19 April 2018

Park board takes next step in reconciliation

Commissioners take on mission to ‘decolonize the Vancouver Park Board’


In January 2016, the park board adopted 11 strategies in response to the 94 calls to action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The strategies encompass a range of goals, including adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, staff training on Indigenous issues and reconciliation, and ensuring the integration of Aboriginal history, heritage values and memory practices in policies around monuments, memorial and public art.

This week, commissioners took things a step further and adopted a reconciliation mission, vision and values.

“We’re at a critical juncture for the future of reconciliation,” Rena Soutar, the board’s reconciliation planner, told commissioners. “The park board and institutions at all levels have done important work in recognizing the unique issues inherent in reconciling our relationship with the Aboriginal peoples of this land, but this work is only phase one.”

Soutar presented the mission, vision and values statement, saying that a “good compass” is needed to guide the work of reconciliation.

“We believe this journey will enrich us all and that articulating an inspirational vision with core values to support it helps us all paddle in the same direction.

She said the 11 strategies address a specific set of issues and provide tactics to implement in park board processes and projects, work that has already started and will continue, while adopting the mission, vision and values statement embeds the reconciliation principles.

The mission is to decolonize the Vancouver Park Board by recognizing “the institution’s colonial history” and upholding its commitment to the 11 reconciliation strategies.

“In my mind this does mark quite a significant shift in paradigm and attitude to reconciliation,” Soutar told the Courier, adding that it shifts the focus from improving relations with First Nations people to examining what made the relations problematic in the first place and figuring out how to fix those problems.

“I’m just really pleased with how well it was received,” she said of the statement, which was adopted unanimously. “I’m looking forward to this next piece of deciding with my colleagues and whoever else is buying into this mission, vision and values on what that means for us.”

The vision is for the park board to be “an evolvable organization in which every employee and commissioner recognizes the humanity in themselves by recognizing and respecting the humanity of First Peoples” and one that sets an example in treating reconciliation as a process of decolonization.
And the values include clarity, pragmatism, leadership, learning and patience.

“We’ve heard something from our staff partners at Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations, and that’s that important things take time,” Soutar said. “And it’s not just that we need to be patient because important things take time, it’s that they actually need that time to take root.”

Board chair and Green Party commissioner, Stuart Mackinnon said that reconciliation isn’t just up to a few individuals.

“It doesn’t fall on two or three employees, it falls on all of the staff, all of the commissioners and in fact all of the residents of our city to move forward with this.”

Fellow Green commissioner Michael Wiebe echoed his sentiments and praised staff for a making a strong statement in the mission to decolonize the park board.

“I think sometimes we tip toe around a subject that we’re all involved in and I think they’ve done a great job here of not doing that and making sure that we’re pushing the boundaries.”

Mackinnon also introduced a reconciliation motion of his own, which was carried unanimously, directing staff to analyze the park board’s colonial roots and current practices, asking for a report back that includes “recommendations to acknowledge any and all injustices uncovered as part of the ‘truth-telling’ phase.”

“It’s time that the park board told those truths,” Mackinnon said. “It’s from those truths that healing can begin.”

@JessicaEKerr
jkerr@vancourier.com

(c) 2018 Courier.com

17 April 2018

Reconciliation and truth-telling—acknowledging our colonial past

14 April 2018

Vancouver Park Board announces major Seawall upgrades

Areas affected include near English Bay, Sunset and Second beaches, Brockton Point

/ Vancouver Courier
April 12, 2018 


One of Vancouver’s crown jewels is getting some love.

The Stanley Park seawall is in the midst of the largest restoration effort in its 101-year history and crews have already begun work near English Bay.

The $4.5 million upgrade is being done in two phases. The work includes filling holes, stone replacement, stabilizing of foundations and installation of rocks to protect against water erosion at priority locations between Brockton Point and Sunset Beach Park, just outside of Stanley Park.

 “The seawall is subject to seasonal battering, as well as large storms, which damage the structure and necessitated the restoration work,” park board chair Stuart Mackinnon said in a news release. “The restoration will allow local residents and visitors to continue to enjoy recreational activities for many more years on the seawall.”

The first set of upgrades are slated for completion in August, and a 100-metre section of the seawall will be temporarily merged, requiring cyclists to dismount.

The second phase needs park board approval first and is expected to begin shortly after the initial work is completed, according to the news release.

A pair of vulnerable portions of the seawall — at Sunset Beach between Inukshuk and Broughton Street and English Bay between Park Lane and Second Beach — were replaced with reinforced concrete retaining walls in 2010 and 2011.

Independent assessments of the seawall in 2013 and 2016 identified the location, type and degree of damage along the seawall, and provided recommendations on high priority areas for repairs.

“The repairs will increase the resiliency of the seawall against more aggressive storms brought on by climate change,” the news release states.

(c) 2018 Vancouver Courier

12 April 2018

Truth and Reconciliation with the Park Board’s Colonial Roots

I will be presenting the following motion at Monday's meeting of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation:

MOTION ON NOTICE

Truth and Reconciliation with the Park Board’s Colonial Roots

MOVER: Commissioner Mackinnon

WHEREAS:

1. The City of Vancouver is designated a City of Reconciliation;

2. In January 2016, the Vancouver Park Board approved eleven (11) strategies in response to the TRC’s Calls to Action, including the recommendation to adopt the “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” as a framework for Park Board’s Reconciliation initiatives;
3. One of the concerns identified in the UN’s Declaration is:

… that indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests;

4. From June through November of 2016, Park Board staff conducted a series of consultations with Indigenous cultural leaders, artists, and Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation members; input received in those sessions indicated that we are at the “truth-telling” phase of Truth and Reconciliation, and that true Reconciliation can only follow a truth-telling phase;

5. The Park Board’s own history is part of the truth of the devastating colonial impact on local First Nations.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT in support of the Vancouver Park Board’s Truth and Reconciliation initiatives, staff undertake an analysis of the Park Board’s colonial roots, as well as current practices, and report back with their findings and recommendations to acknowledge any and all injustices uncovered as part of the “truth-telling” phase.

05 April 2018

Park Board will create city-wide advisory committee to revisit VanSplash Aquatics Strategy


Vancouver Park Board  
News Release
April 5, 2018
 
 
The Park Board will invite an external advisory committee to assist in developing a revised version of VanSplash, the Board’s long-term aquatics strategy for Vancouver. This decision follows an 18 month city-wide consultation which surfaced a wide variety of viewpoints on the future of our pools and beaches.
 
The advisory committee will represent residents from across the city and include stakeholders from key aquatic areas including recreation, skill development, fitness, sport and therapy. An external facilitator, who has not thus far been involved in the project, will assist the Park Board in identifying priorities and refining the VanSplash Strategy.
 
“Swimming is our most popular recreational activity and we’ve heard a lot of different opinions on future directions for our aquatics system,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “A re-set with an external advisory committee representing a range of users and perspectives is the best path to a long-term plan.”
 
There will be an open call for swimmers and stakeholders to apply to join the advisory committee in the coming months. Staff will bring a report on the revised strategy to the Board in 2019.  
 
 
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Media contact:
604-257-8438

28 March 2018

Park Board will not implement seasonal pay parking at Spanish Banks beaches in 2018

After a thorough staff review the Park Board has decided it will not introduce seasonal pay parking at Spanish Banks this summer.

Staff have advised that for this year, the revenue from Spanish Banks parking is not required to balance the budget, so plans for the introduction of pay parking in four Spanish Banks lots are currently on hold.

In addition, Park Board Commissioners raised concerns at the time of approval about the lack of transit alternatives to this more remote beach location. Additional work is required with our transportation partners to find suitable options.

Access is a key priority

The Park Board will review operational and financial considerations next year and will carefully consider submissions from residents concerned about access and affordability to beaches with limited transit options for families and persons with low incomes.
 
While parking revenues help to reduce taxation revenue required by Park Board, access for all residents and visitors is also a key priority.

The plans - approved during the budgeting process last fall -  were to implement peak season pay parking at Spanish Banks this spring in order to align with all other destination parks and beaches in Vancouver.

Funding for parks and facilities 

More than 40% of the Park Board’s operating budget is funded by fees and charges. Pay parking at destination parks and beaches remains a critical source of Park Board revenue, providing funding for the maintenance, security, and cleanliness of all of our parks and facilities.

via: City of Vancouver website

26 March 2018

New Campaign Website

If you are interested in getting involved in my campaign for re-election to the Park Board, please visit the stuart4parks website. The first step is securing an endorsement from the Green Party of Vancouver. You can join the party which will enable you to vote at the nomination meeting in May, as well as sign my nomination papers, if you sign up before 13 April. If you want to help make better parks for Vancouver, please get in touch.

21 March 2018

99 reasons why balloons suck

Last fall when I introduced my motion to ban balloons from public parks, some people thought I was full of hot air. Well, here are 99 reasons why balloons are a danger to the planet.


A fisher scooping up downed balloons in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. (Thanks to Anthony Beale for the photo share).

16 March 2018

Another run for Park Board



At the Green Party of Vancouver AGM on Sunday 11 March 2018 I stated my intention to seek another endorsement for Park Board Commissioner from the party. It has been a honour and a privilege to be an elected Green  representative on the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation twice: 2008-11 and 2014-18. I hope to receive the endorsement of the Green Party and to continue to serve my community as Park Commissioner for another term.

14 March 2018

Proposed Ray-Cam community centre renewal gets council approval

  / Vancouver Courier
March 14, 2018 11:34 AM

They were celebrating at Ray-Cam Co-operative Community Centre Wednesday morning as the push to upgrade the centre got a boost from city council, but now the real work begins.

Council adopted Green Coun. Adriane Carr’s motion to have staff review the proposed renewal so that it can be considered as part of the city’s 2019-2022 capital plan. That approval means the project will be included on the ballot this October.
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“There was a very big cheer in the lobby,” said coordinator Kate Hodgson. “That’s very exciting.”

"Today's resolution signals that the city is serious about this project — it's a real opportunity to meet some urgent housing objectives and invest in our community," said Strathcona resident and Ray-Cam board member Guy Wakeman. "We're very excited to move this forward and hipefully take advantage of some of the provincial funding opportunities we know are coming down the pipe."

Ray-Cam has been serving Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood for more than 40 years. Originally constructed in 1976, the community centre on the eastern edge of the Downtown Eastside has expanded over the years but it’s now bursting at the seams and starting to show its age.

Ray-Cam currently provides much-needed services for more than 6,000 members. Diapers, snacks and supplies are stacked against the walls in meeting rooms. The gym and weight-rooms leak, and an inadequate, and chronically broken furnace, means parts of the centre are freezing in the winter. There are only two public washrooms.
The centre exists under a unique partnership — the land is owned by the province and has been granted in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of local residents. The centre is jointly operated by the Ray-Cam cooperative, the city and the park board.

"Ray-Cam is a caring and safe place that welcomes everyone," said park board chair Stuart Mackinnon, who is the centre's official commissioner liaision. "It is the community's rec room. I am very happy that city council feels that it is time for a renewal."

The movement to see a renewed Ray-Cam started in earnest in 2016. Hodgson said the vision includes a new community centre with more childcare spaces and more room for the increasing number of programs offered at the centre. Also at the top of the list is a residential component.

Residents involved in the community-visioned redevelopment have already secured in-principle support from B.C. Housing for the construction and financing of a residential component, pending a commitment of municipal funding for a new community centre.

Hodgson said a steering committee, which includes representatives from Ray-Cam, BC Housing, the city and the park board, will meet first thing Monday morning to get to work to make sure the proposal is ready for inclusion on the ballot.

“It’s really exciting and really needed,” she said. “We’re so ready for it.”

@JessicaEKerr
jkerr@vancourier.com