24 April 2018

Park Board statement on closure of Sunset Beach Park and field

Vancouver Park Board  
Information Bulletin
April 23, 2018
The Park Board will attempt to have Sunset Beach park and field open to the public in six weeks, by early June. This revised estimate of field impacts after the 4/20 marijuana event comes after a full inspection of the field by senior park operations staff this morning.  A forecast of hot and dry weather this week will greatly assist us in preparing the wet field for rehabilitation.
Park operations staff did a preliminary inspection in the immediate aftermath of the event and fenced the field to protect the damaged field from public use over the weekend.  Park Board and City staff worked together all night after 4/20 to clean event debris on the field, but there were still objects such as glass and discarded edibles on the field that posed a danger to the public. The fencing was installed on Saturday morning partially as a protective measure to ensure safety, particularly for children and dogs.
The fencing used to close the field was repurposed by Park Board as it was ordered before 4/20 as protection for new plant beds, young trees and vulnerable species such as eucalyptus and palms. The fencing was removed from these plantings and used to close the field on Saturday morning after the preliminary inspection.
The process to rehabilitate Sunset field involves the following steps:
  • Drying the field – requires a good long stretch of warm weather
  • Cleaning the field – ensuring debris such as cigarette butts, metals and glass are fully removed so machinery can operate
  • Aerating the field – Soils can become compacted through heavy use and thatch (a fibrous layer of dead grass stems, leaves and roots) can develop. Aeration, the process of puncturing the surface of the soil, mitigates this by allowing oxygen into the roots, carbon dioxide to escape and water and nutrients to more easily flow through the soil.  Aeration is necessary for healthy turf grass. 
  • Topdressing the field - This process involves spreading an organic mixture - usually sand, soil, clay or compost or a mixture of these materials - over the field. This helps even out the field, adding an extra element of safety for athletes. Topdressing is like a conditioner for athletic fields, giving turf a fuller feel and extra layer of protection.
  • Seeding and germination – waiting for the grass to grow enough so that public use does not damage the grass. With the right preparation, new turf will have shallow roots in about two weeks. This first stage of root growth is very sensitive and requires us to keep the public off the vulnerable young grass. In fact, all weight should be kept off the grass to allow for healthy, resilient turf with deep roots. This takes between 30-45 days in good conditions.
The Park Board understands that Sunset Beach Park is a much loved community asset, and provides vital recreation space for the dense downtown core.  We regret any closure, but must take steps to ensure the long term viability of this field which also experienced major impacts in 2017 during the same event.  Sunset Park field was closed for 10 weeks last spring after the 4/20 event.
The Park Board will tally all costs associated with the field restoration and other related expenses and will be billing organizers for these costs.  A full accounting of 4/20 costs will be released by the City and Park Board when all associated expenses are in.
Organizers did install about $30,000 worth of plastic turf protection around the main stage at this year’s event, which helped to mitigate the cumulative damage. 
The Park Board will continue to work with partners at the City to encourage organizers to find a more suitable, alternate location for the event in future years. 
Media contact:

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.”


(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:


Truth and Reconciliation with the Park Board’s Colonial Roots

MOVER: Commissioner Mackinnon


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.  
Media contact:

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.”


02 March 2018

Park Board Appeals BC Supreme Court Decision on By-Law Amendment regarding Cetaceans in Parks

Vancouver Park Board
News release
March 2, 2018
The Vancouver Park Board has filed an appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court (BCSC) ruling of February 9, 2018, in which the Court determined that a by-law restricting cetaceans in city parks is inapplicable to the Vancouver Aquarium’s operations in Stanley Park. 
The BCSC ruling by Justice Mayer was in response to the Aquarium’s application for judicial review of amendments to the Parks Control by-law, passed by the Board in May of 2017, restricting the importation and keeping of cetaceans in Vancouver parks. 
The Court held that the contract between the Board and the Aquarium restricted the Board’s authority to pass a by-law that applied to the Aquarium’s operations in Stanley Park. This holding could have far-ranging impacts on the Park Board’s legislative powers, which are granted to it under the Vancouver Charter. 
“We believe that the BC Supreme Court ruling of February 9th poses a real and substantial challenge to the legal power and authority of our elected Board,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “Our Board has decided we must appeal this decision.” 
As outlined in a notice of appeal filed March 2, 2018, the Board will ask the B.C. Court of Appeal to overturn the order of the B.C. Supreme Court and affirm that the by-law restricting cetaceans in Vancouver parks applies to the Aquarium. 
The Park Board continues to support the care of the only cetacean remaining at Vancouver Aquarium, a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen. 
The  Board also continues to support the excellent work by Vancouver Aquarium staff and volunteers in the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre run at a facility outside of Stanley Park. 
The Park Board, along with applicable provincial and federal laws pertaining to cetaceans, permits and regulates Aquarium activities in Stanley Park. The Board has a long-term agreement with the 60-year-old Vancouver Aquarium to operate within Stanley Park. The current licence runs to 2029.
Stanley Park is owned by the Government of Canada and leased to the City as a park. City Council has designated Stanley Park as a permanent public park under the Vancouver Charter.The Park Board has exclusive jurisdiction and control over Stanley Park.
Media contact:
Vancouver Park Board
Twitter: @ParkBoard
Instagram: @VanParkBoard

01 March 2018

Nest big thing: new bird garden unveiled at VanDusen Botanical Garden

Vancouver Park Board
News Release
March 1, 2018
There’s a new destination for birds and birders in Vancouver!
Officially opened today at VanDusen Botanical Garden, the Backyard Bird Garden offers an enhanced habitat for resident and migratory birds.
“The Backyard Bird Garden demonstrates how anyone with a yard or balcony can create habitat for birds with the right selection of plants and shrubs to provide food, shelter and nesting habitat,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.
More than 85 bird species have been recorded at VanDusen Garden.
Sure to bring the birds flocking, colourful nectar-rich perennials such as anise hyssop will be a source of food for hummingbirds, goldfinches, and other small birds native to North America. Deciduous trees such as vine maple grow well in containers, and provide food and open branches for perching. Evergreen shrubs such as salal offer cover and a safe place to nest.
The new garden was a collaborative effort developed and funded in partnership with the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association, a charitable organization which jointly manages VanDusen Botanical Garden and Bloedel Conservatory with the Vancouver Park Board. 
An anonymous gift of $10,000 from a private donor was used towards constructing a child-sized birdhouse in the Backyard Bird Garden.
To celebrate the opening, up to two children get in free with each paid adult, senior or youth between March 1-29 at both VanDusen Botanical Garden and Bloedel Conservatory. 
Family friendly bird walks, talks and activities—free with admission—will be hosted on weekends in March at VanDusen.
At drop in workshops Saturdays from 10 am to 2:30 pm, children can join VBGA Education staff to investigate bird nests and predict which birds built them, explore the functions of feathers, and learn how to preen like a bird.
Any day of the week young birders can enjoy the Junior Birder Challenge while exploring the garden and receive a junior birder button upon completion.
A bird themed spring break camp “Citizen Science: The Birds in your Backyard” takes place Friday, March 23. More information at vandusengarden.org
The Backyard Bird Garden will be a highlight for visitors and their families during the Vancouver International Bird Festival and 27th International Ornithological Congress, both held in Vancouver August 19-26, 2018.
The Backyard Bird Garden supports the VancouverBird Strategy and ParkBoard’s Biodiversity Strategy.
Media contact:
Vancouver Park Board
Twitter: @ParkBoard
Instagram: @VanParkBoard

23 February 2018

Park board approves Vancouver’s World Cup bid

/ Vancouver Courier
February 22, 2018 02:33 PM

The park board is on board with Vancouver’s bid to be a host city if the World Cup comes to North America in 2026.

Commissioners earlier this week unanimously approved a series of staff recommendations needed for Vancouver to be considered as one of the Canadian host cities if the united North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup is successful.

“This is kind of a big deal,” said Michelle Collens, the city’s manager of sport hosting, who outlined the process for commissioners.

Vancouver city council last week voted in favour of proceeding with the bid.
Last April, Canada, the United States and Mexico joined their respective soccer associations together to create the United Bid Committee in a push to host the World Cup in 2026. Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal were selected as potential host cities in Canada and another 25 cities in the U.S. and three in Mexico area also in the running to become host cities.

If the bid is successful, and Vancouver is chosen as a host city, soccer fans could expect three to five games to be played at B.C. Place Stadium, depending on how many host cities are in Canada. If two cities are chosen, then each would host five games. A total of 80 matches are played during the tournament — Canada and Mexico would host 10 each with the United States hosting the remaining 60 games. All the semi-final and final games would be played in U.S. cities.

If Vancouver is chosen as a host city, the park board would be responsible for providing training venues. For the purpose of the bid, the city must propose four options with the assumption that two would be chosen. Collens said that any costs associated with provided the training sites during the tournament would be recovered as part of the rental fee paid by FIFA.

Staff identified four potential sites — Memorial South, Trillium Fields, Empire Fields and Jericho Field. Collen said the training sites have to fulfill specific requirements including not being visible from any public or private buildings, available for exclusive use for 14 days before the tournament starts until the final game is played and the venues must be within a 20-minute drive of team accommodations.

“This is an incredibly exciting prospect,” board chair Green commissioner Stuart Mackinnon said ahead of the unanimous vote. “In 1986 we invited the world to come and look at Vancouver, in 2010 we showed the world just what Vancouver was and that we were a truly modern 21st-century city. In 2026 we’ll not only show the world how beautiful Vancouver is but that we can host a truly world-wide event.”

“It’s an exciting sport and I know the kids in the community are also really excited to see this kind of program or this kind of event in the city, and it’s just wonderful to offer them that opportunity to see such an amazing world event,” said NPA commissioner Casey Crawford.

The bid deadline is March 26. On June 13 FIFA will announce the winning bid however the official host cities won’t be announced until June 2020.

Morocco is the only competing bid.


22 February 2018

Meters Fees & Charges: Nobody likes them!

Last November, in the 2018 Park Board budget deliberations, seasonal parking fees were introduced at Spanish Banks beach. This is the last beach in Vancouver to have parking fees, and the community, not unexpectedly, reacted negatively. No one likes to pay for parking. Nobody likes additional charges. 

I get it. I dont like to pay either. But that fact is beaches, parks, and recreation cost money. According to a CUPE report from 2017, while 60% of infrastructure in Canada is in urban areas, only 12 cents of every dollar paid in taxes in Canada goes to municipal governments. Municipal governments build, maintain, and replace this infrastructure and yet dont have the ability to collect income related taxeswhich is why we pay property taxes. 

Unfortunately, for the Park Board, only 51% of the annual operating budget comes from municipal taxes; the remaining 49% comes from fees & charges (about 41%) and other revenue sources. So the Park Board must find sources for this gap. Year after year, ratepayers in Vancouver have said they would rather have increased user fees than increased property taxes.

Beautiful beaches, nice parks, and active recreational programs dont come for free. The 2018 Park Board Operating Budget consists of $122,805,851 in expenditures and transfers, which is funded by $63,256,313 of tax-based operating funds and $59,549,538 in revenues. The choice for Commissioners each year is do we ask City Council to raise taxes (which they may or may not do) to fund increased cost, or do we find new sources of revenue or increase the current ones.

This year staff recommended, and Commissioners voted, to increase fees in some locations and add an additional parking charge at Spanish Banks. 

Spanish Banks beach is a unique place and public transportation is limited. These beaches are popular partly because parking has been free until now. But has it really been free? Someone pays. Just as someone pays for lifeguards, the change-rooms, and beach maintenance. Nothing is really free.

After hearing from the public the Park Board made some changes to the program this week. Rather than the usual April 1st through September 30th period at most seasonal pay lots, Spanish Banks will see metered parking only between the May long weekend and the Labour Day long weekend. Charges will only come into effect at 9 am (rather than the usual 6 am) so that early morning walkers and dog runners will be able to park without charge. And a $87 seasonal parking pass (working out to about 80 cents/day) will be promoted.

No one runs for office on a platform of increased fees or taxes. No elected official likes to increase costs for constituents. But the fact remains: costs increase year over year. Park Board has no control over taxation and so it can either propose to cut services or increase fees. This year the Commissioners chose to increase fees. Next year we may have to choose to cut services, and I can guarantee, the outcry will be similar.