29 March 2017

Vancouver's poorest community centres will get unique deal

Park board backs Strathcona Community Centre demands for secure funding
Megan Stewart / Vancouver Courier   March 28, 2017 12:19 PM
The community centre in Strathcona is saddled with unique, complex demands that set it apart from most others in the city and should have a distinct contract and secure funding.
This was the unanimous decision taken Monday night by the park board, now wrapping up a year-long effort to sign the city’s 21 community centre associations to a joint operating agreement. Proposing a different deal marks a new direction for Strathcona and potentially other community centres that struggle financially.
The park board is also prepared to put its hand out. It will consider “potential funding partners” that can “develop an interim as well as a long-term strategy for a sustainable funding model.”
The new direction was supported by the community centre association president.
“Over the last several months, it became clear that we couldn’t be supported in very significantly through the JOA,” said Shannon Williams about the joint operating agreement between centres and the park board that could still include an “investment fund” to a small amount of revenue from more to less profitable centres.
“They have really taken the step. It is a significant shift that the park board is saying they need to support community centres such as ours, so we are really heartened by that,” she said. “The board has heard us and understands and appreciates our concerns and those of other centers in similar situations.”
The decisions has two phases and will begin with recommendations specific to Strathcona on a short-term basis before long-term options are considered for it and any other community centre with similar financial limits and burdens.
“Something needed to be done differently,” said Vision commissioner Catherine Evans.
The Strathcona community centre association fundraises $1 million of its annual $1.7 million operating budget each year. Park board staff is tasked with researching models to follow or innovations to dream up and will present interim, short-term suggestions to the board by June 30. Long-term models will be presented by Nov. 30.
 “I would suggest staff was already working toward a solution with Strathcona, but I think it’s important we separate the process and formalize this so the commissioners and staff all recognize and that we are ready to address this,” said NPA commissioner Casey Crawford, who is the park board liaison to the Strathcona Community Centre and proposed an initial motion that he later revised alongside Evans because she had proposed a similar but separate motion of her own.
“Poverty isn’t restricted to one neighbourhood or two or three, it is throughout our city,” said Evans, who did not want the community centre in Strathcona to be mistaken as anything else. “It’s very important it be a community centre in the same way every other centre plays a central role in its community. The fact if faces funding challenges doesn’t change its role. It is just a difference of resources available to it through program fees.”
The Strathcona community centre association had asked the park board for guaranteed funding of $200,000 going forward. Depending on the operational model that is suggested and approved, they could get more, or less, from the park board or could be funded through numerous other government partners and a distinct model. For example, the Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre located a few blocks from Strathcona is not strictly a community centre, but provides many similar services and is operated through agreements with their a board of directors along with the city and BC Housing.
“I think most community centres say they would face funding challenges,” said Stuart Mackinnon, with the Green Party, who later commended the work of Strathcona representatives, staff and patrons for opening up about their struggles, both financial and human.
After the vote, a small group of spectators broke into applause. Many of them, including Williams, Ron Suzuki and Veronica Light, had attended every special public meeting held by the park board as the joint operating agreement is ironed out.
“We are really happy the board has heard us,” said Williams.

27 March 2017

Vancouver Park Board launches map showing best places to find flowering cherry blossom trees in city

23 March 2017 The Straight.com

Cherry trees will soon be in bloom around Vancouver, offering residents the chance to capture the city during one of the most beautiful times of the year. Photo by Cynthia Wong

Vancouver’s cherry blossom season is imminent and with it comes an opportunity to capture some seriously gorgeous shots of our city in full bloom.

To help residents make the most of the occasion, which will kick off alongside the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival on March 30, the Vancouver Park Board has put together a handy map presenting the best spots in the city to find the pretty, pink-and-white petals.

The map includes the addresses of over 2,100 cherry trees in Metro Vancouver as well as in municipalities such as Agassiz and Chilliwack. “Festival favourite” locations (aka the most photogenic sites) are marked by red pins, while others are marked by blue ones.

Users may search cherry tree scenes by their preferred neighbourhood, cultivar, or a combination of both.

Each spot is accompanied by a timeframe in which the trees there are expected to flower, though these dates were drawn from the 2016 season. Given Vancouver’s unusually long winter, this year’s cherry blossoms may begin flowering at later dates.

The full map may be viewed at maps.vcbf.ca/map/. “Cherry scouts” will also be updating the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s Blooming Now page with images of budding sites.

Taking place from March 30 to April 23, this year’s Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival features a number of concerts, workshops, and art exhibitions happening around town. For more information about the month-long event, click here.

The Georgia Straight is a sponsor of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. 

15 March 2017

BC SPCA supports Park Board decision to prohibit ‘importation and display’ of live cetaceans

 March 10, 2017
The BC SPCA applauds the Vancouver Park Board Commission, whose commissioners voted unanimously in favour of a motion to amend bylaws "to prohibit the importation and display" of live cetaceans — porpoises, whales or dolphins — at the Vancouver Aquarium.

“We are thrilled with this unanimous vote,” says BC SPCA chief scientific officer Dr. Sara Dubois, noting the BC SPCA made bylaw recommendations in April of 2014 to take steps toward the phasing out of cetacean programs at the Vancouver Aquarium.

“The BC SPCA is opposed to the capture, confinement and breeding of marine mammals for entertainment or educational display and this vote is very encouraging.” The BC SPCA sent a letter  (PDF)to the Park Board today thanking them for their brave and compassionate votes that will advance both science and ethical conversations on the issue.

The amendments could be enacted as soon as May 15, once Park Board staff report back.

Read the BC SPCA's position on zoos and aquariums.

The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

(c) 2017 BC SPCA

10 March 2017

Unanimous Support for Green Commissioner Mackinnon's Motion on Cetacean Bylaw

For Immediate Release - Friday, March 10, 2017

Unanimous Support for Green Commissioner
Mackinnon's Motion on Cetacean Bylaw

Vancouver, BC - Last night, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation unanimously voted to amend the Parks Control By-law to prohibit cetacean captivity in Vancouver Parks.

The Park Board considered four options and heard from speakers over the course of two consecutive evenings. The options included:
  1. Call on City Council to include an assent question (plebiscite) in the 2018 municipal election.
  2. Accept the Aquarium's February 20th announced plans (bring back belugas from other institutions to the Vancouver Aquarium but discontinue display of belugas by 2029).
  3. Amend the Parks Control By-laws (including a ban).
  4. Maintain the status quo.

After hearing from speakers, Green Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon moved and NPA Commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung seconded the following motion:

"THAT the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation directs staff to bring forward for enactment by the Board an amendment to the Parks Control By-law to prohibit the importation and display of live cetaceans in Vancouver parks and report back not later than May 15, 2017."

In 2010, Commissioner Mackinnon moved a motion calling for a plebiscite on the future of cetaceans in captivity in Vancouver Parks in the 2011 Vancouver municipal election. While that motion did not succeed, his latest motion calling for a ban was supported unanimously.  After hearing from speakers, one by one, each of the seven commissioners voted in support of the motion.

"Tonight is the culmination of thousands of caring people's work. I stand shoulder to shoulder in pride with them. It was a very good night," said Mackinnon of the outcome of the vote.


For more information, contact:
Stuart Mackinnon: 778-389-1956

 Green Party of Vancouver