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

Candidate Profile – CARLA FRENKEL – #204 – (Vision Vancouver)

Top 3 priorities (from City of Vancouver Election webpage)

  1. Climate Action
  2. Decolonization
  3. Reciprocal Relationships

Platform (from City of Vancouver Election webpage)

I stand for community, sustainability and transformative action. Today we face monumental challenges of aging infrastructure, climate change, and reconciliation. From this arises unique opportunities to create resilient parks and community centres that serve the diverse needs of residents. My experience in community building, architecture, and stewardship position me to lead our city in creating robust parks and resources for everyone.

2022 Park Board Candidate Questions

1. You’re speaking to a friend from out of town, and they ask for a quick overview of “where things are at” with Vancouver’s parks and recreation facilities. What do you say?

Vancouver in large part is defined by its parks, which highlight our relationship to the water and connect us to our surroundings. The waterfront- and all the variety it encompasses is amazing, from Stanley Park, to the seawall, beaches to the Fraser River.

Each neighbourhood has a bustling community centre filled with robust programming, often adjacent to parks that act like a communal living room.

We are at a time when lots of parks and centres need more love- maintenance and re-visioning. This is a fantastic opportunity to renew them in a just manner, centering decolonization and climate resilience.

2. The topic of equity features heavily in both VanPlay (the Parks Board Masterplan) and the recently approved Vancouver Plan. What’s your take? Does Vancouver’s park system need to be more equitable and accessible? If yes, what changes would you propose and/or prioritize to make this happen?

Yes. Parks assets should be geographically distributed to provide access for all Vancouverites, and distributed in relation to population density. Above this, park land should be cared for in an equitable manner and programming should be subsidized for those in need. As a Park Board Commissioner, I will do a deep dive into examining the roots of inequity, understanding how resources are distributed. Part of this is improving physical accessibility and understanding barriers to access. I will actively work with communities to develop solutions, and learn from communities that have had success.

3. As a general principle, should parks aim to accommodate cycling paths within their boundaries? What are your thoughts on bikes and bike lanes in parks? (Please note: this is not specifically a question about Stanley Park).

I think this can be accomplished with a combination of decommissioning roads to create bike paths (like Lilian To Park) and creating well-signed/demarcated paths in parks. Care should be taken to minimize the loss of greenspace. Sufficient and covered bike parking is also needed. As a mother to 3 young cycling children, I see the need to create safe accessible pathways to foster active transportation from an early age.

4. What role, if any, do you see the Park Board playing in responding to the needs of people experiencing homelessness/houselessness and encampments?

Until housing is provided for all, this will be a challenge we continue to address in our parks. Park Board should work with the City and service providers to ensure safe sanitary parks, building a respectful relationship with those in encampments to address their needs. And I will actively work with city council to make strides in addressing the housing crisis.

5. Should Vancouver’s parks and recreation facilities play a part in supporting climate resilience or ecosystem restoration? If yes, how?

Definitely, without a doubt. There is so much we can do to address climate stress in parks- from pivoting to more climate appropriate plants, to providing more shade from trees, and places to cool off. With the increase of atmospheric rivers and aging stormwater infrastructure there is an amazing opportunity to be innovative with blue-green in parks, creating wetlands which also boost biodiversity. Climate change stresses our food systems, Park Board can help in supporting food justice by working with non-profits that grow food in park land. With every building renew comes an opportunity to utilize ecological design and innovation. We need to plan ahead, making the seawall and our waterfront infrastructure more resilient and designed in sync with natural forces.

6. Is having a Board of Parks and Recreation the best way to govern and manage Vancouver’s park system? If yes, why? If not, what would you propose in its place?

An elected Park Board ensures autonomy, advocacy and protection for our community and natural spaces. All levels of government need to work together to ensure money is allocated to address aging park infrastructure and maintenance. I support co-management with MST and look forward to how this will inform governance and management in the future.

7. What, if anything, do you think the Park Board should do to support/facilitate community activation/events and stewardship of park spaces and facilities?

Part of the magic of Vancouver comes from unique cultural events in parks, from the Vancouver Folk Fest, to the Still Moon Art Society, to Indigenous led events throughout the city; the list goes one and on. Park Board staff support activation of these spaces by local non-profits, artists, and community groups. I am a huge advocate of stewardship and would work to bolster Park Board relationships with park partners. As president of the Strathcona Community Garden, I have learned firsthand the power of a committed community.

8. In the past few years, the Park Board has taken steps towards reconciliation, decolonization, and co-management with MST First Nations. Would you continue this work? If yes, how?

Yes, I will actively work to build relationships in co-managing Stanley Park, fostering cooperation and learning as a settler. I will take lessons from experience to investigate co-management in other parks. The Park Board itself is a colonial structure; steps are being taken to reconcile this with the colonial audit and the Decolonization, Arts, and Culture department and action items in the Local Food System Action Plan. I actively support Indigenous-led stewardship of parks, like the Working Group for Indigenous Food Sovereignty and the Vancouver Urban Food Forest Foundation. More can be done to centre Indigenous voices and thinking in all the work the Park Board does, from programming to park and community centre renewal. I would advocate for this to be central to park planning, not as an afterthought or as an amenity.

9. If you could make changes to one park in the city – which park is it, and what would you do?

I would advocate for Northeast False Creek Park to come to fruition. I think it’s crucial to address our relationship with water, bolstering habitat, flood response, and provide access for water recreation sports – like paddling and swimming. I think a park of this scale and location is a defining feature for Vancouver. We need to holistically work with the Indigneous staff, liaisons and knowledge keepers to have the park grounded in a decolonized framework.

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

Since June, I have been actively cycling every bike path in the city, aiming to visit all of Vancouver’s parks and community centres. Along the way I learned more about the relationships of parks to each other, siting and adjacencies. I have studied trends, inequities and noticed where community activation makes a difference. I look forward to carrying this energy and curiosity to the Park Board.

Biography and Contact

Biography (City of Vancouver Election Webpage)

Carla has over a decade of experience in architecture; working on affordable housing, urban design, and environmental responsibility. As president of the Strathcona Community Garden, Carla coordinates hundreds of volunteers, leading stewardship of Vancouver’s largest community garden. There she spearheads a wetland project which manages stormwater while improving biodiversity. A mother of 3, she chairs her PAC’s school grounds committee.