30 September 2011

Parks and recreation must be open to all in Vancouver

Vancouver’s natural beauty is worth protecting. Our children not only need places to play, but also places to enjoy and explore nature. We all need places of tranquil refuge from our busy lives. People and nature in balance is my vision for Vancouver’s parks.

Parks should be available for all to enjoy and should not be exclusive to any one group. Parks and community centres are the life-blood of any city. They are where we meet to play, to learn, and to socialize. We must continually re-examine recreation policies to ensure fairness and equal access. We must ensure facilities are available in every neighbourhood.

We are so blessed to live in the natural splendour of Vancouver. However, with recent budgetary constraints our parks have been under threat from neglect due to the lack of proper funding. In 2008 I was honoured to be elected as a park board commissioner and since then have worked to be your voice for parks and recreation in Vancouver. During my term, I have advocated for a management plan for Stanley Park and the return of Hastings Park to the community. I have worked to keep neighbourhood services open, to save the Bloedel Conservatory, and to keep recreational fees reasonable and fair.

I would like the opportunity to continue advocating for parks and services that are important to you and your family. If re-elected, I intend to continuing working towards:

Improving parks and recreation accessibility

Recreational facilities must be open to all. We must re-examine the recreational fees charged to ensure fairness and equal access. Our parks are the refuges of the city for people and wildlife. Our parks are not only places of recreation but also of meditation, and where children can learn about their natural environment. We must preserve and promote them as green spaces.

Ensuring maintenance and safety of our facilities

Our aging infrastructure is quickly deteriorating. Community centre renewal for the Hastings, West Point Grey, and Kerrisdale neighbourhoods is long overdue, yet there is no money in the capital plan to address these needs. Kerrisdale pool and arena are near breaking point and must be either replaced or closed soon. Marpole, which is on the capital plan, has only half the funding necessary, meaning that it will not be replaced during the next term.

Strengthening communication and relationship between park board and unionized staff

Our unionized workers in the parks system have a vested interest in promoting and preserving the parks of our city and should play an active role in their management. This next term will see the renegotiation of a collective agreement, which must be done in a fair and respectful manner.

On November 19, I hope you will vote for natural spaces, renewed facilities, and a parks and recreation system for everyone. People and nature in balance is the Green Party of Vancouver’s vision for our parks and recreation system. I hope it is yours as well. On November 19 please vote to re-elect Stuart Mackinnon.

Stuart Mackinnon is seeking re-election as a Green commissioner on the Vancouver park board.

24 September 2011

Capital Plan passes - No pool for Mount Pleasant

The Park Board passed the Capital Plan last Monday with one amendment regarding tennis courts at Kits Beach. The plan includes a new annex for Kensington CC and the chance of a new community centre for Marpole, though only half the financing was approved and it is contingent on finding new land to build it, along with a new library, within the central business area of the neighbourhood. An amendment by Commissioner Ian Robertson saw some money moved from new street trees to rebuild the tennis courts at Kits beach--something that was included in the last capital Plan but got taken away as other priorities superseded it. I attempted to make another amendment, to add $1 million dollars to start the process of re-building an outdoor pool in Mt. Pleasant, but it died when there was no seconder for the motion. The Capital Plan then went to City Council where it was passed and now will be presented on the November 19th civic ballot.

I'm not happy with this plan. I don't think the public process was transparent nor fair, and the input of the elected commissioners was limited at best. Kerrisdale, Hastings and West Point Grey are in dire need of new community centres. The Kerrisdale pool and arena are both well past their best before date and should be replaced soon. A lot of new street trees will be added to Vancouver, which is a good thing, but no new money for their maintenance was included (maintenance is operational rather capital expenditure, but we shouldn't be adding to the infrastructure of the city without the assurance of money to maintain it). However, I will support this plan throughout the election period and hope you vote yes, as something is better than nothing. But please tell your candidates that they must do much better in consulting the public. It is after all your money, your city and your future.

Also on Monday the plan to sell alcohol on the greens and fairways of Vancouver's public golf courses passed by a 5-1 vote, with one commissioner absent for the vote and mine the vote against. I believe this is a short-sighted opportunistic move driven by the desire for profit at the expense of public space.

20 September 2011

Noise and Nonsense: Setting the record straight

There has been a lot of silliness in the media recently about the Green Party of Vancouver - and myself in particular - in an alliance with other civic parties. This is nothing more than noise and nonsense. The Green Party of Vancouver (GPv) is not in an electoral accommodation of any sort with any other civic political party. At the spring Special General Meeting the GPv membership voted to work with COPE if that party turned down a deal with Vision Vancouver. They did not and so the GPv is running as an independent group. We are not formally or informally aligned with COPE, Vision, or the NPA.

During this term I have worked with Vision, COPE and the NPA on motions I felt were in the public good. As I wrote in an earlier blog, I will continue to work with any other individual or group who shares my values and the Green perspective on individual initiatives. To rule out cooperation because of differences in other areas would be petty and foolish and would be against the public good.

09 September 2011

Summer fun continues till September 18 at Kits Pool!

Kitsilano Pool will remain open an extra week to take advantage of the warm summer weather, which is forecast to continue past mid-month.
The outdoor seaside pool located on Cornwall Avenue will now close September 18. The Vancouver Park Board had originally scheduled it to close on September 11.

The extended hours of service are:
Monday, September 12 to Friday, September 16: 3 pm – 7 pm
Saturday, September 17 to Sunday, September 18: 9 am – 7 pm

Kitsilano Pool, which is one of four large outdoor pools in Vancouver, is heated and is accessible to persons with disabilities. It is the only salt water pool in Vancouver and one of the largest in the world. A smaller outdoor pool at Hillcrest Centre near Queen Elizabeth Park will remain open until further notice.
For more information contact Daria Wojnarski Communications Coordinator, at (t) 604-257-8440 or (c) 604-561-6925.

04 September 2011

Special visit for Coquitlam seniors

Coquitlam NOW September 2, 2011
As part of the Gentle Giant Visit program, Gerry O’Neill brought his horse Pepper to visit residents at Belvedere Care Centre in Coquitlam. The program is designed so retirement homes and other extended care facilities may invite draft horses to visit with residents, who might not otherwise have a chance to see these animals face to face.

Pepper is one of the star dapple grey Pecherons that pulls a carriage in Stanley Park. The breed originated in Perche, France. These large, strong horses were created for agricultural work and to carry knights into battle.

Pepper stands 18.3 hands tall (six feet three inches) at the shoulder and weighs more than 2,200 pounds.

03 September 2011

Stanley Park cycling plan open house

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is embarking on a process to evaluate and resolve issues with cycling in Stanley Park to enhance the park experience for all users.

Everyone is invited to drop by a public open house to provide their comments which will be used to develop options to improve cycling in the park. The public will be invited to discuss and comment on these options through a public consultation later in the fall.

Open House

Saturday, September 10, 2011
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Location: There will be two open house locations in the park—one on the plaza on the north side of Georgia Street near the underpass at Chilco Street, and the other at the Ceperley Field playground near the Second Beach Pool concession. Look for the tent and Park Board signage.

For more information on this project please visit:

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