02 February 2016

Vancouver biodiversity plan to restore 25 hectares of natural ecosystems by 2020

by Carlito Pablo on February 2nd, 2016 Straight.com

The Vancouver Park Board has approved a plan to enrich the natural environment of the city.
Park commissioners voted unanimously on Monday (February 1) in favour of a biodiversity strategy to restore or enhance 25 hectares of natural areas by 2020.

“It’s the road map for improving access to nature for all Vancouverites and ensuring biodiversity is a celebrated part of city life well into the future,” park board chair Sarah Kirby-Yung said in a statement.

According to a staff report, natural areas are forests, wetlands, streams, and other ecosystems that are composed primarily of native plants and animals. Older forests in Stanley Park, wetlands in Jericho Beach Park, the Still Creek corridor, and Trout Lake are among the natural areas in the city.
Vancouver had 847 hectares of natural areas as of 2010, according to staff. These include forests, shorelines, streams, wetlands, and meadows.

Priority actions include restoring native forests in large parks such as Stanley, Jericho Beach, Musqueam, Everett Crowley, and Renfrew Ravine.

Another measure is the improvement of the ecosystem health of False Creek, Still Creek, and Musqueam Creek.

“While the Biodiversity Strategy emphasises the importance of native ecosystems and species, it also recognises the value of urban habitats such as green roofs, constructed wetlands, and pollinator gardens in supporting biodiversity within the city,” the staff report explained.

The target of 25 hectares is roughly the size of the VanDusen Botanical Garden, and half the area of the Langara Golf Course, according to staff.

Staff also noted that Stanley Park accounts for 28 percent of the total area of parks in Vancouver, and around 67 percent of all natural areas in the city.

“Biodiversity is interwoven into Vancouver’s urban landscape: migrating songbirds nest in our forests, salmon spawn in our remaining streams, and tall trees define some of our most important parks,” according to staff.

Staff also emphasized that biodiversity is “part of a healthy city, access to nature sustains the mental and physical health of Vancouver’s citizens”.

12 January 2016

Park Board approves 11 recommendations in response to Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Vancouver Park Board
News Release
January 12, 2016
The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has endorsed 11 ambitious strategies to advance the historic work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its programs and facilities. 
The strategies address critical themes identified by the Commission including language and culture, commemoration, professional development and training for public servants, education for reconciliation, youth programs and sports.
Specific measures adopted by the Board Monday night include a “360 degree” approach to programming in culture, health and sport in order to increase public awareness and support for First Nations children, youth and elders in Park Board programs. In addition, the Board will establish a program for native and non-native artists to collaborate on works inspired by reconciliation themes and carefully consider aboriginal rights in granting permits for special events and sport hosting. 
The Board also reaffirmed its commitment to its precedent-setting intergovernmental consultation with First Nations on stewardship of Stanley Park and other park lands.
“I’m very proud the Vancouver Park Board is the first municipal government body in Canada to implement recommendations in response to calls to action provided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC),” said Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung. 
“The Board showed leadership early in its mandate, including a historic meeting with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, and is already engaged in substantial work related to the actions identified by the TRC.”
The Board’s actions were applauded by organizations working with the aboriginal community.
“I’m pretty stoked to see Vancouver Park Board working to implement Truth and Reconciliation recommendations,” said Scott Clark, Executive Director of Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement.
“All vulnerable children, families and Elders should have full access to the many programs that the 24 community centres deliver. This is how we create inclusive, reflective and engaging centres.”
After the TRC released its findings last spring, the Board asked staff for an action plan. The staff report recommended that the Board make changes related to many of the TRC’s 94 calls to action, leading to the 11 strategies adopted last night.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada aims to redress the legacy of residential schools and work toward reconciliation between Canada and its Aboriginal peoples. 
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Media contacts:
Vancouver Park Board

04 January 2016

Keep it green this holiday season and recycle your Christmas tree

January 4, 2016 10:15 AM

City of Vancouver
Information Bulletin
January 4, 2016
Keep it green this holiday season and recycle your Christmas tree
It’s that time of year again. The holidays have come and gone and now it’s time to figure out what to do with the Christmas tree!
Vancouver residents have three green options this month for recycling their live, cut Christmas trees. Prepare trees for recycling by removing all tinsel and decorations — this is important as these materials will contaminate the compost.
In partnership with the Lion’s Club, residents are invited to bring their Christmas trees to one of the four locations listed below on Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

1.   Kerrisdale Community Ice Rink parking lot
5670 E Blvd, north of 41st Ave
2.   Sunset Beach upper parking lot
Beach Ave and Broughton St
3.   Kitsilano Beach parking lot
Cornwall Ave and Arbutus St
4.   Rona Home & Garden, Grandview store
2727 E 12th Ave, overflow parking lot north of Grandview Highway, south of 12th Avenue

Donations of cash and non-perishable food items will also be accepted and will be distributed to local charities.
Residential Collection
Christmas trees will be collected city-wide the weekend of January 16-17. To ensure your tree is collected, please set it out before 7:00 am on Saturday, January 16. Trees should be set out on their own and laid on their sides. Do not put your tree inside your Green Bin or bag or bundle it.
Free Drop-off at Landfill or Transfer Station
Christmas trees can be dropped off until January 31 — at no charge — to the Vancouver South Transfer Station or Vancouver Landfill.
For more information on recycling Christmas trees and other yard trimmings, visit vancouver.ca/christmastree.
Media contact:
Corporate Communications

01 January 2016

Professor Emerita Beth Alber honoured with lifetime achievement award

Monday, 7 December 2015


OCAD University Professor Emerita Beth Alber is the 2015 recipient of Craft Ontario’s John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement. This is one of the most prestigious markers of exceptional commitment to the development of craft in Ontario.

Alber is a celebrated master maker, in both silversmithing and public art. She is also an influential instructor and mentor who began teaching at the Ontario College of Art in 1979. From 2002 to 2009, Alber served as chair of OCAD U’s Material Art & Design program. She was appointed associate dean of the Faculty of Design in 2010 and, after 33 years of service, retired from OCAD U in 2012.
A member of the Royal Academy of Art, the Society of North American Goldsmiths, Women’s Art Resource Centre and CARFAC, Alber has exhibited her work widely across Canada. Her best known project is the commission of public art for the Women’s Monument Project in Vancouver, BC. Alber served as a board member at the Ontario Crafts Council from 1986 to 1988 and 1995 to 1997, and was president of the Metal Arts Guild of Ontario from 1985 to 1987.

Since 1981, the John and Barbara Mather Award has been presented to individuals who are “truly outstanding in their fields and have displayed exceptional commitment to the further development of craft in Ontario and throughout Canada.”

see original post here.

29 December 2015

Ten New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

2015 saw some significant changes at the Park Board table. The atmosphere of hostility and showmanship decreased appreciably. However, with the NPA majority on the Board, some things have reverted to old ways of thinking. The focus on commerce and commercialization of our public spaces has taken a great leap forward. I have always believed that commercialization of public spaces is generally wrong. Alcohol fueled parties should have no place in public spaces, except in extraordinary circumstances. While I have approved some of these this year, the number of permits coming to the Board has been an ever increasing concern of mine.

This Board made a commitment to negotiate a new Joint Operating Agreement with the Community Centre Associations (CCAs). One year later and we still have not been successful. It will take some determination and compromise on both sides to achieve this.

Being in a minority in a highly partisan system means that not all of the issues I think are important will be achievable, but I will continue to work for what I believe is both in the public interest and, quite frankly, the right thing to do. These include a public discussion on cetaceans in captivity, and a shift away from destination facilities and back to a neighbourhood focus.

So here are ten resolutions, or wishes, for the the New Year:

 1. A new Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) between the Park Board and the Community Centre Associations that is fair, effective, and sustainable. One that recognizes the uniqueness of our CCAs as well as equity of access and core programming within the system. 

 2.  More scheduled meetings with community groups to build trust and genuine dialogue.

 3. Better partnering with sports and community organizations to prioritize field maintenance. 

 4. Introduce more local food products into our parks facilities.

 5. Introduce an animal-waste composting program for our local dog parks.

 6. Work on stream day-lighting and seek salmon-safe certification for all parks.

 7. Make a commitment to build at least one neighbourhood outdoor pool in this term.

 8. Create a long-term budget and financing plan for continued facility maintenance.

 9. Create policies to end the continuing erosion of parks by commercial enterprise.

 10. Put in motion a city-wide plebiscite on keeping cetaceans in captivity in our parks for the 2018 civic ballot.

For 2016, making neighbourhoods the priority, by giving them the tools to make planning decisions that reflect community needs and values, is my goal.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year.

22 December 2015

A Year in Review at the Vancouver Park Board

The Green Party of Vancouver values our network of community centres as the real centre of the community.  In an increasingly densified city, our parks and our waterways are everyone’s backyard and should be maintained and enhanced with sustainability and accessibility top of mind. Green Commissioners Michael Wiebe and Stuart Mackinnon have been hard at work protecting your values. Here are some of our highlights:

 Connecting With Community
    Our motion to permit public input and comment on all Commissioners’ motions was defeated, with the NPA opposed to the idea.  Current practices limit public speaking at Park Board meetings.  This is just not good enough to ensure real community engagement.

  At the Chinese New Year parade

    A motion by Stuart reminded the Park Board of past practices that involved the community in naming our parks and his colleagues now agree.  Under the previous Vision-led administration, the Park Naming Committee never met, but now, a Committee is being struck to name two parks.

    Stuart spoke out against the proposed recreational fee increases.  In particular, he continued to oppose the application of fees to children who are under 5 years of age.  This is a significant barrier to participation at a time when we should be encouraging active participation, establishing a lifelong commitment to active living. 

      Green Commissioners

Promoting Sustainability
    There was unanimous support for our initiative to increase water fountains and water filling stations at Park Board facilities and parks.  

    There was unanimous support for Michael’s initiative to improve water quality and achieve zero beach and recreational water closures in our City’s waters.
Speaking out about the English Bay oil spill

    We were proud to support our colleague’s suggestion for a campaign to reduce improper discharge of waste in local marinas and anchorages.

    Michael gained support from commissioners for the Park Board to propose strategies that will reduce the negative impacts of future drought and water restrictions.  Options include reducing water consumption, reusing and/or recycling grey water.

Inclusive and Respectful Relationships
    Michael and Stuart participated in the first ever “Trans Gender Open Swim” at the Templeton Pool.
 A first for Vancouver at Templeton Pool
Thornton Park is home to the monument to the women murdered at Montreal’s l’école Polytechnic. Stuart has been vigilant in ensuring this monument is maintained in good condition, reflecting his commitment to honouring those who have been victims of violence and abuse.  Stuart is committed to ensuring a permanent solution to the maintenance problems plaguing this important monument.

Committed to a permanent solution
Parks and Community Centres for All
  Michael’s motion for a collaborative initiative to improve access to all parks and facilities for Persons with Disabilities, the LGBTQ communities, and Seniors passed unanimously.

  Stuart’s motion at the final meeting of the year asking the Park Board to develop a comprehensive program of supports for refugees, recognizing Vancouver’s commitment to welcoming people in their time of need, was praised by all Commissioners and passed without dissent. 

This is just a snapshot of some of the issues Michael and I dealt with this past year. You can read about others throughout this blog. I will endeavour to keep you informed throughout the remainder of this term through BetterParks for Vancouver. I hope you will come back often. Michael and I thank you for your on-going support. Without you, we couldn't do it.

16 December 2015

One Year In, Same Old Politics

Last Monday's meeting of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation was the final one of 2015 and marked the one year anniversary of this group of elected Commissioners. The evening started well with a staff update on the Urban Forest Strategy. This was a good news story; after several years of our canopy declining, the City and Park Board are working to increase it on both private and public lands. Other business included a new lease for the Fish House Restaurant in Stanley Park, a report on planting more Ornamental Cherry trees, and a special event in the Olympic Village neighbourhood.

With the business of the Park Board Committee over, the Board meeting began with elections for Chair and Vice Chair of the Board as well as the same for the Committee. Once again the NPA used their majority to take all 4 positions, simply shuffling the deck.

There were two motions concerning refugees presented. My motion to work in partnership with the City, Community Centre Associations, and Immigrant Services to support refugees passed unanimously. This motion looks to support all refugees over the long term. 

A second motion presented by Vision Commissioner Catherine Evans asked staff to look into using unused caretaker cottages in our parks for temporary use for Syrian refugees arriving imminently. I had asked staff before the meeting if this was possible and they suggested that 3 or 4 of the unused cottages could be used with some additional work. Commissioner Evan's motion would have directed staff to prepare a brief for us on the costs and time-line needed to prepare them and a decision could then be made quickly. 

Instead of welcoming this innovative and generous idea, the NPA used their majority to block it by referring it to staff (a strange move as the motion was to have staff look into it), as they believed this measure was already included in my previous motion. This is not true as my motion was looking at long term planning and a report back is not expected until the spring. By that time the use of the cottages will be unnecessary as hopefully by then the refugees will have found permanent accommodations. By referring the motion they have essentially killed the idea.

It is unfortunate that the NPA blocked Commissioner Evans motion for short term support for soon to arrive Syrian refugees. Commissioner Wiebe and I joined with Evans to support her motion as we believe there are many ways we can support our new Canadians. At this time when we wish peace and goodwill to all, I found it sad that not everyone agreed.

Partisan politics seem to still be at the forefront of civic affairs. There was some hope that after last year's election a new way to work could be established. I still have hope. Being Green means expecting the best, but being prepared to challenge when anything less is presented.

09 December 2015

Update on Le Marche St. George

City of Vancouver
Information Bulletin
December 9, 2015
Update on Le Marche St. George
In response to several media requests, the City would like to clarify that Le Marche St George, a popular local market in East Vancouver, is not about to be shut down by the City. Reports about an imminent closure as early as this weekend are completely false. As stated yesterday, City staff will work with the owners to better understand business practices and look at options to enable the activities at Le Marche St George to continue.
The City values local businesses and wants to increase and enable cafés and patios throughout the city. The Council motion of June 23rd is the latest example of these efforts: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20150623/documents/motionb5.pdf
Le Marche St George is approved as a grocery store. A recent complaint from a neighbour identified some bylaw issues related to their restaurant and special events. Regulations of food service industry falls to Vancouver Coastal Health. The City is always looking to update outdated bylaws to enhance quality of neighbourhoods and support local independent markets and cafes, and looks forward to working with the owners to ensure the market and its activities can continue.
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Media Contact:
Corporate Communications