19 September 2014

Better parks, together

Vancouver parks and recreation facilities have been neglected and need to be made a priority again. People and community groups have been marginalized. It’s time for change. That includes putting community centres back where they belong — at the centre of our neighbourhoods — by giving them the independence to make planning decisions that reflect community needs and values. We need to clearly define decision-making processes and roles to better include the community. Since parks have become the backyards for many people, they should be maintained to enhance and enliven their urban experience. When the Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board works together with the community, our neighbourhoods become more liveable. Our existing parklands are precious and limited. Adding or replacing parkland is expensive so working together is key in this time of growth. 


Your Vancouver Green Park Board candidates will work for: 


Community-driven planning  

Residents know what they want from their parks and recreation facilities. Community centre associations know best what their members want in programming. A stronger partnership between the Park Board and community organizations reflecting these values needs to be established. This can be achieved by:

• Including community groups in all decision making.
• Regarding community centre associations as partners, not adversaries.
• Working with community stakeholders, including community centre associations, to develop better programming as well as a fair and equitable recreation system.

Accessible, safe public spaces for everyone 

The need — and the desire — for more public spaces will continue to increase as Vancouver densifies. To ensure a healthy city, our citizens need great public spaces, so our priorities will be:

• Ensuring that changes to existing park space is supported by adjacent communities.
• Building public park spaces that meet the long-term needs of the area.
• Maintaining and enhancing parks and gardens with universal access.
• Expansion of park and recreational facilities that is proportional to population growth.
• Working with City Council to bring the amount of public spaces back to historical standards.
• Re-emphasizing community facilities vs. destination facilities. 

Strengthening stakeholder communication 

The Park Board must work with others to enhance our recreational experiences, and that means better communication with stakeholders to build better relationships. We will focus on:

• Participatory processes for determining priority funding for community facilities.
• Scheduled meetings with community groups to build communication channels.
• Working with Vancouver School Board to maximize fields and facilities.
• Partnering with sports and community organizations to prioritize field maintenance.

Maximizing facility usage with a stronger digital strategy 

The Park Board should be using new technologies to make easy access to all facilities available to everyone. Coordination of availability and bookings can be achieved by:

• Building an overall parks app that has the functionality of the current VanGolf app. Such an app will allow easy access to information; locate programming; and book facilities.
• Creating a network of connected facilities to increase information and data flow.
• Engaging park user database to provide feedback on community needs and decisions.

Green initiatives: zero waste, local food systems and access to nature 

The Park Board needs to become a leader in green initiatives in Vancouver. We can improve our Park Board practices to become both a role model and an educational model for the community by:

• Increasing education on waste diversion with a leading zero-waste program.
• Introducing more local products into our food supply streams for parks facilities.
• Introducing an animal-waste composting program for our local dog parks.
• Creating a “no net loss of green space” policy regarding changes to our city parks.
• Working on stream day-lighting and seek salmon-safe certification for all parks.

Parks that focus on natural features

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, and this can be achieved by:

• Preserving all green open space in a form as natural as possible for future generations.
• Creating policies to end the continuing erosion of parks by commercial enterprise.
• Increasing the planting of native species in all parks and public spaces.
• Using natural materials to build new children’s playgrounds.
• Working with urban planners to develop parks that need less maintenance.

Revitalized facility and park infrastructure 

For too long our recreational facilities have been neglected: neighbourhood outdoor pools have been closed; community centres have deteriorated due to poor upkeep; and too little money has been reinvested when there was no choice but to upgrade. Many community centres need to be replaced but no money has been allocated in the City’s Capital Plans. We can’t afford to lose what we have, so we will:

• Create a long-term budget and financing plan for continued facility maintenance.
• Ensure transparency on all expansions and upgrades to facilities.
• Work to maximize mixed use of facilities by partnering with non-profits and other civic organizations.
• Ensure long-term planning includes capital expenditures to replace aging community centre infrastructure.


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