Vancouver Votes: Park Board Politics
November 14, 2014
Tomorrow, polls open for Vancouver residents to cast their vote for the municipal elections. Recent headlines involving the city, green space, whales, and more green space have caused confusion over what it is the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation actually does.
Despite critics' suggestions that most of the parks board's power has been moved into the office of City Manager Penny Ballem, here are three issues surrounding tomorrow's parks board elections (remember, ours is the only such body elected in Canada) that you should look into before V-Day.
Negotiations over plans to merge programming and funding allocations for community associations across Metro Vancouver have been under debate for the past 21 months, with lack of progress resulting in the arrival of big player Vince Ready (credits include chief of mitigation in the teachers' strike and Richmond Ikea-gate).
Opponents of the motion say each community centre has different requirements; with associations like Hastings declaring programs such as child care and Cooking 101 more in demand than Kitsilano's popular yoga programs. City proposals for the introduction of OneCard, an access pass that would make the need for individual centre memberships redundant, have resulted in court action between six community associations and the city, a legal process that has been suspended until after the elections.
This week, the Renfrew CCA—one of the 12 community associations involved in the dispute—walked away from the negotiating table. Renfrew Park president Hazel Hollingdale says they have "lost faith" in a parks board they initially thought was fully engaged.
Hollingdale encourages voters to look long and hard at parks board incumbents, and to be wary of buzzwords including 'community engagement' and 'task force', explaining: "These words make it seem that those things are going to enhance a community model. We need to look beyond that, at actual plans that parties have committed to in order to return community voices back to the community".