19 May 2016

13 Principles for a British Columbians with Disabilities Act

Barrier-Free BC is a Non-Partisan Campaign advocating for the Enactment of a Strong and Effective British Columbians with Disabilities Act, providing a Barrier-Free province for All Persons with Disabilities. Below are the principles of the organization.

1)    The Act sets a timeline:
The goal of the British Columbians with Disabilities Act is to achieve a Barrier-Free province within a specific and clearly defined deadline set by the legislation; a timeline which begins immediately upon proclamation and will include checkpoints at regular intervals until existing and on-going barriers are removed.
2)    The Act applies to all:
The Act will apply to all persons with disabilities whether their disability is considered physical, sensory, cognitive, communication or mental health related and will include visible, invisible, permanent or episodic conditions. The Act will apply to all government departments, crown corporations, companies, organizations and any other entity that is regulated under provincial jurisdiction.
3)    The Act sets the bar:
A British Columbians with Disabilities Act will supersede all other legislation, regulations or policies which provide lesser protections or entitlements but will protect any rights which persons with disabilities have already earned and currently enjoy.
4)    The  Act removes barriers:
The Act will require the Government, including provincial and municipal regulated organizations, to be made fully accessible to all persons with disabilities by the removal of existing barriers and the prevention or creation of new barriers. These barriers may include but are not limited to physical, legal, information, communication, attitudinal, technological or other barriers.
5)    The Act champions barrier-free goods, services and facilities:
The Act will require all provincially regulated service providers to ensure that their services and facilities are fully usable by persons with disabilities based on principles of universal design. Service providers will be required to develop and implement detailed plans to remove existing and to prevent the creation of new barriers.
6)    The Act champions barrier-free workplaces and employment:
The British Columbians with Disabilities Act will require organizations to take proactive steps to achieve a barrier-free workplace and employment opportunities. Employers will be required to develop and implement plans for the removal of existing and prevention of new workplace and employment barriers.
7)    The Act charges Government with the responsibility to lead, educate, train, inform and review:
The British Columbians with Disabilities Act will require Government to lead the province toward achieving the goals of the Act and fulfilling its mandate. It will further require  Government to provide education, information and resources for provincially regulated businesses and organizations which must comply with the Act. The BC Government will be required to appoint an independent person to periodically review and publicly report (at regular intervals) on progress towards the goal of full accessibility.
8)    The Act is enforceable:
The Act will provide for a prompt, independent and effective process for enforcement. This will include a comprehensive and clearly defined avenue for persons with disabilities who encounter barriers which are in violation of the legislation to raise and submit complaints to enforcement officials.
9)    The Act is made real through regulations:
The BC Government will be required to make regulations that clearly define the steps needed for full compliance under the Act and that said regulations be independently reviewed a minimum of every four years. It will be open to recommendations made on an industry-by-industry or sector-by-sector basis. This will include a requirement that input be obtained from persons with disabilities and disability-related organizations prior to enactment.
10) The Act will ensure public monies are not used to create or perpetuate barriers:
The Act will require that the BC Government ensures that no public money is used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities. Government departments, agencies, and crown corporations should be required to make it a strict condition of funding programs, transfer payments, subsidies, loans, grants, capital or infrastructure projects that no such funds may be used to create or perpetuate barriers. There should also be a requirement that procurement of goods, services or facilities be fully accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. The BC Government should be required to monitor and enforce these requirements and to periodically report to the public on their compliance.
11) The Act is a lens through which to vet legislation:
The Act will require the BC Government to review existing legislation and regulations identifying possible accessibility barriers and develop timelines to address the shortcomings.  Government will review all future proposed legislation and regulations before they are enacted to insure accessibility barriers are not about to be created.
12) The Act sets policy:
The British Columbians with Disabilities Act will influence and affect the development and implementation of provincial policy thereby enhancing and improving access to a full range of goods, services and programs not currently available to persons with disabilities in BC.
13) The Act has real force and real effect:
The Act must be more than mere window dressing. It should contribute meaningfully to the improvement of the position of persons with disabilities in British Columbia enabling them to fully participate and enjoy community life. It must have real force through effective enforcement mechanisms which lead to real effect.

18 May 2016

Notice of Motion: Barrier Free BC

At the 16 May 2016 meeting of the Board of parks and Recreation I put the following motion on notice. Hopefully it will be debated at the meeting on Monday 30 May 2016.

Mover: Commissioner Mackinnon

British Columbians with disabilities encounter a variety of physical, sensory and technological barriers as well as ones related to communication, education, employment, attitudes and many others on a daily basis.

And whereas
The Federal Government of Canada is working toward the goal of enacting a Canadians with Disabilities Act which will require goods, services and facilities which come under their jurisdiction to be accessible to all persons with disabilities.

And whereas
A Canadians with Disabilities Act will only apply to goods, services and facilities made available through Federal Ministries and federally funded programs with no ability to apply a similar requirement on goods, services or facilities made available through provincial governments or provincially regulated businesses.  

And whereas
The Government of British Columbia launched a non-mandatory; non legislated initiative entitled "Accessibility 2024" on June 16 2014 with the goal of making BC the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities by the year 2024.

And whereas
The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has been a leader in providing accessible and inclusive programming and facilities.

Be it resolved
The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation formally supports the Barrier-Free BC movement  that is calling upon BC's Legislative Assembly to enact a strong and effective British Columbians with Disabilities Act.

You can find more information on Barrier Free BC at: barrierfreebc.org

17 May 2016

Park Board approves contract for new parks in south east Vancouver

The Vancouver Park Board has approved the design contract for four new parks in the south east corner of the city. Totaling 7.8 acres, the parks are part of the Park Board’s commitment to create 25 acres of new parks and green space in the East Fraser Lands.
The parks included in this contract will link up to trails along the Fraser River and create ecological connections to Everett Crowley Park and Fraserview Golf Course to the north.
“These new parks will enrich the entire community in and around the East Fraser Lands, an area currently undergoing considerable urban development,” says Park Board Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung. “The greenway portion along the Fraser River will support our BiodiversityStrategy by enhancing access to nature for residents and increasing habitat for local birds and wildlife.”
Together, the four parks will also create a network of open spaces for the neighbourhood and could include features such as plazas, play areas, ecological spaces, greenways and lawns.
Funding for the design work comes from the 2015-2018 Capital Plan, specifically through Development Cost Levy (DCL) contributions.
Design work will take place through 2016 and 2017 and construction is scheduled to begin in 2018.
For more information on the design contract, please refer to the EastFraser Lands Consultant Contract report.
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Media contact:
Vancouver Park Board

Beach chair and umbrella rental available soon at English Bay beaches

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk
For the first time ever you’ll be able to rent a chair and an umbrella at English Bay this summer.
The Vancouver Park Board has approved a two-year pilot project for the rental service.

Stuart Mackinnon was one of two commissioners who voted against it.
He says it perpetuates the commercialization of public spaces.
“It’s separating those who can afford and those who cannot afford. Our public spaces and our public beaches are for everyone.”
Blue Hole Investments will operate the service under the name “The Vancouver Shade Company.”
It will pay up to 18% of gross annual revenues back to the Park Board.
No word on how much it will cost to rent a chair or umbrella.

15 May 2016

More on Riverfront Park

When is a park not a park? City of Vancouver and residents face off


West Fraserlands resident Rob Howatson in the field that the city plans to turn into a daycare. Arlen Redekop / PNG

What looks like a park, smells like a park, and is even dubbed a park might not be a park at all.
That’s one of the lessons stemming from a battle breaking out between residents and the City of Vancouver over plans to redevelop a playing field in (or as the city corrects, beside) Riverfront Park into a daycare and, eventually, a school.

It’s a move that has some locals worried over a loss of playing space for themselves and the projected future population in the area approaching 17,000, around the size of Squamish or Salmon Arm.

From the perspective of residents, the quarrel dates back to November when city staff proposed an amendment to the East Fraser Lands official development plan that would push a future daycare west of the 52 hectare development area and onto a small field at 3010 E Kent Avenue South.
From the city’s perspective, the date to bear in mind is 1989, when the site was zoned for an elementary school and child care centre. It wasn’t until a few years later that park board turned the lot into the temporary playing field it is now, staff note.

The city has good reason to move the daycare from its previously planned space, given that it was destined for a spot south of Marine Way where kids could suck in pollutants as they played outside. There is also an existing shortage of child care spaces west of the development area, and moving it a little closer to those families can’t hurt.

But the move would also free up room in East Fraser Lands for more residential development, contingent on a community consultation and rezoning process.

“Given a significant community and city-wide need, and the city’s goal to achieve affordable, family-oriented housing in East Fraser Lands, this use would be a consideration for this site,” according to a statement from the city. It’s a consideration that was not clear from the city’s communication slides staff presented at a recent open house on the matter.

Rob Howatson is among those protesting the city’s plans. Protesting is not exactly an everyday thing for Howatson, who disclosed that he had to use the Internet to search for “how to make a protest sign” before heading out to join other residents at a Thursday rally. “Our ask is grass,” the sign ultimately read.

About 40 residents turned up to protest the loss of playing field space at 3010 E Kent Avenue South, Thursday May 12, 2016.
About 40 residents turned up to protest the loss of playing field space at 3010 E Kent Avenue South, Thursday May 12, 2016. Andre Bleich / Vancouver Sun
About 40 residents turned up to protest — a rare (if not first-time) activity for many, which pointed to the built up frustration, Howatson said.

“We know the city’s capable of getting creative and we want them to do that,” he said, pointing to an initiative by the city to put daycare spaces onto the roof of a downtown parkade. “We’d like to see the city get creative here and find a site in the river district.”

For Howatson, the biggest problem with the city’s plans is the loss of unscheduled play space in an area slated for growth. “We’re looking ahead,” he said, noting that although there’s a lot of walking room in the area, there’s not much open space for play.

That’s a point Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon agrees with.

“While it may look like we’re park rich in that area … it’s not recreational in the sense that you can play there,” he said, noting that much of the nearby green space is devoted to forested or waterfront paths and a golf course. And while the city’s plan calls for the eventual development of a pair of playing fields in East Fraser Lands, one will programmed, Mackinnon said.

About 40 residents turned up to protest the loss of playing field space at 3010 E Kent Avenue South, Thursday May 12, 2016.
About 40 residents turned up to protest the loss of playing field space at 3010 E Kent Avenue South, Thursday May 12, 2016. Andre Bleich / Vancouver Sun
Over the decades residents have come to use the space heavily, said objector Bill Grulkey. The space is now popular with neighbours, their dogs and ultimate Frisbee players, he said.

Even the city occasionally appears to treat the field as though it were park land; the lot appears green and is labelled Riverfront Park on the city’s mapping app, and an ultimate field is listed on the city’s website as being among the park’s amenities. Park board staff regularly cut the grass and maintain the space.

All that considered, there is little park board can do about the matter, Mackinnon said.
The city is asking for feedback from residents on the proposed amendments and there will be a public hearing in June or July, staff say.


04 May 2016

Birds of a feather are flocking together!

Vancouver Park Board
News Release
May 4, 2016
Birds of a feather are flocking together for
Vancouver Park Board’s annual Bird Week!
Look, linger and listen during Vancouver Bird Week, May 7 – 14.
Bird Week is a week-long series of events to celebrate Vancouver's birds. It was inspired by World Migratory Bird Day, a United Nations-sponsored initiative that recognizes the importance of birds as the key indicators of our environment's health.
“Vancouver residents have embraced Bird Week since it was launched in 2013 and events fill up quickly,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung. “Birds are visible markers of a healthy ecosystem and watching and listening to them helps reduce stress.”
The theme this year is Birds in our Garden and there are more events than ever before.
“Interest in Vancouver as a birding destination is growing among residents and international ornithologists who will flock here for the International Ornithological Congress in 2018,” said scientist, author and film maker Rob Butler. 
There will be free bird-related art workshops, walks, talks, exhibitions and lectures across Vancouver highlighting backyard birds and how to improve their living environment around us. Bird Week events include:
·         Hands-on with Birds, May 7 - 14
·         Garden Plants for Birds, May 7
·         VanDusen Bird Walk with Richard Wing, May 7
·         UBC Plant Sale, May 7
·         Dawn Chorus Walk, May 8
·         Mothers’ Day Bioblitz, May 8
·         Photographing Birds, May 8
·         Meet the Photographer-Bird Photography Exhibition, May 9
·         Owl Prowl, May 9
·         Create Graphic Stories Based on Back Yard Birds, May 10, 11 and 13
·         The Messenger (exclusive screening) with introduction by David Suzuki, May 11
·         Bird Taxidermy, May 12
·         Chinese Brush Painting, May 12
·         Bird Week Big Day (bird count), May 14
·         Bird Walks in Vancouver parks, May 14
·         Introduction to Bird Watching, May 14
·         Discovery Station: Birds of VanDusen, May 14
·         Build Your Own Nest Box, May 14
·         Drawing Birds: An Introduction, May 14
·         Sea Safari of Howe Sound, May 14
·         Bird Week Finale, May 14
Vancouver Bird Week is organized by a collaborative partnership of non-profits, artists, and other institutions, in  partnership with the Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver.

Bird Week supports the Park Board’s Biodiversity Strategy and City of Vancouver’s Bird Strategy.
More information can be found at vancouverbirdweek.ca.
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Media contact
Vancouver Park Board