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

Question 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?

Gwen GIESBRECHT – #201 – (COPE): “Yes. Having a team of well informed and forward thinking managers, planners and designers whose task it is to maintain, renew and expand the city’s parks, recreational and community centre system would not be well replicated without the current degree of autonomy. City Councils come and go with varying degrees of support for the work in Vancouver that falls under the jurisdiction of the Park Board. An elected board is made up of officials with a dedicated mandate to ensure that there is a focus on the work done within the jurisdictions of the Park Board.”

Tom DIGBY – #203 – (Green): “Historically, the PB was established in 1887 to protect Stanley Park from being sold for urban development by unscrupulous city councillors. While this risk is largely eliminated, the elected PB still provides a valuable democratic opportunity for citizens to engage on issues closest to their personal needs and experiences – parks and recreation. This is valuable for democracy. And a real asset. Some say PB should be abolished. I tell them that there are much greater governance issues in our region (e.g. regional amalgamation). If we want to talk about governance, let’s focus on these broader regional issues.”

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

Andrea PINOCHET-ESCUDERO – #206 – (Vote Socialist)“I believe in participatory democracy, so I think we should always be looking to add democratic oversight in more areas of society. An elected Park Board is worth having, but it has to be taken care of and it has to be in touch with all communities. In Vancouver, on Indigenous territory, we have a responsibility to expand co-management of our Parks systems with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh.”

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

John IRWIN – #212 – (Vision Vancouver): “At around 270 parks, starting from Stanley Park, I would assert that a separate Park Board with its own jurisdictional powers has been much more effective than a City department would be. Few residents know the long history of park acquisition and recreation provision in our city. Our staff works diligently with other levels of government to provide park board services and facilities. Significant attention needs to be paid to co-management (see below) and other democratic improvements (improvements to public engagement).”

Tricia RILEY – #215 – (Green)“The Parks Board in Vancouver is unique, and so too are the iconic parks it was established to protect. At a time when land values are skyrocketing, along with the influence of developers, we need to protect our park lands and expand them. Having an elected board focused on the protection and stewardship of our parks is an asset from my perspective, and provides an opportunity for greater democratic input in the future management of our lands.”


Liam Murphy MENARD – #218 – (Independent): “I believe that having a Board of Parks and Recreation is absolutely the best way to govern and manage Vancouver’s park system. While I agree that the issues the Park Board is being asked to address have become far more complex than ever before – moving away from just managing grass fields and swimming pools and now being asked to deconstruct homeless encampments, rebuild a network of community centres, and oversee the purchase and development of pocket parks – I believe the solution is to elect individuals with the experience and knowledge needed to properly address these modern problems in a pragmatic and sustainable way. City council meetings in this city have already built a negative rapport province-wide for being too long, too polarizing, and having too much focus on saying things and not enough focus on generating results. I cannot imagine that dissolving the Park Board and absorbing those duties into the responsibilities of the city councillors – as some residents are asking for – would lead to any positive change in the quality of work that is being done.”

Olga ZARUDINA – #220 – (NPA): “I believe that the best way to govern and manage Vancouver’s park system is ongoing consultations with professionals and experts in biology, civil engineering, ecology, and other related fields.”

Kumi KIMURA – #221 – (TEAM): “Yes we are still very unique in having a PB, this is very much needed so it is not influenced by other political issues that can tie up the Mayor and Councillors and the commissioners should come from a what is best for the community in regards to the parks…”

Michelle MOLLINEAUX – #223 – (TEAM): “The Park Board serves the important function of protecting and expanding Vancouver’s outstanding parks, recreation and community centre system. This unique and important administrative structure was established early in Vancouver’s history because of Stanley Park. It was recognized that the park needed an independent Park Board and administration with the mandate to protect and maintain the park distinct from the City’s mandate to develop the city lands. As more parks were established, these were also added to the Park Board lands. This distinction is as valid today as it was in the past. Some civic parties have suggested that the Park Board be disbanded, but TEAM sees that as a lack of understanding of the important role that the Park Board plays.

Over the past decade, under the influence of City Council, staff and special interests, the Park Board has made a series of irresponsible decisions that have adversely affected the health and useability of our internationally known parks and recreation system. Some of these actions have contributed to weakening of the Park Board’s ability to carry out their mandate and prohibited the public’s access to the parks and recreation system and the potential threat of losing parks and golf courses to developers.”

James BUCKSHON – #225 – (TEAM): “The current governance by a separate Park Board should be preserved. The city has far too many pressing concerns to add 250 parks to their list. Further, there are development pressures at the city hall level that could possibly encroach on parks if we are not careful.”

Caitlin STOCKWELL – #209Serena Jackson – #213Tiyaltelut Kristen Rivers – #226 (OneCity – Joint Submission): “Having an elected body with a mandate specifically focusing on protecting and acquiring public park space, and recreation amenities, is one of the reasons that Vancouver has the parks system it has today. The Park Board has been a strong voice in ensuring developers provide community amenity contributions that cover recreation and green space needs for growing communities – this is something that could be lost in the variety of different amenities developers can provide without advocacy from the Park Board. All this to say, OneCity is strongly in favour of co-management with Host Nations and we recognize that governance and management of the Park Board will evolve.”

Tracy D. SMITH – #230 – (Independent): “I believe the Parks Board has a vital role to play in the governing of the city and its resources.”

Craig STEVEN – #231 – (Independent): “Parks board is useful as long they don’t push their own, social, environmental, and judicial agendas.”