21 March 2012


By Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier March 21, 2012

A former park board commissioner says a proposal to change the way parks and public spaces are named by the Vision Vancouver-dominated park board opens the door to nepotism.

Stuart Mackinnon served one term on the park board as a Green Party commissioner until last November.

Mackinnon says if the proposal is approved, the change means the community has less say in naming parks and public spaces, while the politicians have more. He says this is the way parks were named before 2007, when it was decided the community should lead the naming process.

According to a parks staff report, there are a number of new parks that will be named within the next two years. As a result, the report says the way things are done today is too "resource consuming."

A committee created for each park with approval from the park board names parks. Staff wants to eliminate committees and move to a web-based model, which would still include community input and final approval from the board.

In an email to the Courier, Mackinnon said under the new protocol it will be staff that solicits ideas and then prepares a report to the commissioners, who will then choose the name.

"This can lead to political interference and the naming of parks and public spaces after friends and allies of the particular board of the day with no recourse for the community," says Mackinnon. "The 2007 protocol was created to stop any hint of favoritism and to put the authority in the community."

Vision Vancouver vicechair Aaron Jasper says the power will still be in the hands of the public. He adds it was staff that suggested the change because today's process is too cumbersome.

"We're not returning to the good old days when sitting commissioners sat around the table naming parks after themselves," says Jasper. "This just offers a more balanced approach."

sthomas@vancourier.com Twitter: @sthomas10

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