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

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

Gwen GIESBRECHT – #201 – (COPE): “Yes. In terms of recreation facilities co-location of rinks & pools that allows for heat exchange systems is very much a topic for consideration. Programs initiated over the past term that I supported in low turf maintenance and modifying water features so that they are not being fed with potable drinking water, park renewal planning that promotes restoration of the local ecology in parks are some of the ways. Community Centres and water play parks are important cooling destinations in extreme heat and opening community centre space for overnight warming in extreme cold. Design of new parks that work within the guidelines of the RainCity Strategy to better utilize rainfall run off.”

Tom DIGBY – #203 – (Green): “The climate emergency is the issue of our times. It is the over-arching context in which I place all the decisions I will make as a commissioner. How does that translate to specific actions? For me, we need to ensure our park facilities are designed for net-zero carbon generation. Further, they must be constructed from materials with the lowest embodied carbon emissions. The new $140m Vancouver Aquatics Centre is an opportunity to showpiece these criteria.”

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

Andrea PINOCHET-ESCUDERO – #206 – (Vote Socialist)“Yes, absolutely. The city has been behind in meeting its goals to expand the overall tree canopy and we should look at our park space to see where trees can be added. As a Park Commissioner, I would work to add add more natural wild greenery friendly to wildlife and pollinators in parks, in consultation and harmony with Indigenous planting principles whenever possible.

By adding more local community centres, pools, and rec centres, we will also reduce the need for families to drive like they are now. Local community centres should prioritize parking for disabled people and for bus drop-off, with minimal public space used as parking lots. The current model of building “destination” community pools and centres like Hillcrest is not a climate-friendly model.

Finally, our public parks and recreation centres can be used much more broadly to play an education role. We can add a lot more educational signage about climate change, and we can provide programming and free meeting space for youth and other community members organizing for climate action.”

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

John IRWIN – #212 – (Vision Vancouver): “Yes, we can continue to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings, pools, fleets, and equipment. I fully supported Commissioner Demer’s motion to phase out gas burning equipment for electric. Also, similar to the Shift delivery company, we could have staff explore employing more active transport modes within the park system, including carrying small crews and light tools.

In terms of Stanley Park, we can achieve gains by vastly increasing active transport with the Park Drive bike lane, while also providing climate action with an electric shuttle for those with disabilities (these folks could also be provided with more parking spaces).

Regarding resilience, we need to plant many more trees in fairly deep street wells, which could be fed by channeling storm water through them, as the city is starting to do under the rain city strategy. We can also bring storm water flows to the surface and re-create streams and ponds to allow for more infiltration into the City’s aquifers. These stream areas would create vibrant parks that would provide habitat and be enjoyed by our city’s residents.

Given the harsh realities of climate change, we may have to look at planned retreat in some ocean-side areas. As a city we have to fully consider whether we can continue to spend significant funds rebuilding sections of the seawall and other assets, when there is a high probability that they will be damaged again in the next climate change driven storm event.”

Caitlin STOCKWELL – #209Serena Jackson – #213Tiyaltelut Kristen Rivers – #226 (OneCity – Joint Submission): “Yes, absolutely. We believe we need to:

  • Plant 10,000 trees per year starting with the next capital plan through 2040, focusing on neighbourhoods with less canopy and green space to protect these communities from heat waves. Give priority to a wide diversity of drought-tolerant species. (The Park Board is responsible for street trees).
  • Prepare parks and community centres to act as emergency response hubs for all kinds of crises, from earthquakes, deep freezes, heat waves, floods, fires, food shortages and civil unrest.
  • Use parks and green spaces to hold onto water during both droughts and floods, and work to limit water use across the entire parks and recreation system.
  • Redesign the seawall to use more natural, resilient features rather than rebuild every time a storm destroys it.”

Tricia RILEY – #215 – (Green)“I see our parks as the heart of our urban ecosystem that can help us mitigate the effects of climate change in our city. For example, the value of green spaces and tree canopy in mitigating the urban heat island effect is well documented — we need to increase our tree canopy and green spaces across the city to combat the effects of summer heat domes. We should also be looking at opportunities to build climate resilience into our community centres (for example, incorporating the heating and cooling systems to provide shelter from extreme weather) and our recreational infrastructure (for example, shoreline improvements along the seawall and beaches to better prepare for coastal storm events).”


Liam Murphy MENARD – #218 – (Independent): “I believe that Vancouver’s parks and recreation should absolutely play a part in supporting climate resilience and ecosystem restoration by ensuring that all new developments take into consideration both their impact on local biodiversity and their resiliency in the face of a future climate event. Exploring the possibility of projects – such as daylighting streams and supporting native vegetation – that work to restore native ecosystems and increase biodiversity in our city’s parks must be a priority as we seek ways to integrate green spaces into a developing metropolitan city. In turn, our community centres must be adequately funded if they are to serve as our community hubs during times of emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the heatwaves that occurred around the same time, showed us that we are currently ill-prepared to support our most vulnerable during times of crisis. That must change. The Park Board must serve a leading role in developing climate resiliency, as it’s already been shown that its facilities will be leaned upon more than ever in times of crisis.”

Olga ZARUDINA – #220 – (NPA): “Definitely, yes. Each summer in Vancouver demonstrates how climate changes are affecting us now. As mentioned before – creating of more outdoor pools is one of NPA’s items on the to-do list. People need more places to cool off, and besides the pools, maintenance of A/C systems at community centres is important as well. Many people say that we need to grow more trees. Yes, absolutely. But even more importantly, we need to maintain them!”

Kumi KIMURA – #221 – (TEAM): “Yes climate resilience and ecosystems go hand in hand with PB and making sure we are working with the scientist to help where ever we can and take the lead from them, I do not know all the science behind what is needed but will always hear from the expertise and have them direct us.”

Michelle MOLLINEAUX – #223 – (TEAM): “I would also say that we are not doing enough to address climate change in our parks and there are some great solutions we should be looking at. See my blog that has a list of what we should be doing to address climate change in our parks: Take Out Politics: Implement Solutions That Help the Environment.”

James BUCKSHON – #225 – (TEAM): “Parks and recreation facilities could and should play an important part in climate resilience. The mere existence of nature within our city is an important reminder of how beautiful our natural environment is. On a practical note, parks and community centres need to implement recycling. The outdoor parks only provide receptacles for garbage and there are no bins for recycling. We should use less man made materials in our new park designs, which contain large amounts of concrete, steel, plastic and rubber. Astroturf should be discouraged as the fine plastic particulates leach into the ground water. And EV charging stations should be available at all major parks and community centres.”

Tracy D. SMITH – #230 – (Independent): “Absolutely. Decisions that are made about parks directly affect how our city can impact climate change. I look forward to finding innovative solutions that work for this issue while still providing services to the community.”

Craig STEVEN – #231 – (Independent): “If you think we will be underwater by 2030, fine let’s build up the seawall, we’ll make it big and powerful, but provincial and federal governments will have to chip in.”