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

Question 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?

Gwen GIESBRECHT – #201 – (COPE): “Yes. A number of ways, some already in progress and lots of space to expand. One important equity piece is creating East-West equity in the areas of green space & canopy, facilities & amenities. For too long there has been emphasis on development of park/waterfront/street & boulevard trees that support better canopy, and a concentration of out door aquatic facilities on the west side. Increasing these feature to create better East-West equity it would follow that there would also be better equity across socioeconomic divides and would allow better support for the work of community centres in providing community development opportunities in neighbourhoods that have disproportionate numbers of vulnerable and at risk residents.”

Tom DIGBY – #203 – (Green): “Yes, the park system needs to be more equitable and accessible. The Park Board has identified specific areas of the city which are underserved with public spaces, parks and recreation facilities. We must resist the neighbourhood pressure groups seeking specific assets (swimming pools or skating rinks) when there are other, perhaps less organized areas, which are clearly in need due to population growth. The word “accessible” in this question is somewhat ambiguous. Regarding people with mobility challenges, we must make our parks accessible and enhance access opportunities for those with mobility challenges. “Accessible” also means that we need to minimize financial barriers for those residents who have financial challenges.”

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

Andrea PINOCHET-ESCUDERO – #206 – (Vote Socialist): “I would expand the Leisure Access Program to make to the programs and community centre more accessible. I would make sure this is communicated to people living in Vancouver through social media, bus stop advertising and good old outreach to nonprofit housing, coop housing and schools. I would advocate for safer bike and roll lanes so everyone could use them. I would provide charging stations at parks and community centres for mobility devices. I would add a free shuttle bus to Stanley park to make it more accessible to folks who don’t drive or roll. I would advocate for upgrades and restoration to parks in the south and east of Vancouver, which have historically been underserved compared to the west side of the City.”

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

John IRWIN – #212 – (Vision Vancouver): “Yes, our park and recreation system needs to be more equitable. During our first term, the progressive commissioners passed motions to lower fees. If re-elected I would continue to work to lower fees, while finding the means to continue to support the Community Centre Associations, which are the volunteer backbone of our system. I would also work hard to increase the Park Board’s share of tax revenues, now at only 8%, to help to renew and increase both park space and recreational facilities. I would also collaborate with other commissioners to continue to increase the Park Board share of Development Cost Levies (restored to 32% by advocacy by the current board after hitting a low of 16%).”

Caitlin STOCKWELL – #209Serena Jackson – #213Tiyaltelut Kristen Rivers – #226 (OneCity – Joint Submission): “Yes – there has already been good work that we want to continue. Greater equitability and accessibility are cornerstones of our platform. We will:

  • Provide free access to swimming pools and community centres for those who need it and prioritize equity and access in determining fees.
  • Require competitive sports events in parks to provide discounted fees to people who need them.
  • Support 2SLGBTQ+ programs like Trans Swim and deliver on recommendations from the Trans and Gender Variant Working Group for safe access to parks and community centres.
  • Ensure adaptive equipment such as ice sleds and water wheelchairs are available and in good condition.
  • Develop culturally relevant programming for community centres and libraries.
  • Expand facilities, programs, and services at Carnegie Community Centre in the Downtown Eastside based on local needs and priorities.”

Tricia RILEY – #215 – (Green)“It’s no secret that not all areas of the city have the same access to green space, recreational sites and programming. We need to prioritize equitable access to parks and programming across the city so that all Vancouverites can enjoy them. What this means is when we’re approaching new projects (be it pools, skateboard parks, or community centre upgrades) we need to ensure we’re providing fair value to all neighbourhoods and prioritize those areas which maybe haven’t had the same attention. One specific project that comes to mind is advancing the outdoor pool in Oak Park.

When we’re thinking about access, we also need to consider equitable access and support for all individuals coming to our parks and facilities. This means ensuring all our sites are accessible to meet diverse mobility needs, and prioritizing the creation of more clean and accessible public washrooms with gender-neutral options, to remove barriers that limit people’s enjoyment of our parks and recreation centres.”

Liam Murphy MENARD – #218 – (Independent): “I believe that equity must be taken into account when making decisions of when and where to upgrade our facilities and parks. Many folks living in East Vancouver and south of 16th Avenue are currently lacking the recreation centres, amenities, and park space that those living in the central and western parts of the city have daily access to. I would like to focus on building a new swimming pool and turf field south of 16th Avenue, while exploring the possibility of doing the same in East Vancouver. When deciding which community centres to renovate and upgrade, those centres that cater to populations most at risk should be the first to be upgraded. The COVID-19 shutdown really highlighted the mobility and accessibility issues that many folks living in Chinatown face. Addressing these concerns must be top of mind, but they must be done in a manner that amplifies the voices of those living through these complex barriers.”

Olga Zarudina – #220 – (NPA): “To make it simple, NPA is pro having more access to any active leisure facilities, including the creation of more public pools. Vancouver population is growing rapidly, and with all the climate changes, we need more pools, more green spaces, more access to parks and recreation facilities. Most importantly – safe access.”

Kumi Kimura – #221 – (TEAM): “I am strong on equitable/equality and would bring in an Disabilities advocate that will hold us accountable to have our parks, facilities being accessible and equitable…currently there are places where persons with disabilities cannot access, namely Stanley Park and need to look at the access though the lens of someone who is disabled.”

Michelle MOLLINEAUX – #223 – (Independent): “While the Vancouver Park Board works hard to provide equitability and accessibility plans. There is definitely room for adjustment and add more. However, ensuring the funding to fully execute on the plans are the key to ensuring we have the right equitability and accessibility plans in place and that it is reflective to ALL Vancouverites. Where we can do more are:

  1. While the city has 250 parks, we do not meet the number of parks and proper green spaces needed based on population growth. We also need more parks in east and south Vancouver, and while some areas the parks serve mostly low-income households are, on average, significantly smaller, ignored to maintenance, and unsafe. Unfortunately, this now leads to lack of use by communities. While we have a good a plan and some conversations about park equity we now need to work on implementing solutions that will treat all parks as the same.
  2. While some people think it is “okay” to have tent cities in our Parks this is not fair to the people who are forced to live in parks due to the current situation. Tent Cities are not safe for the people who live in them – assaults, stabbings, rape, exploitation of the vulnerable and illicit activities all occur in these tent cities and for some to say “let’s make the people comfortable while they live in the tents” is completely inhumane and cruel. We need to work with the Federal, Provincial and City Hall to provide real care, housing, and recovery so that they are in a healthy and safe environment.
  3. We should be doing more to celebrate all cultures, specifically for First Nations and Indigenous heritage as part of Truth and Reconciliation. By expanding more festivals, events, public art in our parks and facilities fosters community pride, teach people new things, compassion towards other cultures, and strengthen relationships.
  4. Vancouver Park Board’s philosophy of parks and recreation is the idea that all people—no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation—have access to quality programs, facilities, places and spaces that make their lives and communities great. Those who identify as LGBTQ2s+ have historically faced discrimination, often in the form of offensive comments, threats or harassment, and violence, but our Park Board is uniquely positioned to offer inclusive spaces, places and programs and provide welcoming support. We need to further expand:
  • Creating welcoming and inclusive facilities that provide safety and comfort to the LGBTQ2S+ community
  • Family programs; including, before/afterschool and out-of-school time programs, summer camps and early childhood programs that are cognizant of all family units
  • Health and wellness programs, like group exercise classes or outdoor adventure programs, that explicitly state they are inclusive of all community members
  • LGBTQ2S+ outreach programs, youth groups and mentoring services
  • LGBTQ2S+ and straight alliances to expand connections to local social service providers.”

James BUCKSHON – #225 – (TEAM): “Vancouver’s park system strives to be equitable but there is always room for improvement. The city is home to 250 parks and some areas have more parks than others. The DTES is a bit underserved with parks, and those parks are in areas with complex homeless needs. The parks are also necessary for the residents living in the area. The City would be well-advised to use any available vacant municipal property to create a few more parks. In other areas of the city, more and more residents are living in apartments and condos, and need more outdoor green space, that could possibly be worked into the development permits that new buildings require. Indigenous groups should have input into the parks, and public arts and culture events would be welcome.”

Tracy D. Smith – #230 – (Independent): “I would love to see expansion of the Leisure Access Program, more bursaries and scholarships for students/families and more lifeguard training.”

Craig STEVEN – #231 – (Independent)“Parks and facilities can be more accessible with adequate parking/including handicap spots and Stanley Park needs vehicle/bike lanes go back to original operation for better access for families, seniors, and those with mobility challenges, not to mention the businesses that are impacted.”