16 October 2018

Reconciliation

Reconciliation is more than just words.


Reconciliation is a long and important process. Stuart Mackinnon has shown leadership on park board through motions to learn traditional Indigenous places names and undertaking a colonial audit of the ways the Vancouver park board's decisions have contributed to colonization.

15 October 2018

Collaboration


 Greens believe in a collaborative approach to problem solving. Green  commissioners will work with all elected park board commissioners to make better parks for everyone.


03 October 2018

The 2018 VPSN Park Board Candidate Survey

The Vancouver Public Spaces Network is an all volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing public space for the benefit of all Vancouverites. Each election they sponsor a survey of park Board candidates in the Vancouver civic election. Here are the ansers I gave to their 2018 survey: 


Vancouver is one of only a few cities with an elected Park Board – and this year’s election will give voters a chance to elect a total of seven Commissioners. As with previous elections, we are asking candidates to share some of their ideas and passions about parks and recreation facilities through a short questionnaire. We want to give them a chance to go beyond basic platform materials so share a deeper sense of their priorities for office.

We reached out to each of the 33 contestants for office on Thursday, September 27, and asked them to weigh in on the questions below. We’re publishing their answers – sorted by question and by candidate – as we receive them.

Park Board Candidate – Stuart Mackinnon (Green Party)

Top 3 priorities – City of Vancouver candidate form
  1. Sustainable Parks
  2. Affordable Recreation
  3. Reconciliation
Platform – City of Vancouver candidate form
“The Green Party will: Honour Vancouver’s rich, natural beauty by prioritizing ecological, social, and economic sustainability for projects undertaken by the Park Board. We take a proactive stance toward increasing biodiversity, protecting wildlife, and preserving habitat. Greens will work in close collaboration with our partners and staff to provide a welcoming and inclusive standard at every Park Board facility, for all ages, genders, abilities, and backgrounds. We will promote reconciliation, healthy recreation, and active transportation.”

1. What is your favourite park or park board facility in Vancouver, and why?
Most days I get to walk along the Fraser river at Riverfront Park. On weekends a walk along the western beaches or through Stanley Park recharges me. The truth is every park offers a unique experience. Every community centre reflects their neighbourhood. This is one of the reasons why Vancouver is often listed as one of the most liveable cities in the world.

2. We’ll be sharing the top three priorities that you provided the City of Vancouver, but we want to know: which one of your three priorities are you most passionate about, and why?
As a candidate for the Green Party, sustainability is my most important priority. Preparing Vancouver, a sea-bound city, for the changes brought about by climate change has to be at the forefront of every decision we make. We must ensure that new facilities meet the needs of today and tomorrow, and that we continue to look after the assets we already have.

3. Vancouver is a growing city! What are your ideas for ensuring that the city’s parks and recreation facilities can respond to the needs of an increasing and diversifying population?
Ensuring that parks and recreation facilities are open and welcoming to all. Our community centres should be hubs for everyone, young and old, with day-care, fitness facilities, recreational programming, and seniors’ centres. Whether you are new to Canada, new to the neighbourhood, or new to this world, a warm and welcoming community centre can help at every stage of growth, development, and life. The diversity of Vancouver should be reflected in the programming offered. Community centres must be safe spaces for all, and open to all regardless of income, age, gender, ability or background.

4. Given the high cost of land in the city, what suggestions do you have for how the Park Board should approach the creation of new park spaces?
New ideas are needed to face the growing densification of Vancouver. We cannot continually look backward to another time when land was plentiful and costs low. Smaller pocket parks like they have in Montreal, using unused or repurposed spaces like the Highline in New York City, or creating public spaces where none existed before like the new Oakridge project are just some of the ideas we need to look to. We need to look to the future not the past to have better parks and recreation for all.

5. What, if any, role do you see the Park Board playing in responding to critical social issues such as homelessness, the opioid epidemic, and social isolation?
Community Centres can and should be used for emergency shelters when temperatures become unmanageable on the streets. In the past term some Commissioners wanted to close these facilities and leave the most vulnerable to freeze on the streets. Luckily this was defeated. While the park board alone cannot solve the social problems of Vancouver, in partnership with the City, Coastal Health, the police, and other partner agencies, we can work together to find safe spaces where our vulnerable population can find shelter and support. Working with other agencies we can keep our parks clean and safe. Working together as a community we can ensure that all public spaces are open to all.

6. In the past few years, the Park Board has taken steps to acknowledge First Nations cultures and the impacts of colonization on local Indigenous communities. Would you continue this work? If yes, how?
Yes. Reconciliation is more than just words. The Vancouver park board has undertaken real efforts to work with local First Nations to work toward reconciliation through truth-telling. From truth-telling can come healing. Creating opportunities for dialogue with both the land-based First Nations and the urban indigenous people is the first step. Listening and working in partnership will lead to better understanding and is the path to true reconciliation.

7. How can Vancouver’s parks and recreation facilities best respond to the challenges posed by climate change?
As a sea-bound city, recognizing climate change will have a profound impact on our city is paramount. Planning for sea level rise, ensuring our community centres are prepared to be emergency hubs, and educating the population on measures they can take to mitigate and prepare for change is a key role for the park board. The park board has been, and must continue to be, a lead local agency in natural mitigation and preparedness. Planning for climate change at the park board has already started. This must continue to be a priority.

8. What, if any, role do you think privately owned companies should play in the management, operation, or naming/branding of Park board facilities?
One of the greatest forethoughts of the city was the creation of a park board. This has ensured that public spaces, like parks and community centres, are open to all. I have fought the continuing commercialization of our public spaces for 20 years. Corporate branding and naming have no place in public spaces. Our park workers are some of the best in the world with unique local knowledge and experience. All park board facilities should be managed and maintained by park board workers.

9. What, if any, role do you feel that neighbourhoods or community groups should play in the stewardship of park spaces and facilities?
The community must play an important role in the stewardship of park spaces and facilities as park partners. The community is the reason such facilities exist and must therefore be at the centre of it all. Local input creates the feeling of local stewardship. Regular users become the ‘eyes & ears’ reporting deficiencies and needed improvements. Neighbourhood groups can bring a sense of community that can be lost in a big city. The stronger the partnership, the greater the sense of ownership and community.

10. Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your platform?
As a Green, I believe in a collaborative approach to problem solving. Guided by this principle the park board has made great strides in the past 4 years, but there is so much more to do. I’m running for re-election with the Vancouver Green Party because we know that working together works best for everyone.


More Information
City of Vancouver – Park Board candidate webpage

For lots more information visit the VPSN website here.

Stuart Mackinnon: For a brighter future, vote for better parks—vote Green

by Stuart Mackinnon on October 2nd, 2018 at 11:09 PM
The Straight.com


The need—and the desire—for more public spaces will continue to increase as Vancouver densifies. To ensure a healthy city, our citizens need vibrant public spaces. I’m running for reelection with the Green Party because I want to keep Vancouver’s parks green, clean, and welcoming.
The park board is almost as old as Vancouver itself, but we can’t keep looking backwards and wish for a city that no longer exists. We must move to planning for a future that includes parks for all.
I have been at the forefront of prioritizing infrastructure renewal because over the years our recreational facilities have been neglected: neighbourhood outdoor pools have been closed; community centres have deteriorated; and too little money has been reinvested. The next capital plan is set to renew our infrastructure and build for the future. The next term will determine where these priorities will be set. I want to be there to advocate for you.
Residents know what they want from their parks and recreation facilities. Community-centre associations know best what their members want in programming. That's why for the past four years I’ve been working on a stronger partnership between the park board and community organizations reflecting these values. And that’s why for nearly 20 years I have been promoting neighbourhood services to enhance local communities.
Parks and recreation must be for everyone. That’s why I’ve been working toward accessible spaces for everyone, regardless of age, income, gender, or ability. That’s why I’ve been at the forefront of Reconciliation, ensuring that respect and truth-telling are a part of every decision we make. That’s why clean, accessible washrooms have been my priority. That’s why I’ve been challenging the continued commercialization of our parks.
Vancouver’s natural beauty is worth protecting. Our children not only need places to play but also places to enjoy and explore nature. We all need places of tranquil refuge from our busy lives. We need parks that reflect these values. We need to daylight our hidden streams and ensure they are salmon-safe. We need to protect our tree canopy and add to it. We need beautiful parks, vibrant gardens, and calming passive spaces.
Vancouver loves to play. Our sports fields need to be ready for both competitive teams and recreational pick-up games. Working with our park partners, we need to improve the quality of our fields and sports courts and invest in new surfaces like indoor tennis, field hockey, lacrosse, and roller derby, for the growing population of athletes and players. We also must ensure the fields and spaces we have meet national and international standards.
Vancouver is a growing and dynamic city. We can’t rely on outdated concepts of design and programming. We need to develop new, innovative ideas to enhance our urban experience: new ways of making parks; new ways of developing public spaces; new ways of offering programming to reflect our new and growing population.
Best practice must be met with innovation. Sustainability must be matched by biodiversity. Serving our youth, seniors, families, and all the diverse communities that make Vancouver the amazing city it is must be at the forefront of everything we do in parks and recreation. Better parks are not only possible but necessary to keep Vancouver on the leading edge of a brighter, healthier, and more active city.
I want to continue to serve the people of Vancouver. The Green park board team is dynamic, knowledgeable, and compassionate. We have the knowledge, experience, and passion to make our parks and recreation the best it can be. I want to work with Dave Demers and Camil Dumont on making better parks for Vancouver. I want a brighter future.
Please vote for the entire Green team at parks. On October 20, vote for Dave Demers, Camil Dumont, and Stuart Mackinnon. Vote Green.
Stuart Mackinnon is the current chair of the park board and is running for reelection with the Green Party of Vancouver.

02 October 2018

Park board to test out liquor sales at two Vancouver beaches

Next summer, you can enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine at English Bay and Kitsilano Beach as part of a two-year seasonal pilot.

01 October 2018

GREEN PARTY RELEASES PARK BOARD PLATFORM

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Green Party of Vancouver has released their park board platform, ‘A brighter future for our parks’, for the 2018 municipal election.

Greens feel it a deep privilege to live in such a beautiful and diverse place, and to call Vancouver our home. We understand that with such privilege comes great responsibility. New pressures are acting on our parks and recreation system, and in ways we haven’t seen before. Our city is changing rapidly. Just as we must celebrate, enjoy, and honour what we have built over time, we must also work together to grow, evolve, and adapt to the unique challenges of our time.

Green Park Commissioners will continue to bring vitality and innovation to our parks and recreation system. They are committed to greater sustainability, equity, and innovation. They will work to ensure Vancouver remains a leader in personal, social, ecological, and economic health.

Highlights of the Green Party park board platform include:

  •     Revising the current “no net loss” policy to a “net positive” formula to expand green space.
  •     Developing a comprehensive program to sustainably manage dog waste.
  •     Implementing standards for salmon-safe streams.
  •     Fulfilling the Board of Parks and Recreation’s commitment to undertake a colonial audit as part of prioritizing the reconciliation process with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil- Waututh First Nations.
  •     Initiating a pilot project to allow limited alcohol consumption at select beaches and parks.
  •    Advocating for a network of clean, accessible public washrooms.

Quotes:

Dave Demers, horticulturist and candidate for park board, “Parks are the playground of our urban lives, and should be designed to answer our modern needs. Once elected I will push to modernize our parks and policies. I would make it my number one priority that we all have a fair and easy access to nature.”

Camil Dumont, horticulturist, urban farmer and candidate for park board, “I have over a decade's experience as a worker in the park board. What that's done is allow me to understand the system from a worker's perspective, from the bottom up. I feel like having practical knowledge and practical experience in the field is particularly important for people that are setting policy.”

Stuart Mackinnon, current park board chair and incumbent park board commissioner, “The need and the desire for more parks and green spaces will continue to increase as Vancouver densifies. To ensure a healthy city our citizens need vibrant public spaces. I look forward to continuing the important work with a focus on access, preservation, reconciliation and conservation of our parks and green spaces.”

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More information:
A brighter future for our parks, Green Party of Vancouver Park Board Platform

Media contact
Alex Brunke, Press Secretary
+1 778-938-2378 | alex.brunke@vangreens.ca

26 September 2018

GREEN PARTY ANNOUNCES COMMITMENT TO PUBLIC WASHROOM ACCESS

MEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – SEPT 26, 2018 

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Green Party of Vancouver has announced a commitment to public washroom access across the city. 

Public washrooms support public health. Green Party park board commissioners will make clean, accessible facilities a priority. In particular, Greens will work in close collaboration with municipal partners and staff to provide a welcoming and inclusive standard at every park board facility, for all ages, genders, abilities and backgrounds.

Current park board chair Stuart Mackinnon, who is running for reelection with the Green Party of Vancouver, has long been an advocate for public washrooms across Vancouver. During his terms as Commissioner, Mackinnon has consistently advocated for increased public washroom access and championed the availability of hand soap. He is adamant that publicly accessible bathrooms need to be approached as a public health issue.

“I am pleased to see that Vancouver’s 2019-2022 capital plan includes $12.3 million to maintain and renovate publicly accessible washrooms, which includes washrooms in field houses and concession stands. Park board needs to work with city council on building even more public washrooms, and ensuring that all new civic infrastructure includes accessible washrooms for all.”

Michael Wiebe, a current park commissioner running for city council, highlighted the opportunity for collaboration on this issue between council and the park board. 

“Public washrooms are an essential part of liveability in Vancouver. People often do not think about how necessary they are until they need one. As a councillor, I intend to advocate new developments include publicly accessible washrooms outside the building when they’re located adjacent to parks. I look forward to working collaboratively with park board to ensure public washrooms are clean, safe and accessible for when people need them.”

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More information:

When you haveto go… by Stuart Mackinnon