Paola Qualizza (chair; local economy) (she/her) started exploring the interplay of urban geography and local economics while studying at SFU, and has always been interested in the ‘playful edge’ where economic activity meets public space. Paola has been Chair of the VPSN since 2014, and also leads the Network’s local economy portfolio. In addition to her work with the VPSN, she is a co-founder at Groundswell Alternative Business School.
Mash Salehomoum – (vice chair) (she/her) stumbled into her love of public spaces through her interest in nature. After graduating, she started working in regional parks, where the access and programming gaps quickly became apparent to her. As a child of immigrants, she knows how integral a sense of community is for everyone in order to feel happy and secure. As the first point of engagement for so many people, well-designed public spaces can play a key role in fostering this sense of community. Mash is a big believer in inviting people in and supporting opportunities for cross-cultural connections through food, art, music, and play. Mash is a project manager at Park People and sits on the Community Advisory Board at Gordon Neighbourhood House. She loves bringing a little whimsy to her public spaces. Remember, always stop and read the community board!
Stewart Burgess (secretary-treasurer; democratic spaces) specializes in specific transformations of public spaces. He has been a part of the VPSN’s Park(ing) Day activities, the Skytrain Halloween Party, and various Robson Square activations such as the Polka Dot Piano (in collaboration with CityStudio’s Keys to the Street). He joined the VPSN Board of Directors in 2013.
Miriam Esquitin is inspired by social change and community building, and has worked at local and international non profits in arts, education, civic engagement, access to justice, and economic development. Currently, Miriam is the Executive Director of Vancouver Mural Festival, a non-profit organization that connects people and places through murals and public events. She is also Co-Founder and Director of Polymer Dance, a community-based dance troupe that has been running for 13 years with the vision that “Dance is for Everybody and Dance is for everywhere”.
Saba Farmand is a Landscape Architect and a certified arborist. While he spends his day time hours working in the Planning, Urban Design, & Sustainability group at the City of Vancouver, Saba also has a passion project that documents and promotes boulevard gardens. @eastvan_blvd_gardens has garnered local and national media attention, including a cover story feature on the Globe & Mail in 2022, and has raised thousands of dollars for a local non-profit, the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, through its by-donation walking tours. The initiative has led Saba to be a guest speaker with Pecha Kucha Vancouver, the UBC Friends of the Botanical Gardens Society, the UBC Horticultural Training Program, and the Vancouver Interior Design Show. In addition to his work at the City and on the Boulevard Garden initiative, Saba has served as a member in environmental and urban planning advisory groups for the District of West Vancouver. When not hunting for new boulevard gardens, Saba enjoys playing basketball, spending time in nature, and urban exploration.
Tami Szuchman has spent 20 years working, studying, and teaching urban matters. A passionate urban planner and architect, Tami has expertise in creating sustainable and complete communities, urban connections, public spaces, and environmental and cultural protection zones through participatory planning processes. Much of her work has been undertaken in Brazil, where she was a professor for 10 years teaching Urban Projects, Landscaped Design, and Urban and Regional Planning at the university. She also coordinated courses on urban and landscape design in other cities in Latin America and spent a number of years collaborating on international seminaries that promoted the exchange of city-building experiences. For the last five years, Tami has been living and working in Vancouver. In her spare time she loves to be outside, exploring the cultural life of the city.
Interested in joining the VPSN Board of Directors? Drop us an email and let’s chat! info [at] vancouverpublicspace.ca
Other Team Members
Andrew Pask (executive director) founded in the VPSN in 2006. Trained as both an anthropologist and city planner, in the Netherlands and Canada, Andrew has worked with municipalities and non-profit organizations across the country. A member of the Placemaking Leadership Council, Placemaking Canada, and Placemaking X, Andrew appears regularly in the media and has been featured in the Globe and Mail for his innovative work on public space planning and advocacy. Since 2005 he has also worked as a social planner and neighbourhood planner for the City of Vancouver. More recently, he joined UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (UBC SALA) as an Adjunct Professor, where his courses focus on neighbourhood design, public space and placemaking.