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

Top 3 priorities (City of Vancouver Candidate Form)

  1. Sustainable systems
  2. Safe, clean Parks
  3. Just, honest policy

Platform (City of Vancouver Candidate Form)

“Greens will prioritize ecological, social and economic sustainability for Park Board projects. We will prioritize collaboration and listening as team principles. Greens will promote reconciliation, healthy recreation, and active transportation. We will help to provide a welcoming and inclusive standard at every Park Board facility, for all ages, genders, abilities and backgrounds. We will look to the lessons of the past and the status quo to plan and build a brighter future.”

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

Oh my, tough question; I guess I have a special place in my heart for Sunrise Park because I spent much of my limited free time there this past summer. I’m a member of the Strathcona Stevedores Baseball Club of the East Van Baseball League and we played nearly all of our games at Sunrise. Lately though I’m at Kensington and Kingcrest a lot because they’re close to home and my 1 year old daughter is pretty keen on playground exploration. She likes pools too. I don’t really have a favourite. I love our Parks.

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?

Sustainable systems and just policy. The science & evidence on climate, biodiversity and ecological systems breakdown is the largest threat to our well-being, in my view. I did my graduate work in a science faculty at UBC and came away understanding that at all levels of government we need to place ecological healing and sustainability at the heart of policy. There are different avenues to get there but building and preserving sustainable systems must be “main-stream.” I want to live ecological, social and economic justice. I want it for my child and her generation. I don’t believe they can exist independently from one another. That drives me.

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 huge issue moving forward. The cost of adding new green & community amenities is daunting but it must also be viewed as an investment in out long-term health as Vancouver. We desperately need to value the existing infrastructure we already have in the system. We need to keep our operation at a standard we can all be proud of and grow it in response to the shifts in population and usage. The go-to is to require developers to provide amenities and green space as a step in their approval process. I feel like there are issues with that as a primary policy. I’d like to see city council value and emphasize Parks as the necessary component of a healthy community they truly are.

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?

This is a tough one. We are not going to see another Stanley Park or QE. It’s just too expensive to do so. That said, we need green space now more than ever. One idea is to increase the number of “pocket Parks” as one might see in the Montreal model. There are a few examples around Vancouver where that has been pretty interesting and effective. We have included in our platform the development of a net positive park replacement policy, that would potentially grow park space & certainly signal that we deeply value the space we already have. I think the PB will have to be creative and very attentive to opportunities to grow green space as we continue to evolve as a city. It won’t be easy but it’s very important that we push for more and better green space and 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?

Our parks are often the front line for social issues. We must exercise compassion and be committed to acting on what research is available. PB will not solve social issues alone but there is an important role for it to play in collaboration with other levels of government and community organizations. Collaboration, open-mindedness and again, compassion should be guiding tenets. I want to live in a community that supports its most vulnerable and works hard to ensure that no one is left behind. Park Board Commissioners have to ensure this is our baseline.

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?

Absolutely. I believe we need to prioritize the de-colonization narrative. We need community based research and outreach to inform what the best and most effective steps are in reconciliation and healing. It took a long time for us to get to where we are and it will take a long time to get to a place of true cultural health. That’s ok, so long as we are moving in the right direction. Education, listening, sharing stories of our colonial past and present must be a priority for indigenous and non-indigenous alike. The more we can understand, share and learn the better we will be. The PB has taken good steps of late on this issue. I would love to have the chance to be involved in the further development and implementation of what comes next.

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

It’s going to be the biggest challenge of our lives I’m afraid. For one, we need to make sure there are accessible, well managed green spaces where people can connect with the natural world. Kids need to play and grow amongst nature if they are to understand its magic and value. We need to be keenly aware of water use and implement conservation standards. We need to lessen our emissions and impact. We need to plant trees & prioritize a healthy biodiversity. We need to lead by example by shifting the systems that make up our Park Board to a place of true ecological sustainability.

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

I’m not a supporter of private sector involvement or commercialization of Park space. I understand that it is already happening. The need for Parks to generate revenue has often been tied to private sector involvement. It’s something I think needs to be managed very carefully and limited. Parks are public spaces that belong to all of us. They should be accessible, managed based on equitable values. I feel PB staff should manage and maintain our networks and assets.

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

Park, facility and Community Centre users, in addition to Parks workers, are the true experts in many cases. I think community groups should be a vital partner in the creation, management and implementation of policy. They are a wealth of knowledge and an incredible resource. There should me open, transparent communication and collaboration between PB and community groups. That should be the norm, not the exception.

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

I am a life-long Vancouverite and I grew up on the ball diamonds and in the ice rinks around town. As a younger man I was a Parks worker for over a decade, in the gardens mostly. I now have a graduate degree from UBC, work that focused on sustainable systems, grounded here in Vancouver. I am the Head Farmer and Executive Director of Inner City Farms Society, a non-profit urban farm that grows (non-certfied) organic food here in our community. I run an urban farming internship and teach young people to get involved and get their hands dirty (in the context of sustainable agriculture and food systems.) I am dedicated to the betterment of our community & I am particularly supportive of collaborative management and teamwork.

More information:

City of Vancouver Park Board Candidates webpage