18 August 2016

#StopKinderMorgan: My presentation to the to the KM Panel

Yesterday I sat for 7 hours listening to impassioned, articulate, and knowledgeable citizens speak to the Kinder Morgan expansion hearings. Every single speaker asked the panelists to not recommend the twinning of the TransMountain oil pipeline. After 6 hours I was given the opportunity to make my statement. Below is a transcript of my remarks:

Good evening, my name is Stuart Mackinnon, and I am an elected Commissioner of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.
The Vancouver Park Board is the only elected body of its kind in Canada. Formed in 1888 as a committee to manage the new Stanley Park, its history is as old as the city itself.

 It has exclusive possession, jurisdiction, and control over more than 230 public parks in Vancouver and a large public recreation system of community centres, pools, rinks, fitness centres, golf courses, street trees, marinas, playing fields, and more.
The elected nature of the Park Board and the strength and focus of its mandate have resulted in urban parks and recreation that today give Vancouver an enviable and esteemed position world-wide.
Our mission as a Board is to provide, preserve, and advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit all people, communities, and the environment.
I am here today to do just that: to advocate for the preservation of our unique and beautiful environment. An oil spill could have catastrophic consequences for Vancouver. I speak specifically to our shoreline surrounding Stanley Park, English Bay, Crab Park, the beaches of Kitsilano and west Point Grey and the entire foreshore between and around these iconic places.
Oil spills have happened before, and there is no one—NO ONE—who can guarantee that they won’t happen again. In 1973 in the span of a month, two separate freighter incidents on Burrard Inlet resulted in the spillage of bunker fuel oil. Beaches and shoreline in West Vancouver were coated in oil. Local observers noted the immediate ecological effects of the oil spill, particularly the impact on wild birds. SPCA officials predicted difficulty in capturing, cleaning, and rehabilitating oil-covered birds. One West Vancouver resident reported finding two birds “coated in at least two inches of bunker oil.” Another resident of Bowen Island found a dead bird completely smothered with oil. Federal environmental officials began to receive reports of dead fish in English Bay and off Bowen Island.
The Vancouver Sun wrote of this event: that, obviously, human error was inevitable and that “No one needs to be told that man is fallible, the gods whimsical, the immutable combination that makes obscene nonsense of assurances of safety on the proposed West Coast tanker run.”
In 2015, as you have heard earlier, another spill of bunker oil resulted in a clean-up of our pristine shoreline at English Bay. By any measurable standard these were small spillages, and yet they had significant effects on our environment. These events were of great concern to members of our community who enjoy walking, swimming and playing in a safe and beautiful environment. It is unimaginable what a catastrophic oil spill would do to our beaches and shorelines.
As the custodian of our beaches and parks I implore you to deny this application. We know that it is not IF but WHEN the next spill will occur. Will it be a catastrophic one or a minor one? It really doesn’t matter. The outcome will damage our beautiful city and shorelines. I am charged by the electorate to preserve, promote and protect the local environment.  I hold that to be a sacred trust. I will do all I can to protect our precious shorelines and waterways. The risk of oils spills is too great and is unacceptable to the people of this city.  The citizens of Vancouver gave me a mandate when they elected me. Today I use that mandate to ask that there be no expansion of oil shipping in our waterways. Please say no to the Kinder Morgan expansion.

waiting to speak with Cllr. Adriane Carr (photos: J.Miller)

25 July 2016

Commissioner wants Park Board voice heard on moorage-free zone

21 Jul 2016, 24 Hours Vancouver, by MICHAEL MUI, @MUI24HOURS

A Vancouver Park Board commissioner is hoping the city’s parks department will get a say in whether dragon boat racers in the False Creek will get right-of-way when heads butt between racers and moored motorized boats. 

The issue surfaced after a large race was interrupted last month when a motorized vessel veered into the path of racers. 

Vancouver City Hall has already filed a similar motion to discuss with the federal government to consider a moorage free zone in False Creek, with the mayor calling such a move “long overdue.” 

Park Board commissioner Stuart Mackinnon, a dragon boater himself, said the city’s parks division has invested in the docks dragon boaters use, and should get a seat at the table when discussing changes. 

Ultimately, jurisdiction of the waterway rests with the federal government. 

“It’s what, 30 years we’ve been doing dragon boat racing down there, since Expo 86 — it’s amazing that there’s still some people that don’t get it,” Mackinnon said. 

He said that, ideally, during dragon boat racing season, moorages east of Cambie Bridge should be cleared. 

“It’s quite dangerous. The boats swing as the tide turns because of the wind. If they’re in a race course that can be very dangerous to the boats,” Mackinnon said. 

The Park Board motion will be heard on July 25. 

15 July 2016

Arbutus Corridor rail removal completing ahead of schedule

City of Vancouver
Information Bulletin
July 15, 2016

Temporary pathway installation gets under way next week

The removal of train rails and ties from the Arbutus Corridor was substantially completed this week, ahead of schedule. This paves the way for the City to proceed, starting next week, with installation of a temporary asphalt pathway to allow continued use of the space for recreation until construction of the future Arbutus Greenway gets under way.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP) was responsible for all rail removal along the corridor, with the exception of street crossings, as part of the City’s land purchase agreement announced in March 2016. A total of 17 kilometers of rail and 16,000 ties were removed.

The City is responsible for removing the rails at street crossings, work which will be completed at a later date.

The temporary pathway, which will be shared by pedestrians and those riding bikes or on rollerblades, etc. will be installed in sections; the first phase from Fir Street to 41st Avenue is expected to be complete by the end of Summer 2016. The pathway will eventually extend all the way south from 41st Avenue to Marpole. The City will advise residents when the pathway is open for recreation use. Permitted use of the temporary pathway will include walking, cycling, rollerblades and push scooters. No motorized vehicles or scooters will be allowed.

Pathway installation work will take place during City construction hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays and holidays. The public is asked to continue to use caution near construction areas, obey all signage and to use extra caution when crossing roadways.

The Arbutus Greenway project office is expected to be fully staffed and operational by the end of summer 2016. Public consultation on the plans for the new public transportation greenway is expected to begin in the fall.

The public can get more information about the plans for the Arbutus Greenway, watch a video tour of the greenway route as it is today, or sign up for email updates by visiting the City’s website: vancouver.ca/arbutus-greenway.


11 June 2016

What Commissioners and Councillors get up to when you're not looking...

City Councillor Raymond Louie, Park Board Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung and yours truly at the Champlain Heights Community Fair today. Just a little bit of fun for everyone.

Everyone loves a bouncy castle!

 With Champlain Heights CCA President Maria Rantanen. Big thanks to all the Board members of the CHCCA, and especially the volunteers and staff, for making today so much fun.

31 May 2016

Barrier Free BC ***Update***

I am very pleased that at last night's meeting of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, my motion to support Barrier Free provincial legislation passed unanimously. My thanks to Commissioner Casey Crawford for seconding the motion, and to Rob Sleath of Barrier Free BC for all of his inspiration and support.

30 May 2016

Why a Barrier Free BC?

You may not realize this, but there are approximately 604,000(1) British Columbians with disabilities. This number will keep growing as our society ages. Disability affects everyone. Everyone will develop limitations eventually, or perhaps a permanent life-altering disability, as they age.

These people continue to face unnecessary and unfair barriers in areas of provincial jurisdiction such as provincial and municipal government services, public transit, education, health services and public establishments like stores and restaurants. These barriers mean that British Columbians with disabilities can’t fully participate in all that our great province has to offer.

As a public school teacher, I see first-hand the limitations we put on some of our students with disabilities. Some schools are not accessible at all, so that students must travel out of their neighbourhood to access their fundamental right to an education.

Without disability legislation that sets out a comprehensive legislated plan to remove existing barriers and to prevent the creation of new ones, far too many British Columbians will be unnecessarily challenged and prevented from fully participating in their communities. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a part of Canada’s Constitution, and the BC Human Rights Code make it illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability. However, those laws do not set specific, detailed standards for accessibility.

A British Columbians with Disabilities Act would set standards for accessibility so we can start removing and preventing these barriers. Existing disability protections like the BC Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms require individuals to bear the undue hardship of having to personally fight to remove and prevent barriers.

A British Columbians with Disabilities Act would set out enforceable accessibility standards so that all barriers are systematically removed and prevented along reasonable time-lines without individuals having to battle these situations, often through a human rights complaint, one barrier at a time.

Everyone either has a disability now or will develop one as they age. So this issue has an impact on everyone. I’m asking tonight for your support to encourage the province to enact a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. 

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has much it can share with other governments concerning accessibility. Let’s encourage our provincial government to learn from us in making a barrier free BC.

A non-partisan grassroots organization called Barrier-Free BC is gaining public support as they spread the word about this. Find out more by visiting their website: barrierfreebc.org

(1) Extrapolated from Statistics Canada – 2012 Canadian Survey of Disability and Statistics Canada 2015 Annual Population Estimates