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

Question 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?

Gwen GIESBRECHT – #201 – (COPE): “Things are pretty exciting with some of the work being undertaken through a lens of Decolonization/Reconciliation through the PB and with the leadership of the department Decolonization/Reconciliation Arts & Culture, & Manager Rena Soutar.”

Tom DIGBY – #203 – (Green): “I tell my friends that Vancouver easily has the most outstanding urban parks and recreation in North America, perhaps the world. The combination of Stanley Park, QE Park, Van Dusen/Bloedel and the stunning beaches with mountain views are utterly unique in the world. After pausing for dramatic effect, I then say there is a lot we can do to improve the parks. Our parks and rec facilities are suffering under the climate emergency. We need to reduce the carbon footprint of our parks not just aiming for net-zero operational carbon, but by using lower carbon materials in construction. And we need to keep our parks at the heart of our urban ecosystem. Parks are a vital source for pollinator corridors, and migratory pathways inside the city. These are the primary values of our Park system that we need to promote and encourage.”

Carla FRENKEL – #204 – (Vision Vancouver): “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.”

Andrea PINOCHET-ESCUDERO – #206 – (Vote Socialist): “A huge reinvestment is needed for our park and recreation facilities. Our social infrastructure neglected and insufficient, community centres and pools are in need of renewal and too small in size and number for our growing population. In addition, the programming doesn’t sustain everyone who wants to participate. For decades we have underinvested in our crucial public facilities, and in public spaces in general.

To give just one glaring example, there is less ice skating surface in the West End of Vancouver today than there was 107 years ago when the Vancouver Millionaires won the Stanley Cup.

We are overdue to make some generational investments in our public spaces, facilities and programming. We need more outdoor and indoor pools, more community centres, neighbourhood houses, and we need to animate more of our existing public spaces by adding play and leisure features for all ages.”

Caitlin STOCKWELL – #209; Serena Jackson – #213; Tiyaltelut Kristen Rivers – #226 (OneCity – Joint Submission): – “Vancouver is a beautiful city. We are fortunate to have 250 parks, public beaches, and several community centres, ice rinks, pools, sports fields, and playgrounds. However, these public goods are not equitably distributed across the city. Neighbourhoods on the West Side have greater access to green space and significantly more street trees than those in East and South Vancouver. As a city, we also some great challenges when it comes to our parks and recreation system; much of our infrastructure is aging and must be upgraded or replaced in order to be seismically safe and resilient to a changing climate. As our city grows, we must invest in quality green spaces and recreation facilities for every community — parks are our shared backyards, community centres are our shared living rooms, and all of our neighbours are invited!”

ROLLERGIRL – #211 – (Independent): No answer provided.

John IRWIN – #212 – (Vision Vancouver): “Our parks provided a very key and important role during the pandemic, as people headed to them to find refuge from being stuck in their houses and to recreate at levels not seen before. While some criticize the current state of our parks, I would tell my friend that they provide important space for all Vancouver residents to play, relax, and have contact to some aspects of nature. I would take them on rides and strolls through our parks, especially Stanley Park, to enjoy the feeling of moving through quite natural areas by using active transport.”

Tricia RILEY – #215 – (Green): “I’d tell my friend that Vancouver’s parks and recreation facilities are some of the best in the world and offer amazing opportunities to get active and connect with the community. There are definitely things we need to focus on going forward though, for example: refurbishing some of our aging community centres, building in climate resilience in our infrastructure (especially along the seawall and beaches) maintaining and growing our tree canopy across the city, and increasing access to spaces and events year round that can make our city more vibrant and social!”

Liam Murphy MENARD – #218 – (Independent): “Parks and recreation facilities in Vancouver are at a very interesting time in its history. We have spent much of the last decade investing in the infrastructure needed to support environmentally-friendly outdoor recreation activities – including a comprehensive biking system – but in doing so, we have had to redistribute funding away from our community centres and other core recreation sites. This upcoming election is especially important in many respects, but core of all is ensuring that we can continue to build on the biking system that has now become such an iconic part of Vancouver living while also starting to distribute funding back into our community centres, swimming pools, and other recreation sites.”

Olga ZARUDINA – #220 – (NPA): Vancouver is a beautiful city that offers so much, however, as a person planning to raise a family here, I am concerned about the state of community centres. The City (and mainl6y the Park Board) needs to show more “love” to our community centres. Their maintenance is well overdue, which is a shame. Community centres are a core of Vancouver community life and family recreation facilities. Thus, NPA majority will ensure demanding funding for community centres from the City Council, as well as working closely with community centre boards and responding to their issues accordingly. As for parks and beaches, they lack maintenance and most importantly – safety. I cannot and do not want to imagine children playing in parks and stepping on needles. This is absolutely unacceptable and the NPA majority will be working out ways and solutions to clean the parks and enforce the law on all who are using parks in ways that are illegal and not acceptable by society.

Kumi KIMURA – #221 – (TEAM): “I would let them know that we have the best parks and facilities but are a bit dated and not properly maintained…however should we get a new elected Park Board we would go back to core values and bring everything up to par and bring back what has made Vancouver so special.”

Michelle MOLLINEAUX – #223 – (TEAM): ” I love Vancouver having the opportunity to showcase how great our parks, recreation and tourist attractions is something I have taken pride in. I would let them know that we do have some of the best parks and recreation facilities, however for the last few years they have not been maintained, difficulty to access, reduced services, community centers that are in serious need for upgrades, and in some parks highly unsafe. We also have not added any new parks, sports fields and community centers to address population growth. Also, as a parent, we have very limited sports fields and programs for children, youth and even for seniors. Unfortunately, the Park Board has also lost sight that our Parks and Recreation facilities are supposed to be access for ALL Vancouverites across the city and has redirected the limited funding to projects that are not equitable for the benefit of All of Vancouver. I would explain that the degradation of our parks and facilities is due to the Park Board have fallen very short in properly engaging with all communities, neighbourhoods, sports and fitness clubs, tour companies, businesses, and to the multitude of associations that are all so interconnected to Park Board and for the betterment of Vancouver’s vitality.

Finally, I would let them know that Vancouver is at a critical point in saving our Park Board and the future of our parks and recreation due to the current landscape at the Board. We have also been told that new festivals and events will no longer be allowed at parks and only those that are grandfathered in will be allowed. Events and festivals in our parks are vital to communities, businesses, and tourism. It is also important to have our parks well engaged with communities, fully accessed, and used by everyone. Afterall, isn’t that why our Parks used to be so admired globally?”

James BUCKSHON – #225 – (TEAM): “For your visit to Vancouver, you are going to want to start with our great beaches. Thy stretch all the way from Spanish Banks on Vancouver’s west side, past Locarno, Jericho, Kits Beach, and Vanier Park. Cross the bridge to downtown and continue along the waterfront to Stanley Park, where you can walk, cycle or drive around the whole park. You can visit one of our many great recreations centres and go for a swim, work out, ice skate, play tennis or get out onto a field with a ball. Then head downtown to our great public space at Vancouver Art Gallery and Robson Square. Take a walk through downtown and Gastown and consider stopping for a beverage at an outdoor patio in Yaletown. If you can, get over to Commercial Drive, and pack a lunch and go to Trout Lake, as well as Queen Elizabeth Park, a former quarry that as tuned into a park. You will probably by then so have a nap while, you think about the sights, smells and sounds of beautiful Vancouver.”

Tracy D. SMITH – #230 – (Independent): “We are a very fortunate city to have 250 public parks and beaches. We are always moving forward as a progressive city to provide more access, opportunities and inclusion for everyone and hopefully, we will continue in this direction.”

Craig STEVEN – #231 – (Independent): “We have parks that are filthy with garbage and crime, anything from illegal shelters, defecating, public intoxication, littering, drugs, and assaults. Also, that radical ideologists want to destroy Langara Golf Course.”