16 April 2019

City Council and Park Board meetings to be streamed via a new platform

April 12 2019 – 
 From April 15 onwards, City Council and Park Board meetings will be broadcast using a new live video streaming system.

Earlier this month, we were notified that NeuLion, the previous video streaming provider, would be withdrawing their provision of the Civic NeuLion platform that we use for Council and Park Board meetings.

We have implemented an interim solution to ensure you can still watch meetings online:

Finding past meetings

All videos of the current Council and Park Board meetings (since November 5, 2018) will be made available on the City's YouTube account .

The full archive of historical meetings will not be available immediately but we will be migrating archived footage to the new streaming service as soon as possible.

View meeting progress on Twitter

 As well as watching the live stream of online, residents can also follow the progress of meetings by following the Twitter accounts:

Cannabis in Vancouver parks

I am asked frequently why the Park Board doesn't just issue the 420 organizers a permit. Printed below is the Province of British Columbia's regulation controls on cannabis. As you can see provincial regulations do not allow cannabis to be smoked in parks. This along with the Park Bylaw prohibiting smoking prevents the Park Board from issuing a permit.

 From the Province of British Columbia's Public Safety website:

The federal government legalized non-medical cannabis on October 17, 2018.
With public health and safety top of mind, the Province passed legislation to provide for legal, controlled access to non-medical cannabis in British Columbia. The following regulatory decisions are included in the legislation and amendments:

Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA)

The Cannabis Control and Licensing Act is guided by the Province’s priorities of protecting children and youth, promoting health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis, keeping B.C. roads safe, and supporting economic development.

The Act:
  • Sets 19 as the provincial minimum age to purchase sell or consume cannabis;
  • Allows adults to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in a public place;
  • Prohibits cannabis smoking and vaping everywhere tobacco smoking and vaping are prohibited, as well as at playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks, and other places where children commonly gather;
  • Prohibits the use of cannabis on school properties and in vehicles;
  • Authorizes adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, but the plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property, and home cultivation will be banned in homes used as day-cares;
  • Establishes a cannabis retail licensing regime similar to the current licensing regime for liquor;
  • Provides enforcement authority to deal with illegal sales;
  • Creates a number of provincial cannabis offences which may result in a fine ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, imprisonment of three to 12 months, or both; and
  • Where necessary, to comply with Charter Rights and human rights law, exemptions will provide to individuals who are federally authorized to purchase, possess and consume medical cannabis.

The CCLA also includes consequential amendments to various statutes, including:
  • Liquor Control and Licensing Act to ensure administrative consistency between that Act and the CCLA;
  • Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act to prohibit cannabis smoking under existing leases that prohibit smoking tobacco and to prohibit the personal cultivation of cannabis under existing leases, except for federally authorized medical cannabis. For new leases, the existing provisions of each Act that allow landlords and tenants to negotiate the terms of leases will apply;
  • Police Act to set provincial priorities for policing and require municipal police boards to take provincial priorities and the priorities of the municipal council into account as they develop their own priorities;
  • Community Safety Act to reflect that with legalization cannabis will no longer be a controlled substance under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act;
  • Provincial Sales Tax Act to add a reference to cannabis in the definition of “small seller” consistent with liquor; and
  • Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act to recognize that the CCLA is a complete licensing scheme.


Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA)

As previously announced, the Province has decided that the Liquor Distribution Branch will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C. and will run provincial cannabis retail stores.
The Cannabis Distribution Act establishes:
  • A public wholesale distribution monopoly; and
  • Public (government-run) retail sales, both in stores and online.

Motor Vehicle Act amendments

B.C. has increased training for law enforcement and has toughened provincial regulations by amending the Motor Vehicle Act to give police more tools to remove drug-impaired drivers from the road and deter drug-affected driving, including:
  • A new 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) for any driver whom police reasonably believe operated a motor vehicle while affected by a drug or by a combination of a drug and alcohol, based on analysis of a bodily substance or an evaluation by a specially trained police drug recognition expert (DRE); and,
  • New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) will be subject to a zero-tolerance restriction for the presence of THC (the psycho active ingredient in cannabis).

Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch

  • The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) will be responsible for licensing non-medical cannabis private stores and monitoring the non-medical cannabis retail sector. Visit LCRB’s non-medical cannabis retail licence page for information about becoming a non-medical cannabis retailer in B.C., as well as information updates.

Liquor Distribution Branch Updates

The Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will be B.C.’s wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis.  Visit LDB's cannabis updates page for further information.

12 April 2019

Vancouver park commissioner Dave Demers wants staff to examine optimal uses of land now set aside for golf courses

by Charlie Smith on April 9th, 2019 Straight.com

Some folks are incredibly passionate about using a golf club to whack a small ball around huge swaths of publicly owned land in Vancouver.

These recreational golfers enjoy the camaraderie, competition, and peace of mind that come from this activity.

But is this the optimal use of 15 percent of municipally controlled park land in the city?

Especially when the number of golfers using Langara, Fraserview, and McCleery golf courses has declined by nearly a third since the late 1990s, even as the city's population has risen by 20 percent?
Green commissioner Dave Demers hopes park board staff can address these questions in what he calls a "deep dive analysis".

Demers has prepared a motion for the Monday (April 15) meeting seeking commissioners' support to direct staff to evaluate "the full spectrum of realized and unrealized benefits of Park Board land currently used for golf".

The park board has 187 hectares of land set aside for this sport.

Green commissioner Dave Demers hopes other park board members support his call for a
Green commissioner Dave Demers hopes other park board members support his call for a "deep dive" into the pros and cons of allocating 15 percent of park land for golf.
The park board operates the three aforementioned 18-hole golf courses, as well as pitch and putt facilities at Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, and Rupert Park.

Demers's motion seeks commissioners' endorsement for staff to compare past, current, and expected demands for golf—and the requirements to provide this—with the rest of the board's recreational system.

Demers also wants staff to look at ways of aligning managerial, financial, and planning of golf in conjunction with the rest of the park and recreational system.
And he hopes that all of this can be occur before the board launches any master-planning process on golf courses.

If a majority of commissioners support the motion, staff will return to the board with a report to building on recommendations in the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, Biodiversity Strategy, and Urban Forest Strategy.

The motion calls on the report to also be mindful of Vancouver's Playbook, which is a process that's expected to guide recreational planning over 25 years.

According to Demers's motion, it costs adults $59 to $67 to play 18 holes during the peak season. In the off-season, adult rates range from $28.25 to $36.50.

Golf is profitable for the park board, with $9.9 million in revenue forecast this year.  Park board staff have pegged this year's expenditures for golf at $6.6 million.

Demers's motion acknowledges that $300,000 per year flows into a golf reserve fund, which had $516,000 in unallocated expenditures in March.

The park board's annual operating expenditures this year are forecast to be $66.5 million.

Fungicides are only applied to the greens at Langara (above), Fraserview, and McCleery golf courses.  
Fungicides are only applied to the greens at Langara (above), Fraserview, and McCleery golf courses. 
City of Vancouver
The board's budget does not include an evaluation of the opportunity cost of allocating a significant amount of its land to one recreational activity.

"Golf courses require regular grooming (currently by gas-powered machinery), irrigation, and maintenance to provide healthy & resilient playing surfaces (as with all sport playing fields)," the motion states, "and best practices are employed: irrigation water is provided primarily via aquifer or storm water, and fungicides are only applied to golf greens (about 1.5% of the area."

(c) 2019 Straight.com

08 April 2019

Statement on the completion of the False Creek Flats Panel process

April 6 2019 

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate members of the False Creek Flats Panel on arriving at a recommended option for an arterial route.

Late on Saturday afternoon, after eight days of meetings and deliberations, this committed group residents and business owners completed a process of voting on and ranking among nine possible routes.

This decision was grounded in a unique process of learning and dialogue. The top ranked option was National – Charles. Visit the False Creek Flats Community Panel website for a detailed synopsis of the process, led by the Jefferson Center at: fcfcommunitypanel.com .

This best in class democratic process was a first for the City of Vancouver and Park Board, and we would like to thank the participants for their commitment to their community and city through a significant contribution of time and effort on this challenging technical and, at times, emotional question.

We look forward to hosting the community panel at Vancouver City Council on April 24 and at Park Board on April 30 to present their findings.

City staff will then take the significant public input provided by the report and undertake further technical and feasibility analysis. They will come back in fall 2019 with a full recommendation for consideration by Council.

Again, we thank the participants and the convenors, Jefferson Center, for their efforts in leading and completing this important process. 

23 March 2019

Balloons More Deadly For Seabirds Than Any Other Kind of Plastic

Balloons and balloon fragments are the deadliest kinds of marine pollution for seabirds, killing almost one in five birds that ingest the soft plastic, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Tasmania, examined the cause of death of 1,733 seabirds, 32 percent of which had ingested marine debris. Hard plastics — items like LEGO bricks or straws — accounted for 92 percent of all items ingested. Soft plastics — including packaging, rubber, foam, rope, and balloon fragments — accounted for just over 5 percent of items ingested, but were responsible for 42 percent of seabird deaths. Balloon fragments, specifically, composed just 2 percent of ingested plastic, yet the scientists found that if a bird ingests a balloon or balloon fragment, it is 32 times more likely to die than if it ingests a hard plastic fragment.

“A hard piece of plastic has to be the absolute wrong shape and size to block a region in the birds’ gut, whereas soft rubber items can contort to get stuck,” Lauren Roman, a marine scientist at the University of Tasmania and lead author of the new study, told ABC News in Australia.

Some scientists have predicted that by 2025, the cumulative amount of plastic in the ocean could reach 250 million tons. Some 180 marine animals — including mammals, birds, reptiles, crustaceans, and fish — have been found to ingest plastic. Even some of the smallest creatures in the deepest parts of the ocean have plastic in their stomachs.

Seabirds, which represent a shrinking portion of bird species around the globe, have been shown to consume large amounts of plastic waste, mistaking it for prey such as squid and small fish. Roman and her colleagues say their research could be used to shape future waste management strategies, as well as seabird conservation programs.
—Emma Johnson

21 March 2019

Pacific Great Blue Herons return to Stanley Park for 19th year

 Pacific Great Blue Heron

More than 180,000 people have checked out the Heron Cam since it was launched in 2015. It’s amazing to be able to get a birds eye view of these magnificent birds.  
Stuart Mackinnon, Park Board Chair

March 20 2019 

The long-legged Pacific Great Blue Herons are nesting again in Stanley Park for the 19th consecutive year!

They began returning March 11 to a colony located at the Park Board offices on Beach Ave. It’s one of North America’s largest urban heron colonies.

The Park Board Heron Cam is again live-streaming with a birds-eye view of 40 nests until the end of the breeding season in August. Viewers can take control of the camera, zooming in on multiple nests, using different angles.

Birds eye view

“More than 180,000 people have checked out the Heron Cam since it was launched in 2015. It’s amazing to be able to get a birds eye view of  the nesting, courtship, mating, nest-building, and egg-laying of these magnificent birds,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

“HeronCam supports engagement by residents with nature in the city as part of our  Biodiversity Strategy and Vancouver Bird Strategy and enables our partner the Stanley Park Ecology Society to better monitor and protect the health of the colony.”

In 2018, there were 85 active nests and an estimated 98 fledglings raised. This was a higher success rate overall for the colony compared to slightly lower numbers in 2017.

Nest success in 2018

The SPES Stanley Park Herony Annual Report 2018 says last year’s return to normal amounts of nest success is likely due to decreased bald eagle predation. While not necessarily directly related, in Stanley Park there were only two successful bald eagle nests last year compared with four successful nests in 2017.

This year, we will offer a moderated Facebook Live Q and A, where partners at the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) will answer questions about the herons. SPES will set up a weekly in-person interpretation at the colony to answer questions.

The Pacific Great Blue Heron is unique because it does not migrate. Their natural year-round habitat is the Fraser River delta which is under pressure from urban development, resulting in the loss of feeding and breeding grounds. One-third of Great Blue Herons worldwide live around the Salish Sea and the Stanley Park colony is a vital part of the south coast heron population.  

Heron Cam is a collaborative effort between the Park Board and SPES, who have an Adopt a Heron Nest program which supports efforts to educate, monitor and maintain the herons and protect their home in Stanley Park.

12 March 2019

SPCA applauds Park Board decision to consider AnimalKind pest control standards

 March 12, 2019
The BC SPCA applauds the Vancouver Park Board’s decision to review its pest control management strategies for wildlife and rodents at the city’s parks and recreational facilities. The motion (PDF) was brought forward by Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon and passed unanimously at the Board meeting on March 11. Park Board staff will also assess if it would be possible to incorporate the BC SPCA’s AnimalKind standards for pest control (PDF) into its contracts.

The Board raised concerns about rodenticides causing secondary poisoning to animals that prey on rodents and travelling up the food chain, and turned to the BC SPCA to explore alternative methods are available for the humane control of wildlife. The BC SPCA’s AnimalKind standards and accredited pest control companies focus on removing the animals and preventing future problems instead of trapping, relocating or killing.

AnimalKind standards also outline best practices for rodenticide use, and note they should only be used when the continued presence of mice or rats is an ongoing threat to human health and safety. AnimalKind is an evidence-based accreditation program that was created in partnership with the UBC Animal Welfare Program, through the grant support of the Vancouver Foundation.

“We applaud the Park Board for being a leader on this issue,” BC SPCA chief scientific officer, Dr. Sara Dubois says, “Rodent control is unfortunately a necessary practice, but AnimalKind standards aim to minimize the amount of suffering these animals experience. The BC SPCA looks forward to working with municipalities and other institutions to see how AnimalKind can work for them.”
Pest control businesses that are interested in becoming AnimalKind should contact the BC SPCA at animalkind@spca.bc.ca for more information.

08 March 2019



VANCOUVER, B.C. – On Monday March 11, 2019, Green Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon will table a motion asking staff to review pest control management strategies for wildlife and rodents at Vancouver Parks and Recreation facilities. Mackinnon’s motion references the millions of animals who suffer each year from inhumane pest control methods and states that alternative methods are available.
Mackinnon’s motion further directs Park Board staff to assess the viability of including AnimalKind standards into its pest control contracts; AnimalKind is an animal welfare accreditation program for pest control companies set up by the BC SPCA.
“This is about ending needless suffering; and about preventing the harm or even deaths of animals that aren’t the intended targets of pest control,” said Mackinnon.
“Too often animals like hawks, dogs, cats, and owls suffer or die from consuming poisoned animals or the poison itself. All animals, whether they are the targets or not, should be spared unnecessary anguish if we can avoid it.
“Wildlife and rodent management is a necessary role of the board but we can and should be leading by example when it comes to humane practices and protection of wildlife.”
More Information:
Stuart Mackinnon: +1 604-379-7715

25 February 2019

Assessment of Pest Control Policies

Tonight I submitted my first Notice of Motion for this term: 


1.       Each year millions of animals suffer from inhumane pest control 
2.       Rodenticides cause secondary poisoning of non-target animals that prey 
          on rodents and travel up the food chain.
3.       Alternative methods are available for humane control of wildlife; 
4.       Wildlife and rodent management is a necessary role of the Vancouver
          Board of Parks and Recreation;


  A.  THAT the Vancouver Park Board request staff to review pest control management strategies for wildlife and rodents at Vancouver Parks and Recreation facilities, including how and where rodenticide/lethal control/relocation are used, and the cost of existing contracts; 

 B.   FURTHER THAT staff assess the viability of including BC SPCA AnimalKind wildlife and rodent control standards into pest control contract language.

For more information on AnimalKind visit the BC SPCA.

23 February 2019

Vancouver reconciliation with Indigenous peoples starts with parks: An interview with Conference Keynote Rena Soutar

by | Feb 11, 2019 |ParkPeople.ca
reprinted by permission

 Vancouver reconciliation with Indigenous peoples starts with parks: An interview with Conference Keynote Rena Soutar
 Rena Soutar is one of the keynote speakers at Park People’s upcoming Heart of the City Conference taking place in Montreal, June 12-14, 2019. Rena Soutar is the first Reconciliation Planner at Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. Register or apply to attend the Conference. 

For 3,000 years, Indigenous peoples lived on a densely forested peninsula overlooking the Salish Sea in what is now called Stanley Park. It was home to the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam peoples, and there was a village onsite called Xwayxway, where potlatches were held as late as 1875. Today, Vancouver’s largest iconic park holds little trace of its Indigenous ancestry.

Following the land’s official designation as Stanley Park in 1886, most Indigenous inhabitants were removed without remuneration. This displacement took place in parks across the city. According to the Vancouver Park Board:

“One of the core acts of colonialism is the removal of entire communities from their ancestral homes. This has been undertaken by the Park Board since its inception—beginning with the declaration of jurisdiction over ‘Stanley Park’, as well as beach areas around the City.”

The Vancouver Park Board is trying to address these past wrongs. Reconciliation is the goal. It means something unique to everyone, but ultimately it involves building a new relationship between Canadian society and Indigenous peoples. According to the Vancouver Park Board, it is more than a ceremonial acknowledgement of these territories. It is an opportunity to learn Vancouver’s true history and recognize the unjust treatment of Indigenous peoples.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Rena Soutar, Reconciliation Planner with the Vancouver Parks Board. “With jurisdiction over green spaces, beaches, and community centres, the Park Board serves a diverse population. However, we are learning that Indigenous communities are not well-served in our current system.”

The process of reconciliation started in January 2016, when the Vancouver Park Board adopted 11 strategies in response to the 94 calls to action issued by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The strategies include adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, training staff on Indigenous issues, and establishing a program for artists to create works inspired by reconciliation, including an artist residency in Stanley Park.

“Musqueam artist Chrystal Sparrow is the inaugural artist to practice her art in the A-Frame cabin at Second Beach. She has an open house once a week where visitors can learn from her lived experience and cultural insights,” said Ms. Soutar.

 Chrystal Sparrow working FB
 Photo credit: City of Vancouver

To further support its ambitious Reconciliation agenda, the Parks Board recently approved a “colonial audit” which will outline its colonial history and seek to formally apologize to the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations for “core acts of colonialism.” The Park Board also hired Ms. Soutar to consult with Indigenous leaders to ensure Indigenous history, values, and memory practices are reflected in its policies and programs. This includes planning new and existing parks.

Northeast False Creek Park is one of the first new parks they are working together on. The park is part of a master plan for a large area of undeveloped land around the Georgia Viaduct in downtown Vancouver (the viaduct is slated for removal….RIP Vancouver’s only downtown freeway). Staff are working closely with local First Nations and urban Indigenous communities to ensure principles of cultural practice, ecological stewardship, and visibility of the three Nations are reflected in the park’s design.

“Northeast False Creek Park is the first major new park to be designed since the Parks Board has undertaken a commitment to decolonizing our approach. It has resulted in broader and deeper engagement with local First Nations and other Indigenous advisory groups,” said Ms. Soutar.

While the Vancouver Parks Board and local First Nations are creating a path forward for working on future parks, they also established a new collaboration on the city’s oldest park, which was once a source of dark history for them both.

In 2014, the Park Board received a letter from the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh governments, who came together to reiterate their rights in Vancouver – specifically Stanley Park. The Nations had individually sent letters previously, but for the first time, the Board agreed to meet and ultimately to work together towards a long term, comprehensive plan for Stanley Park.


“The Park Board now meets monthly with representatives of the three local First Nations governments to develop a comprehensive plan for Stanley Park with a 100-year vision,” said Ms. Soutar. “There is a lot of trust to be built, but we’re finding that when it comes to the park, our values and principles align.”

One of the Stanley Park Working group’s first tasks is renaming Siwash Rock, a beautiful, iconic rock in the park whose current name implies a derogatory reference to Indigenous people. In First Nations culture, the rock, estimated to be about 32 million years old, represents a man turned to stone to honour his purity and dedication to fatherhood.

“For over 100 years, The Park Board was the narrator and curator of cultural narrative in Vancouver’s parks. This has long contributed to the erasure of the local First Nations,” said Ms. Soutar. “We are now in a prime position to correct these situations and demonstrate what a decolonization process within a Reconciliation framework can look like in a public institution.”

Jillian Glover is a communications professional who specializes in urban issues and transportation. She is a former Vancouver City Planning Commissioner and holds a Master of Urban Studies degree from Simon Fraser University. She was born and raised in Vancouver and writes about urban issues at her blog, This City Life.

Visit Park People for amazing articles and information on urban parks in Canada.