17 October 2019

Glow in the Garden at VanDusen back for another season of Halloween fun

Pumpkin decoration

With the evenings getting darker and the air crisp and cool, the lights and displays offer an exciting and fun way to experience the beauty of VanDusen, under the spell of Halloween.

Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon

October 16 2019
Embrace the Halloween spirit at VanDusen Glow in the Garden, an enchanted stroll through the lit-up display gardens.

Glow in the Garden takes place every evening from October 17 to 27 with three one-hour time slots (5pm, 6:30pm, and 8pm). This year, a new light show with a wildlife and nature theme has been added to the unique displays and magical moments suitable for visitors of all ages.

“VanDusen Glow in the Garden is fantastic way to see the gardens, decorated and lit up to embrace the Halloween spirit, and enchantment of fall,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

“With the evenings getting darker and the air crisp and cool, the lights and displays offer an exciting and fun way to experience the beauty of VanDusen, under the spell of Halloween.”

A “hootenanny” spell has been cast

For this year’s theme, the old barred owl has played a Halloween trick by casting a “hootenanny” spell and making everything glow. Visitors can help Anna the hummingbird and her friends lift the spell as they journey through the garden. Kids can collect six stamps at the Glow zones and redeem them for a small prize at the bootique located inside the Visitor Centre halls.

Buy tickets in advance

VanDusen Glow in the Garden has been expanding each year since it began in 2016. Many evenings sell out, so it is recommended visitors buy tickets online in advance.

Online admission prices are $9.50 for children ages 3-12, $11.50 for seniors, youth and VBGA members, and $13.50 for adults. Children two and under are free. Ticket price includes access to the Halloween walk in the garden, participation in crafts, and a scavenger hunt with a small prize for kids if the hunt is completed.

VanDusen Glow in the Garden is sponsored by Exhibau. VanDusen Garden is jointly operated by the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association.

Stanley Park Ghost Train

Glow in the Garden is just one of two spectacular Halloween events hosted by the Vancouver Park Board. The Stanley Park Ghost Train is in full swing with a spooky new theme, Alice in Nightmareland.

Visitors to the train will discover things aren’t what they seem as a teenaged Alice falls down the rabbit hole again. Follow Alice and the Not-So-White Rabbit through an endless series of stone doors and enter into a gothic nightmare world of creatures, crypts, and catacombs.
The Ghost Train runs until October 31. Find details and tickets

Original post here

16 October 2019

Vancouver approves an equity-focused parks strategy for the future

October 15, 2019

Jake Tobin Garrett
Park People

Following a multi-year effort, last week the Vancouver Park Board approved its citywide parks and recreation master plan. Dubbed VanPlay, it will guide investment in parks and recreation for the next 25 years. Vancouver is the only Canadian city—and one of the only in North America—with an elected Park Board that governs the city’s green spaces.

VanPlay was necessitated by a much-changed, much-grown city bumping up against a number of challenges such as equity, population growth, and changing demographics and needs. 

For example, despite the fact that Vancouver has more parks now than it did 25 years ago, the amount of park space per person has declined by one third due to population growth. In short, people have outpaced parks. 

In the Canadian City Parks Report, our survey of Canadian park systems released this summer, Vancouver ranked lowest in average park provision with 2 hectares of parkland per 1000 people (see graph below). While this was low, it was also in line with other major urban centres like Toronto (2.7ha) and Montreal (2.4ha), showing how growth and density is challenging park systems across the country. 

Despite falling lower on parkland provision, Vancouver shone in the Canadian City Parks Report, which compiled data, but also surfaced stories about leading practices. 

Vancouver showed its dedication in striving for a progressive park system through policies such as instituting all gender park washrooms and performing a colonial audit of the city’s park system.

Vancouver brings that progressive focus to VanPlay. This is a report that features quotes from Audre Lorde, an explanation of intersectionality, and a diagram outlining the spectrum of privilege and oppression.

Vancouver’s focus on park equity stems from a recognition that the city’s park development has been historically uneven, creating inequities between neighbourhoods in park access and quality. 

As our cities explode with growth, it’s critical that we reckon with past planning and patterns of growth that have created uneven access to quality parks. We know parks provide multiple environmental, social, health, and economic benefits that everyone in a city should be able to share in equally. But how do we know where to invest limited public dollars?

The breakthrough in VanPlay is the use of geospatial data (a fancy way of saying data that is tied to a certain location, like income in a particular neighbourhood) to identify underserved areas where increased investment in parks should be targeted. 

The Park Board is calling these areas Initiative Zones. 

Initiative Zones were identified by examining three layers of data:
  1. Park access gaps: Areas where people are more than a 10 minute walk to a park and/or areas that are served by less than 0.55 hectares per 1000 people.
  2. Demand for low barrier recreation: The number of residents that have registered for the city’s Leisure Access Program, which provides low-cost recreation access.
  3. Tree canopy gaps: Areas of the city that have less than 5% tree canopy coverage. 

Now that this model has been created, the Park Board can layer other factors over time to reveal more nuance or target specific policy areas. 

These additional layers could include income, survey data on community engagement and satisfaction, locations of past capital investments by the city, and demographic data such as age. 

For example, the Park Board shows how layering on the city’s growth areas can provide further guidance on where to direct funds. Areas of the city experiencing growth pressures can often meet parks investment needs through the development process, whereas areas that are low or no-growth — but may rank as underserved — don’t have that same opportunity. The report concludes that equity strategies should target these lower growth areas for public investment. 

As Park Board Commissioner Camil Dumont told Mash Salehomoum, Park People’s Vancouver Program Coordinator, at the meeting where VanPlay was approved:
For me, this is the ultimate set of goals to inform my decisions. The sweeping and explicit prioritization of equity in such a monumental report really makes me proud of the work that we do at the Park Board.” 
Of course, data only tells part of the story — a fact that the Park Board recognizes. The report’s recommendations include on-going engagement between communities and the Park Board to assist in interpreting the data and understanding the lived experience behind it. The Park Board also has plans to make this data publicly available online through a mapping tool on their website.

It’s not hard to see what a powerful analytical decision-making tool VanPlay could become.

Other VanPlay highlights

 Water, resurfaced

Vancouver is a city defined by water. When I lived there, I loved running along the seawall, or watching cargo ships unload at Crab Park, or chasing bunny rabbits at Jericho Beach. Water in Vancouver seems to be everywhere. And yet, as the report notes, 91% of urban streams in the city have been buried throughout its history.

As part of the City’s work on biodiversity as well as creating a city more resilient to the extreme rainfall events made more common through climate change, the VanPlay strategy aims to bring more of these streams back to the surface. This will create more natural habitat, new amenities for people, and also help manage rainwater during storms.
Streets to parks
We don’t think about it often, but streets represent the largest amount of public space we have in our cities—often about a quarter of the entire land area of a city. In Vancouver, streets represent 32% of the city’s land area, while parks sit at 11%. That’s a big public space resource for a city struggling to meet the public space needs of its growing population. 

Vancouver is already a leader in rethinking streets as public space, and VanPlay encourages more of this thinking with a recommendation to work with Planning and Engineering to create parklets, street closures, laneway activations and more.
Connectivity enhancers
Connectivity is another big feature of VanPlay. Vancouver already boasts the longest continuous waterfront trail in the world (the 28km sea wall that wraps around downtown) and a burgeoning system of bike lanes. VanPlay hopes to take this further.

An interesting element in the report is what the Park Board is calling “network enhancers.” These are elements—like bike repair stations, wayfinding, lighting, and seating—that bolster connectivity by increasing utility, safety, or pleasure between destinations.

Perhaps your walk between school and the park includes a small pollinator garden, a place to fill up your water bottle and a colourful piece of public art. 

We can’t always thread our city together with linear parks, but we can use these “network enhancers” to make the experience more enjoyable.

View the full VanPlay report here. You can find Vancouver’s City Profile in our Canadian City Parks Report here.

For the original Park People post go here.

12 October 2019

Got leaves? Fall leaf collection is coming up!

City-wide extra leaf collection turns your fallen leaves into nutrient rich compost

October 4 2019 –

Vancouver trees are now shedding their leaves in preparation for winter.  We be-leaf it’s time to remind residents about the City’s fall leaf collection program and the steps we can all take to prevent flooding and keep our streets and sidewalks safe.

Extra leaf collection weekends 

Leaves collected by residents from their property, sidewalk and boulevard can be put in the Green Bin. Extra Leaves that don’t fit into the Green Bin can be placed in paper yard waste bags or in store-bought bins (maximum 100 litres) and set out on these leaf collection weekends:
  • October 26 and 27, 2019
  • November 16 and 17, 2019
  • December 14 and 15, 2019
  • January 11 and 12, 2020 (Christmas trees will also be collected)
Residents are encouraged to keep their filled paper yard waste bags as dry as possible before setting them out for pickup to prevent the bags from tearing during collection. Leaves set out in plastic bags will not be collected, including bags labelled compostable or biodegradable plastic. 

Crews will collect extra leaves on either the Saturday or Sunday, but not both days. To ensure pickup, residents should set their leaves out before 7am on the scheduled Saturday.

There is no Green Bin pickup service on extra leaf collection weekends. Residents should set out their Green Bin on their next scheduled collection day.

Leaf removal from city streets 

Starting in mid-November, the City coordinates a city-wide street cleaning program to remove fallen leaves from streets. Residents are asked to move their vehicles when temporary “no stopping” signs are posted so crews can properly clear and sweep their street. Vehicles parked in “no stopping” zones will be ticketed and may be towed to a nearby location.

Help prevent flooding

Residents or businesses should never rake or blow leaves onto catch basins, streets, sidewalks, or bike lanes. Raking or blowing leaves onto the street or sidewalk can create a safety hazard for pedestrians and cyclists, can cause flooding and is a fineable offence under the Street and Traffic By-Law.

Turning leaves into nutrient rich compost

Collected leaves are turned into nutrient-rich compost at the Vancouver Landfill. This compost can be purchased by residential gardeners, commercial landscapers, and municipal park boards. Leaves and other yard trimmings can also be dropped off for a fee at the Vancouver South Transfer Station located at 377 West Kent Ave North and at the Vancouver Landfill located at 5400 72 Street in Delta.
Find more helpful guidelines on our fall leaf collection program

Residents can get reminders for scheduled pickup days, recycling drop-off events, and leaf collection weekends by downloading the VanCollect app.

see original post here

11 October 2019

My remarks on the conclusion of VanPlay

[ You can watch this portion of the meeting here ]

Since first being elected in 2008, I have had the honour and pleasure to be in involved with what I consider to be the three greatest achievements of the Board of Parks and Recreation in its recent history: the renewal of the Joint Operating Agreements with its Community Centre partners; our commitment to truth-telling, reconciliation and redress; and now VanPlay, our masterplan for the next 25 years and beyond.

All of these achievements have come about through the hard work of our staff and our outside consultants. There are too many to thank individually, but I do want to make special acknowledgments to: Curt Culbertson of the Design Workshop team; Dave Hutch, our Director of Park Planning and Development; Doug Shearer, our Manager of Policy, Planning, and Environment; and especially to Katherine Howard, the project manager.

This is truly a great achievement. The final reports show what a mammoth undertaking this has been. Personally, I am most pleased to see the overarching commitment to equity.

None of this, the JOA renewal, our commitment to reconciliation, or VanPlay would have been possible without the foresight, oversight, and leadership of our General Manager, Malcolm Bromley. To you Malcolm, to everyone involved, my heartfelt thanks and admiration. 

Thank you. Well done.

VanPlay master plan sets course for Vancouver’s next 50 years

October 10 2019 –

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has endorsed the final two reports of VanPlay, the city’s parks and recreation services master plan. The plan, developed over the past three years with input from thousands of residents, stakeholders, partners and consultants, outlines the bold moves that represent a new way of thinking, with equity, asset needs and connectivity at the core of Park Board planning and decision-making.

VanPlay is the map and compass that will guide us as we plan and grow parks and recreation opportunities for the next 50 years,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “More importantly, VanPlay will give this Boardand Boards well into the futurethe powerful tools, lenses and rationale to build an equitable and connected parks and recreation system.


The approval of VanPlay represents a significant and defining moment for the Park Board; a commitment to the equitable delivery of parks and recreation opportunities in a connected, efficient manner which celebrates the unique history of the land, place, and culture.

The VanPlay strategy will have positive and sweeping implications for much of the Vancouver Park Board’s day-to-day operations, as well as park and facility planning. Most notably, three Strategic Bold Moves (38 MB) (Equity, Asset Needs, and Connectivity) will enable staff to focus resources, projects, and capital planning outlooks in a more purposeful way.

Decisions driven by equity

Bold Move 1: Equity provides staff and the Park Board with tools to begin to address imbalances in the delivery of resources such as trees, parks, land use and infrastructure. The community and stakeholders were clear that equity, inclusion, and access are top priorities for the future, with a focus on increased transparency around decision-making and priority-setting.

Using the Initiative Zones equity tool, historically under-served areas of the city can be identified. By focusing projects, resources, funding, and effort on these areas of the city, over time, provision will become more equitable.

Assets to meet Vancouver’s growing and changing needs

Bold Move 2: Asset Needs, takes stock of the Park Board’s assets – which include park space, sports fields, ice rinks, and urban forests, to name a few, and considers future needs through goal setting to provide service excellence. Targets provide the ability to measure goals over time, prioritize investments, and align funding.

A vision for a connected parks and recreation system

Bold Move 3: Connectivity, intends to create vibrant, healthy communities by encouraging the connection and integration of parks and facilities with the neighbourhood, the city, and the region. The connected network will create places to play, exercise and socialize while providing pathways for the movement of urban wildlife and rainwater, with direct and intuitive connections for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages and abilities.

The concept is based on Vancouver’s famous seawall, a pathway that provides connections with a park-like experience and also reflects First Nations principles such as a strong sense of belonging on the land, relationship to the water, and the importance of gathering spaces and places to heal.

The plan to get us there

VanPlay also includes a Playbook Implementation Plan (6 MB), which identifies foundational tasks and approaches for action such as setting clear policy, supporting effective communication, and building robust data and mapping resources, which will ease the implementation of the entire suite of VanPlay recommendations.

VanPlay is the culmination of three years of intensive and unprecedented engagement with Vancouver residents, stakeholders, park and recreation partners, staff, Board members and industry consultants. In all, over 30,000 conversations took place, including more than 4,000 during a tour of the city with a pop-up playground. Nearly 4,000 surveys were completed, and more than 600 people attended the VanPlay Smart City talk series to hear dozens of speakers explore potential ideas for the future of parks and recreation in Vancouver.

In July, 2018, the Board approved the Inventory and Analysis report, which describes the current state of parks and recreation in Vancouver, including findings from community, staff, and stakeholder engagement relating to current challenges and opportunities for the future, and 10 Goals to Shape the Next 25 Years, which sets out aspirational objectives to position the Park Board to respond to challenges and opportunities.

The last parks and recreation master plan was completed over 25 years ago. Vancouver has changed dramatically in the intervening years, and this new city-wide parks and recreation services master plan will do much to enhance long-range planning, policy, and service goals. VanPlay recognizes Vancouver’s parks and recreation system’s many challenges, including inequity, increasing and varying community needs, climate change, aging infrastructure, stretched resources, and ever-shifting urgent priorities.

– 30 –

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation are stewards of a network of over 240 parks and a large public recreation system of community centres, pools, sports fields, golf courses, and street trees. Its mission is to provide, preserve, and advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit all people, communities, and the environment. see original post here.

10 October 2019

Vancouver Park Board’s newest park adding to livability of East Fraser Lands

October 8 2019 – 

Neighbourhood Park South—part of 10 hectares (25 acres) of new parks and green space planned for the East Fraser Lands—is open and already becoming an important part of the new and growing community.

Located just north of the Fraser River and framed by two low-rise towers to the east and west and Riverwalk Avenue to the north, the 1335 square metre (0.33 acre) park features platform benches and picnic tables, as well as robust planted berms composed of native vegetation and a variety of trees including beech, vine maple, and mountain hemlock.

Heart of a new neighbourhood

“It’s a modest park, but one that is rapidly becoming the heart of Vancouver’s largest and last new waterfront neighbourhood that will eventually be home to 15,000 people,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

Neighbourhood Park South is part of the Vancouver Park Board’s commitment to create 25 acres of new parks and green space in the East Fraser Lands (also known as the River District).
The parks and green space will link to riverfront trails and connect visitors to the Fraser River – British Columbia’s longest and most storied river.

Enhancing access to nature

The greenway portion along the Fraser River will support the Park Board’s Biodiversity Strategy by enhancing access to nature for residents and increasing habitat for local birds and wildlife.
Design and construction of all parks in the East Fraser Lands are funded through Development Cost Levies. Construction of Foreshore and Kinross parks is anticipated to begin in 2020.
The site is being developed by Wesgroup Properties and will eventually house more residents than Yaletown.

01 October 2019

Vancouver Park Board approves Track and Field Strategy

October 1 2019 

The Vancouver Park Board has approved the Track and Field Strategy, a document that will guide short-and long-term investment, management, and programming at Vancouver's track and field facilities.

The approval of the strategy allows several projects to proceed to next steps, including the development of Vancouver’s first regulation competitive track and field training facility at Vancouver Technical Secondary School and upgrading existing track and field facilities at Templeton Park and Kerrisdale Park/Point Grey Secondary.

Much-needed roadmap

“The Park Board recognizes the physical and mental benefits of sport and physical activity among children, youth and adults,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “The Track and Field Strategy is a much-needed roadmap for investment in our city that will ensure we have the facilities and supports in place for people of all ages and abilities to have access to inclusive, low barrier amenities that support walking, running, and competitive track and field.”

The strategy was unanimously approved by the Park Board at its regular meeting on Sept. 30 after hearing from a number of stakeholders and advisory group members, including Diane and Doug Clement, both former track and field Olympians who expressed their gratitude for renewed investments in track and field in Vancouver.

The Clements spoke passionately about Vancouver’s rich history in track and field, noting the new facility would do much to match the city’s world-class amenities.

Vancouver-born Barbara Howard became the first black woman to represent Canada in international competition at the British Empire Games in 1938. Sixteen years later, Vancouver made headlines around the world as the site of Roger Bannister’s Miracle Mile at Empire Stadium in 1954. Olympic sprinter Harry Jerome, whose statue graces the Coal Harbour waterfront in Stanley Park, is one of the city’s best-known track athletes, competing in three summer Olympics and winning bronze in the 100 metre in the 1964 games.

Four themes

The strategy, developed in partnership with the Vancouver School Board, provides a framework and recommendations under four themes:
  1. Design and infrastructure
  2. Access and participation
  3. Programming and cooperation
  4. Management and operations for Vancouver’s 14 existing facilities, and for future expansion
Comprehensive public engagement helped shape the strategy and included input from more than 4,000 stakeholders. Outreach included surveys, pop-up events, advisory group meetings, and open houses. Engagement partners included the Vancouver Field Sport Federation, Vancouver Sport Network, BC Athletics and the BC Wheelchair Sports Association, as well as numerous community and varsity track and field clubs and societies.

Next steps for the strategy include concept plans for the Category A facility at Vancouver Technical Secondary, and detailed design and contract award recommendations for the upgrades at Kerrisdale Park/Point Grey Secondary and Templeton Park.

original posting here

27 September 2019

Oppenheimer Park: We can have safety with compassion

The following are remarks I made last night at a Special Meeting of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation called to discuss Oppenheimer Park. 

No one has a monopoly on compassion. No one has a monopoly on caring about safety and security. I believe that every elected representative in Vancouver wants the best for the residents of the city. I have said that the decisions made by this Board have been done out of compassion, but I have also said the Board believes that safety is of paramount concern. 

These two ideas are not mutually exclusive. We can have safety with compassion. The focus tonight, and for the past months, has been on Oppenheimer park. But it is not the only park that have tents in it. Commissioners have to see that all parks are susceptible to camping and many do have campers in them. 

Our by-laws do not reflect this, but the Supreme Court of British Columbia has said that in the absence of alternatives, camping in parks is acceptable. In a landmark case in 2015, Justice Hinkson said that that homeless people are allowed to erect temporary shelters in parkland because of a lack of accessible shelter space in the city. Hinkson’s ruling struck down a bylaw banning temporary shelters in local parks. While he did restrict this to the hours between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. he said tents were allowed.

More than anything I want to find safe and secure housing for the people in Oppenheimer park and return the park to the community as a public space. This is what this Board has been asking for. 

In a recent interview, Theo Lamb of the Strathcona BIA, said that an injunction would lead to a quick displacement, and without a thoughtful plan ‘just move people out, moves them around’. She reiterated that this is not just an Oppenheimer issue, Strathcona issue, it is a city issue.

Tonight, we have heard the consequences of not having adequate housing or a plan in place to find this. The Park Board cannot supply housing and so we ask, we implore, the City and the province of British Columbia to find safe and secure housing for not only the campers in Oppenheimer, but to all of the people who are homeless.

Many of the people camping in Oppenheimer and throughout the city are indigenous. This discussion, like all we have at the Park Board, must be done through the lens of reconciliation. I would like to read something into the record here:

We have endured a lot. Where the connection to cultural identity has been lost, many Aboriginal people live with a constant sense of contradiction and compromise. The challenge is trying to live in two worlds, while currently being ill-equipped to live in either one. But when we are culturally strong in our world, Aboriginal people are strong living in any world. The key is being able to control one’s life. It’s about being able to make decisions over how that life unfolds.

These are the words of the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould from 2007 when she was the BC Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. 

No decision should be made without hearing from the people in the park. I encourage senior levels of the police and fire and the City to reach out and have deep and meaningful discussions with those in the park.

Yesterday I met with the Mayor and had a robust and frank conversation. We talked about ways the city could help and how Park Board could be supportive. I am optimistic that solutions can be found.

City Council will debate 2 motions next week to address this. I thank them for their commitment to the residents of the City, those with and without housing. I commend them for taking the leadership in this. I pray that a solution will be found that is fair and just to all members of the community and will lead to a safer neighbourhood for everyone.