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

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

Gwen GIESBRECHT – #201 – (COPE): “Over the past four years the majority of the elected board, myself included, has endeavored to take a more humane approach to address the very real difficulties in balancing the needs of the city’s unhoused that find shelter in public parks and the desire to maintain safety for all users. There are no easy solutions. Increasing sanitation and washroom access, more outreach to help people find shelter or housing that is acceptable to them. Under the law people who are not being offered alternate choices have the right to shelter overnight in parks. When those numbers swell decampment is a long and very complex matter involving all levels of government to participate. The current situation in Vancouver in regard to the number of people who have not been offered housing has developed over decades and will not be resolved in short order. What the PB can continue to do is seek to support those individuals in the ways they are able and continue to press for the need for an integrated approach to resolve.”

Tom DIGBY – #203 – (Green): “I’m a lawyer and I understand the law that people sheltering in Parks are legally allowed to remain there until the city can prove there is safe and adequate housing for them elsewhere. The park staff is already engaged in low conflict trauma-informed support services for park dwellers. This must continue until the city can establish safe and adequate supportive housing, such as tiny houses, temporary modular and permanent alternatives. The tone set by the PB should not encourage people to shelter in parks. But leaving the parks should be voluntary, when safe and adequate housing comes available.”

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

Andrea PINOCHET-ESCUDERO – #206 – (Vote Socialist): “Park Board should work with the city to house people, we need to create relationships with people through peer and outreach programs that assist people housed in parks to find housing. VOTE Socialist as a party believe that housing is a fundamental human right. We should have far more accessible, dignified public washroom in our city parks, as well as other simple amenities that benefit the whole community, whether they are housed or unhoused. I would push for more charging stations and water fountains, as well as more food security hubs where at-cost healthy local food could be made available for those in need. The Park Board has the power to add food and beverage services and facilities in more Parks and I would push for these powers to be used to advance the city’s food security goals.”

Caitlin STOCKWELL – #209Serena Jackson – #213Tiyaltelut Kristen Rivers – #226 (OneCity – Joint Submission): “We recognize that until there is appropriate housing for people who need it, some Vancouver residents will need to live in parks. Our platform includes the following points:

  • Acknowledge people live in parks and respect their right to shelter, day and night.
  • Work with community groups and leaders to identify areas suitable for tents that maintain the use of parks for everyone while people find housing that meets their needs.
  • Provide maps clearly showing areas where it’s safe to shelter and where campers can expect bylaw enforcement.
  • Use waterproof message boards to communicate with park residents.”

ROLLREGIRL – #211 – (Independent): No response provided.

John IRWIN – #212 – (Vision Vancouver): “Starting in 2019, the progressive majority on the Park Board, which included two of our candidates (Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon and Commissioner John Irwin) decided to not seek injunctions in the case of unhoused people sheltering in parks. As a result folks were able to shelter in parks at Oppenheimer and Strathcona Parks. When each of these parks were shifted back into park use, people were provided with housing, while some of it was not adequate in SROs, at least 600 people were housed.

The progressive majority also changed the Park Board bylaws to be in line with the BC courts by permitting unhoused residents to shelter in parks during the night, and during the day at the discretion of the General Manager of the Park Board. As a result of these changes many unhoused residents have sheltered in tents at Crab Park for many months, during both night and day. During the Strathcona period, washrooms and showers were provided to the unhoused sheltering there. We also worked hard to craft a Memorandum of Understanding with the province and City Council, which clearly lays out a path forward for housing people in modular housing and leased hotels. A skilled BC Housing staff member was hired by the Park Board to facilitate the shift for the unhoused to housing. We also continue to work with the other levels of government to find solutions for many of our unhoused residents. During this period, Commissioner John Irwin was the liaison to the unhoused residents and spent many days listening to folk’s concerns. We were also able to return the parks to the community as improved green spaces, once the unhoused moved to other areas.”

Tricia RILEY – #215 – (Green)“We need to support all communities across the city – and when it comes to some of our most vulnerable communities, we need to take an all-hands on deck approach. The Park Board should continue to connect people sheltering in parks with the supportive housing and services that they need by working with City Council, the Provincial Government, BC Housing, and social service organizations.”


Liam Murphy MENARD – #218 – (Independent): “I believe that the Park Board absolutely has a role to play in responding to the needs of those residents experiencing homelessness and living in our parklands, but I believe that role is more of a steward than anything else. The courts have ruled that the Park Board cannot displace residents living in parks if they do not have anywhere else to go, but Park Board Commissioners also serve those residents that live around the encampments: whose lives are being affected by the conditions in the parks and who have lost access to their neighbourhood park as a result of these encampments. The Park Board must advocate to other levels of government for support, as these encampments stretch far beyond the jurisdiction of the Park Board. In doing so, Commissioners can serve as a steward for those living in the encampments and those living in the neighbourhood around the encampment: answering questions, helping distribute resources, and serving as the level of government closest to (and most in touch with) the residents themselves. In turn, the other level of governments can provide the financial support needed to properly address this issue in a fair, collaborative, and humane way.”

Olga ZARUDINA – #220 – (NPA): “The Park Board needs to work together with the City, VPD, Provincial and Federal governments, in order to ensure safety – as this is the priority. Homelessness is on of the major issues of our city, which must be resolved. And at the same time, the local residents should feel safe and should be able to enjoy parks without having to be restricted to their access due to the encampments.”

Kumi KIMURA – #221 – (TEAM): “Homelessness is a major issue and every form of government s concern, there are specific rules of law that everyone needs to adhere too, but I feel as a PB commissioner, we would hire more park ranges and give them access to ticket people who do not use the park with in the guidelines and law, this would be a start and keep working with homeless advocate for direction and dialogue to help ease the burden.”

Michelle MOLLINEAUX – #223 – (TEAM): “I have mentioned earlier that people need to have a safe home and tents are not the answer. TEAM will work for a livable affordable city and making housing attainable for everyone. We will focus on delivering homes at a lower cost, including for lower income residents, the homeless, and those suffering from housing insecurity. We will get there by:

  • TEAM will use all municipal tools available, as well as partnerships with senior levels of government, to encourage more secure, affordable housing for all Vancouverites by:
  • Using neighbourhood planning and accurate population growth data to identify the existing and future housing types and tenures that are needed to affordably accommodate existing and future residents
  • Providing a mix of non-market and market housing, for rentals and ownership, including co-ops, co-housing, secondary suites, multiple conversion dwellings, infill, laneways, multiplexes, townhouses, and apartments, planned in partnership with local residents at the scale of each neighbourhood
  • Stabilizing land values by ending inflationary and disruptive spot rezonings that ignore neighbourhood plans without contributing to community amenities
  • Using City-owned lands for more affordable housing
  • Working with provincial and federal government housing and services agencies to ensure they provide the non-market and supportive social housing and services our city needs to house residents who are lower income, housing insecure, or homeless (see more under Health & Safety For all)
  • Providing affordable housing incentives based on transparent and open project details, including financing and operating agreements, that fit into the scale, context and zoning of each neighbourhood, a mix of income levels and unit sizes, with needed services, supports and amenities and through meaningful ongoing consultation with the community in the zoning & development processes and good neighbour agreements for operating
  • Adjusting permit requirements and climate action regulations to retain and renovate existing homes for more affordable rental options such as secondary suites, laneway homes, and infill.”

James BUCKSHON – #225 – (TEAM): “The mission of the Vancouver Park Board is “to provide, preserve, and advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit all people, communities, and the environment.” To fulfill this mandate, the parks should not become permanent homes for people, and when homelessness issues arise, Park Board needs to consult with both the City, but more importantly BC Housing to provide reasonable homes for these people.”

Tracy D. SMITH – #230 – (Independent): “I believe all levels of city government need to work together to take care of the needs of all community members. There are services that parks can provide and there are ways the city can work with the province and the federal government as well. I will look into all these opportunities so we can all work together to help everyone.”

Craig STEVEN – #231 – (Independent): “I will support law enforcement in the removal of anyone putting up illegal structures, on drugs, intoxicated or damaging green spaces. Parks Board job is to maintain recreation facilities and parks, and to make sure they are accessible for all, not solve homelessness, we need to stay in our lane.”