money. Currently, developer fees paid to the city are used for improvements to the area where the development has occurred. I would like that money to go into a central fund which is available to local communities and parks to draw from on a needs based basis. Specifically when it comes to cultural needs and practices. What that looks like would be guided by the neighborhoods and people directly affected.

4. Given the high cost of land in the city, what suggestions do you have for how the Park Board should approach the creation of new park spaces?

There are some unique opportunities on the horizon. Hastings Race Course, with their lease about to end & there’s IF the viaducts come down. Both are excellent opportunities to expand our park network. I also think we can tie the housing issue into this. The COV should be looking at opportunities to buy homes next to parks, run them as social housing rentals until such time as more non market housing is built & then incorporate these properties into existing parks.

5. What, if any, role do you see the Park Board playing in responding to critical social issues such as homelessness, the opioid epidemic, and social isolation?

A topic very close to my heart. I volunteered with the OPS (overdose Prevention Society) for 6 months, shortly after Sarah Blyth started it up. And I do believe that the park board has a role to play. On the opioid crisis: I would like all park maintenance staff and rangers trained in the use of Naloxone, carry kits and sharps containers on their regular rounds. I’m also radical enough to suggest that we star a pop up safe injection site program. Identify the parks where there are regular drug users and follow Sara’s model: pavilion tent, tables chairs and clean equipment, trained staff/volunteers. On homelessness: First and foremost, our anti camping bylaw is unconstitutional and needs to go. Of course, the City needs to step up with more Modular Housing, and a long term plan for permanent social housing. In the short term, I would like to find appropriate areas to set up basic support services in our parks: toilets, water, cleaning stations and allow those who need to camp to do so. On social isolation: This ties directly back into my first platform point, increasing the number of permanent community gardens in parks. Get neighbors growing food and flowers side by side, give them a chance to make those connections.

6. In the past few years, the Park Board has taken steps to acknowledge First Nations cultures and the impacts of colonization on local Indigenous communities. Would you continue this work? If yes, how?

Yes, this is important work & I applaud the steps already taken by the current board. I would like to see Park Board initiate a reclamation project in our parks. By working in liaison with local First Nations, replant areas of certain parks with food and medicine plants that FN’s used to harvest. Give FN people aces to continue traditional harvesting and stewardship of these areas. In the longer term, humbly ask if said First Nations would be willing to engage in educational programs, teaching non first nations about these plants, what they’re used for and what their cultural significance is.

7. How can Vancouver’s parks and recreation facilities best respond to the challenges posed by climate change?

Again, this ties back into my ‘more gardens’ platform plank. I think that tree canopy is also crucial. We’ve lost far too many mature trees in the last decade to rampant development. We need to reverse that trend in our parks and streets. We also need to continue encouraging more trees on private property, I have 2 trees in my (rental) yard from the Park Board $10 tree program. The apples & figs are lovely. We also need to examine our park maintenance strategy & find ways to make them as low footprint as is reasonably possible.

8. What, if any, role do you think privately owned companies should play in the management, operation, or naming/branding of Park board facilities?

Let me state this loud and clear: I am NO FAN of P3 arrangements, especially when it involves large corporate entities being allowed to advertise in our parks.

9. What, if any, role do you feel that neighbourhoods or community groups should play in the stewardship of park spaces and facilities?

A significant role. Neighborhood people and associations know what their community needs.

10. Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your platform?

I’m an activist, environmentalist, highly trained medic & if you hadn’t already guessed an avid & passionate gardener. I have two guiding principles when it comes to Park Board governance: The first comes from the guiding principle behind Triage: To do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The second is about local consultation: Nothing about us without us.

 

More Information

City of Vancouver – Park Board candidate webpage