20 July 2019

Vancouver Park Board offering free Swim to Survive classes

The drowning prevention program is open to kids aged 7 to 18

/ Vancouver Courier
July 19, 2019 

Vancouver Park Board is once again offering up free Swim to Survive classes during National Drowning Prevention Week.

The courses, which are a partnership between the Lifesaving Society and Vancouver Lifeguard Association, are free for children aged seven to 18. There are 240 spots available this year. Sessions are being offered at Kits pool from 3:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. on July 23 and at New Brighton pool on July 28 from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

“This is the fourth year that the park board has offered this program to the public. Last year, more than 500 youth and children took the free course,” board chair Stuart Mackinnon said in a press release. “Swim to Survive demonstrates our commitment to equip children with the skills to safely enjoy our pools and beaches.”

Swim to Survive is a Lifesaving Society program offered across Canada that provides basic training in three essential skills needed to survive an unexpected fall into deep water. It is not a replacement for swimming lessons, but an important step to being safe around water.

In Canada, drowning is the number one cause of unintentional injury deaths among children aged 1 to 4 years old, and the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10. Swim to Survive teaches water smart behaviours in time for young people to make better choices around water.

Visit vancouver.ca to register for Swim to Survive.

 © 2019 Vancouver Courier

10 July 2019

Vancouver to invest millions to build new playgrounds in several parks across the city

by Aria Nasimi on July 9th, 2019 Straight.com

At least seven parks across Vancouver will get new playgrounds.
They will be built in Ash, Beaconsfield, Cedar Cottage, Charleson, Jones, Kaslo, and Winona parks.
It came as a result of a park board vote last night to direct staff to negotiate and enter into contracts
In a media statement, the board said that construction of the new playgrounds, which cost a total of $4.5 million, is scheduled to start this summer or in early fall.

Vancouver park board chair Stuart Mackinnon said the seven new playgrounds will receive fun and challenging play equipment.

“There is much community support and enthusiasm for playground renewals and it’s an ongoing priority for the park board,” Mackinnon said in the statement. “Play equipment encourages children to be more active and builds social skills and sensory activity, helps with cognitive development, and encourages healthy emotional development.”

 Trampolines, pirate ships, hill slides, and spider-web nets are some of the equipment that the new playgrounds will have.

Seating areas and drinking fountains will also be available in the new playgrounds, the park board said.

According to the board, many of the current 160 playgrounds in parks across the city are reaching the end of their lifespan.

In 2015, the board made a priority of replacing the parks’ playgrounds. So far, 17 playgrounds have been renewed.

08 July 2019

City should 'step up' to find shelter for people in Oppenheimer Park: park board chair

Jul 7, 2019

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) — After a large homeless camp at Oppenheimer Park caused an annual festival to relocate, one park board commissioner wants more supports for the city’s most vulnerable.

Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon says the board has done what it can to help and it’s time for the city to “step up.” The board has installed 24-hour washrooms, ensured access to water, and made sure there are park rangers on site.

“The Park Board can’t find accommodation for these folks. We are asking the senior levels of government–the city, the province, and the federal government–to find more housing for people.

There are far too many homeless people in Canada and especially here in Vancouver and as a result they’re finding places like Oppenheimer park to make a home. This is really intolerable in a society as wealthy as Canada.”

There are more than 100 tents at the site.

Mackinnon says he has heard from residents of the area who are concerned about safety and accessibility.

“I understand people’s concern. Parks are supposed to be accessible for everyone and when people are forced to camp out in parks it can be not as open as other people would like,” he says. “I am just as concerned as others about safety. Both the safety of park users and of course the safety of the people who are camping in the park.”

Earlier this week, organizers of the Powell Street Festival announced that this year’s program would not include any events in the park. The festival is a celebration of Japanese Canadian arts. Japanese Canadians made up the majority ethnic group in the area around Powell Street from the 1890s until 1942, when the Canadian government forcibly removed the entire community.

“As a community that has experienced forced displacement, we refuse to continue this pattern of dispossession of vulnerable people in this area,” said Powell Street Festival Society president Edward Takayanagi in a release. “In respect for the current residents and the occupants of the park, they have designed their festival and program to ensure the people in the park are not displaced while providing a rich cultural experience for festival goers”

The festival similarly rearranged it’s programming In 2014, when there were about 200 tents housing homeless people in the park. Later that year, campers were forced out by court injunction.

(c) News 1130 CityNews

06 July 2019

Zero waste recycling stations expanding at Vancouver beaches

June 27 2019 – 
 The City, in partnership with the Vancouver Park Board, is expanding public area recycling by adding 20 new zero waste stations at park concessions throughout the city. The new stations support the City’s ongoing zero waste initiatives and public realm cleanliness.

The zero waste stations at the park concessions include at least one bin for recycling, organics, and landfill. The stations are colour-coded and have prominent signage to make it easy for users to properly sort their waste.

Concessions support the Single Use Reduction Strategy

City Engineering Services and the Park Board worked closely together to ensure that the majority of the food service packaging provided at the concessions could be composted or recycled in the program. Park Board-operated concessions have taken early steps to embrace the City’s Single Use Reduction Strategy.

Some of the initiatives undertaken at concession stands include:

  • Eliminating the distribution of plastic straws
  • Switching to lids with a sip portal
  • Switching to wooden cutlery
  • Using paper-based compostable food packaging
  • Offering 25 cent cup discounts to patrons who bring their own mug 

Reduce and recycle

An integral part of becoming a zero waste community is ensuring that we all have the opportunity to reduce or recycle materials both at home and while we are out enjoying our vibrant parks, beaches, streets, and communities.

As Canada Day and summer festival season kicks off, visitors to public spaces and events in the city are encouraged to make use of reusable items wherever possible and adopt the pack-in and pack-out approach to help us preserve these spaces and the environment as a whole.

Public area recycling programs are notoriously challenging to manage due to contamination. We are asking residents and visitors to do their part — when you see one of the new recycling stations, please take a moment to sort your items properly and help keep recyclables out of the landfill.

Learn more about the program, including the location of new zero waste stations

26 June 2019

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit against Park Board, signs new 35-year deal

The Vancouver Aquarium’s cetacean ban lawsuit against the City of Vancouver and its Park Board appears to be water under the bridge.

The aquarium’s parent organization, Ocean Wise, says it has signed a new 35-year licence agreement with the board and reaffirmed its commitment to no longer display whales and dolphins.

It also announced that “all legal action related to the Park Board’s May 2017 amendment to its bylaw restricting cetaceans in Vancouver parks has now been discontinued.”

The Park Board banned the keeping of whales and dolphins on its property shortly after the last two belugas residing at the facility died suddenly in 2016.

The Aquarium said in January 2018 that it would no longer display the animals, but won a court challenge a month later that found it was exempt from the board’s ban — only to have that overturned on appeal a year later.

In May this year, Ocean Wise launched a lawsuit against the city and the board claiming that the 2017 ban had resulted in millions of dollars of financial losses and was a breach of contract.

The federal government banned the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity earlier this month.

“We both have the idea of sustainability, in mind and working towards climate mitigation and biodiversity, and this new extension, or a new renewal of our agreement, puts it all on a positive foot that we can move in tandem for the future.”

The new deal essentially extends Ocean Wise’s existing agreement with the board, which was set to expire in 2029.

The new lease agreement comes at no cost to the Aquarium for the first five years, then starts at $175,000 in 2024 and climbs by $25,000 per year until it reaches $300,000 annually.

Asked why there was no public consultation on a lease agreement that extends three decades into the future, Mackinnon said the negotiations had to be conducted privately because of the pending litigation.

In a media release, Ocean Wise said the new licencing agreement sets the stage for the organization’s new five-year vision, which will be launched in January 2020.

That plan will focus on conservation, public education, governance and research, it said.

“The new licence agreement marks the start of an exciting, new chapter in Ocean Wise’s evolution and provides the foundation for our ambitious five-year strategic plan,” Ocean Wise president and CEO Lasse Gustavsson said in a media release.

“We appreciate the Park Board’s support for Ocean Wise’s evolution and are thrilled that the Vancouver Aquarium is staying in Stanley Park, which has been its home since 1956.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

25 June 2019

Ocean Wise and Vancouver Park Board sign new 35-year licence agreement

Ocean Wise announces new vision for conservation and public education


 "We look forward to a new future with Ocean Wise as leaders in raising awareness of the vital role of our oceans and sharing the importance of conservation with their visitors."  Stuart Mackinnon, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board


 June 25 2019 – 

Ocean Wise and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation are pleased to announce that a new licence agreement has been reached, which will allow the Vancouver Aquarium to remain in Stanley Park for the next 35 years.

“The new licence agreement marks the start of an exciting new chapter in Ocean Wise’s evolution and provides the foundation for our ambitious five-year strategic plan,” said Lasse Gustavsson, CEO and President of Ocean Wise. “We appreciate the Park Board’s support for Ocean Wise’s evolution and are thrilled that the Vancouver Aquarium is staying in Stanley Park, which has been its home since 1956.”

World-class visitor attraction 

 The Vancouver Aquarium has connected more than 45 million people from around the world to our oceans and all the wonders within them. It’s a world-class visitor attraction, home to thousands of incredible ocean species and aquatic life. It’s also a place that sparks awareness and inspires action to help protect our oceans.

“The Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park is a partner for the biodiversity and ecological issues we both champion,” said Stuart Mackinnon, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board. “We look forward to a new future with Ocean Wise as leaders in raising awareness of the vital role of our oceans and sharing the importance of conservation with their visitors.”

New five-year vision

 With the new licence agreement in place, Ocean Wise will launch its new five-year vision in January 2020 with a renewed focus on conservation, public education, governance, and enhancing the visitor experience. Ocean Wise will also continue to invest in research programs, which have contributed to global knowledge of marine wildlife and set apart the organization as a world-class institution.

“Ocean Wise aspires to become a global ocean conservation organization and wants to inspire people in every corner of the planet to participate in creating healthy oceans, but for most people the ocean is ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ ” said Gustavsson. “There are many threats to the ocean, but the greatest threat is that many believe someone else is going to save it. Ocean Wise has an important role to bring the ocean to the people and the people to the ocean, and the Vancouver Aquarium is one of the best tools we have to do that.”

No longer displaying cetaceans

In reaching this new agreement, Ocean Wise has confirmed its 2018 commitment to no longer display cetaceans in Stanley Park.

All legal action related to the Park Board’s May 2017 amendment to its bylaw restricting cetaceans in Vancouver parks has now been discontinued.

22 June 2019

'It's an emergency:' Vancouver park official alarmed by urban forest drought

Dave Demers wants to speed up plan to plant more drought tolerant species

Chad Pawson · CBC News · Posted: Jun 21, 2019

A Vancouver Park Board commissioner wants to accelerate plans to protect Vancouver's urban forest from drought.

Dave Demers, a landscaper who was elected in October as a Green Party representative, wants the city to do more to make sure that the varieties of trees it plants in parks and along streets can handle hotter, dryer and longer summers in the city.

'I think the situation is changing very fast and it's an emergency, we have to really speed up and double down on what we are already doing and not let go," he said. "The canopy, it's important, it's what makes the city livable and we cannot let that go." 

"To make sure ... in 10, 20 years, 30 years from now we have a canopy that's very resistant and healthy we really need to be careful what we plant and where," he said.

Vancouver is currently trying to increase the canopy of its urban forest, which is the amount of leaf cover over a city seen from the sky.

Urban forest benefits

The city had a 22 per cent canopy cover in 1995, but a combination of development, pests and even property owners bent on improving their views by cutting down mature trees caused that figure to decline to around 18 per cent.

The City of Vancouver is trying to plant 150,000 new trees across Vancouver in a 10-year span from 2010 to 2020 as part of its Urban Forest Strategy. There are more than 450,000 park and street trees combined in Vancouver, made up of around 500 different species. 

A healthy urban forest can help clean the air, slow climate change, ease strong winds, conserve rainwater, provide wildlife habitat and contribute to a sense of wellbeing for city residents.

 But Demers is worried that any gains will be snuffed out by the damage caused to trees, especially native ones such as Westernred cedars, as drought becomes more common. 

City foresters are already doing work to assess kind of trees will thrive in Vancouver's future forest. They not only have to contend with climate change, but also encroachment from construction and development.

They are working to figure out what species of trees, such as those from naturally warmer regions in Oregon or Washington, will be best to plant here. 

Demers wants that work to speed up. He says he's working on a motion to present in July that will strike a large committee to study the concept.

Demers also wants the Park Board to look for ways to ease stresses on the urban trees, such as putting in place other irrigation systems.

The City of Vancouver now uses more than 4,000 special water bags that are attached to trees to help give them steady water in the summer.  

Signs of weakened forests continue to pop up however. This week a teen was killed near Sooke on Vancouver Island after a tree toppled on him. Experts say dry conditions and wind can impact thestability of trees.

Meanwhile a mature catalpa tree fell in strong winds in Vancouver's West End this week, but the Park Board say the tree was otherwise healthy.

With files from Timothé Matte-Bergeron. (c) 2019 CBC News

20 June 2019

Temporary transfer station for green waste opens in False Creek

An action to help prevent the spread of Japanese beetle


June 17 2019 – 

As part of our efforts to eradicate the Japanese beetle, an invasive and destructive pest that feeds on the flowers, fruit and leaves of over 300 species of plants, a temporary transfer station has been opened in the False Creek area for homeowners and landscapers to drop off their green waste.

The Japanese beetle was first discovered in Vancouver’s False Creek area in 2017. It can significantly damage landscape and ornamental plants, fruit and vegetable gardens, nurseries, orchards, and agricultural crops. In response, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is restricting plant material and soil from being moved outside the regulated area which includes False Creek and Downtown, to help prevent the beetle from spreading.

Movement restrictions for above-ground plant materials are in effect June 15 to October 15.

Movement restrictions for soil or plants mixed with soil, including root balls and sod, are in effect year-round.

Residents and business owners in the regulated area should continue to use their green bin for their yard trimmings. However, any excess green waste should be brought to the temporary transfer station.

Landscapers who work in the regulated area and who have large quantities of green waste and/or soil to dispose of should only move this material outside the regulated area by obtaining a movement certificate from the CFIA by calling 604-292-5742 or emailing cfia.wstjb-sj.acia@canada.ca. Those in non-compliance of CFIA’s movement restrictions may be subject to fines.

Using the temporary transfer station

Location: 301 W 1st Ave
Open: June 17 to Oct 18
Hours: Monday to Friday, 2pm to 6pm

Accepted materials


Green waste and small amounts (one wheelbarrow limit) of plants mixed with soil, including root balls and sod, from within the regulated area.

Site users


Commercial landscapers and gardeners can drop off small (pickup truck) quantities. Larger quantities (more than one pickup truck) require a movement certificate from the CFIA by calling 604-292-5742 or emailing cfia.wstjb-sj.acia@canada.ca.

Homeowners should continue using their green bin first. However, any green material in excess of regular green bin quantities should be brought to the temporary transfer station. Food waste is not accepted.

Fees for services


Green waste:
  • $25 for half pickup truck load
  • $50 for pickup truck load even with the top of the box
  • $75 for pickup truck load that is heaped up over the top of the box
Plants mixed with soil, including root balls and sod, are $15 per load in small quantities only (one wheelbarrow limit)

Payment method


Payments can be made on-site using debit, MasterCard, or Visa. For commercial operators, monthly invoicing is available. A 15% administrative fee will be added to monthly invoices.

For verification and billing purposes, site users will be required to provide their name, name of company (if applicable), address, and contact details.

18 June 2019

Commissioner Dumont to forward motion aimed at eliminating gas and diesel powered generators from Vancouver parks

Published Jun 18, 2019 1:18 PM

VANCOUVER, B.C. – On Monday, June 24, 2019, Green Party Commissioner Camil Dumont will introduce a motion asking staff to develop a strategy to transition the Vancouver Parks and Recreation system to one that is free of gas and diesel powered generators. The transition plan will cover all Park Board operations as well as contracted partners and all others within the system.

“The Vancouver Park Board leads by example when it comes to sustainable practices in our city; but we can be better,” said Dumont.

“We can’t continue to maintain any baseline that acts as a driver of climate breakdown. Step-by-step we must ensure that true ecological sustainability is placed at the core of policy. We must identify where it is not and collaboratively transition to a paradigm where preserving a safe climate and maintaining ecological health are non-negotiable; and we must do so with urgency.

“Gas and diesel powered generators contribute to climate change, pollute our air, water, and soil and cause substantial noise pollution.

“This policy proposal is a significant shift from our current status quo. It is impactful and will require adjustment for many of the components of our system. It is also a transition we must make. We can’t continue with ‘business as usual’ on this file; we are in a climate emergency, we must accept that reality and act accordingly.” 

Gas and diesel generators are used extensively in Vancouver’s park system to power events, food trucks, festivals and more. Dumont’s motion asks staff to explore the provision of electrical infrastructure as one possible emission-free alternative. Green City Councillor Adriane Carr is working on a similar motion to transition Vancouver’s film industry off of gas and diesel powered generators.

More Information:
Motion: Gas and Diesel Generator Pollution Elimination Strategy

12 June 2019

Park Board approves strategy for improved non-motorized watercraft opportunities

June 11 2019

On Water Strategy

Our waterfront is a treasured asset and a key part of our identity – from the seawall to our beautiful beaches. The On Water Strategy, I hope, will encourage more people to explore non-motorized water sports & increase access to the water from the shore. Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon

The Vancouver Park Board has approved the On Water Strategy (15 MB), a document that will guide the planning and design of facilities and programs serving canoers, kayakers paddleboarders, and many other water recreation enthusiasts in Vancouver over the next 10 years.

The On Water, Vancouver’s Non-motorized Watercraft Recreation Strategy was approved by the Board at a meeting last night. Non-motorized water sport activities include canoeing, kite surfing, rowing, dragon boating, outrigging, windsurfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and small craft sailing.

The strategy includes quick start projects, including a user map that illustrates potential locations for different activities and abilities, as well as information about safety, facilities, and amenity locations.

Waterfront is treasured asset

The guide will be distributed online and at community centres and be updated every two years.

“Our waterfront is a treasured asset and a key part of our identity – from the seawall to our beautiful beaches. The On Water Strategy, I hope, will encourage more people to explore non-motorized water sports and increase access to the water from the shoreline,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

The strategy examines the waterway areas of False Creek, Spanish Banks, English Bay, and Burrard Inlet near Coal Harbour. The Fraser River was not included due to its heavy industrial use, strong currents, and the lack of facilities. Future updates to the strategy should consider expanding the scope to align with increased recreational activity expected along the Fraser River.

Comprehensive public engagement

The strategy was developed and supported through a comprehensive public engagement process, which began in summer 2017 and ran until early this year.

It describes the current state of non-motorized watercraft facilities and activities, and proposes strategies to deliver on five key directions (expand opportunities and participation, increase access to water, improve safety and access to information, protect the environment, and foster opportunities to build community) over the next decade to help bring Vancouver closer to a vision for high-quality, accessible non-motorized watercraft recreation.

Other quick start projects include identifying and providing watercraft launch areas at beaches and parks, delivering more learn-to-paddle programs, and replacing the Alder Bay Dock next to the False Creek Community Centre with a dock that is universally accessible. A concept plan was developed through a series of engagement events with the False Creek Community Association and CMHC Granville Island, user groups, and the public.

Next steps include hiring a structural marine engineer to produce detailed design drawings and specifications.

11 June 2019

Canada Bans Keeping Whales And Dolphins In Captivity

By Amy Held | NPR
Tuesday, June 11, 2019

 An orca surfaces near Vancouver Island, Canada. The country's Parliament has passed legislation banning the practice of breeding and holding dolphins, whales and porpoises in captivity.

VW Pics / Universal Images Group via Getty

Canada's Parliament has passed legislation banning whales, dolphins and porpoises from being bred or held in captivity, a move that was hailed by animal rights activists.Violations are punishable by fines of up to $200,000 (about $150,000 USD).

The bill contains some exceptions: Marine mammals already held will be allowed to remain in captivity. And the animals can be kept during rehabilitation from injury or for the purposes of licensed scientific research.

Animal rights activists, who have long argued that containing marine mammals and training them to entertain amounts to cruelty, celebrated the news, tweeting under the hashtags #EmptyTheTanks and #FreeWilly.

Former Sen. Wilfred Moore of Nova Scotia introduced the measure, known as the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, in 2015, said in a statement from Humane Society International/Canada that phasing out the animals' captivity was a "moral obligation."

Canada's Senate's passed the measure last year, and the House of Commons voted to approve it on Monday. The legislation now goes through a process known as royal assent before it can become law.

The CBC reports that the measure "notably impacts Marineland, the Niagara Falls [Ontario] amusement park and zoo that is considered the last Canadian park committed to keeping cetaceans in captivity."

Marineland has some 61 cetaceans: "55 beluga whales, five bottlenose dolphins and one orca, according to the CBC, citing data from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The park had initially opposed the ban, saying it would hurt attendance as well as conservation efforts. But in a statement Monday, Marineland said its operations have been evolving since its founding in the 1960s and that it would comply with the legislation.

The Vancouver Aquarium bowed to public opposition last year and said it would no longer keep dolphins and whales for display. At the time, it had one dolphin in captivity.

"The public told us they believed the continuing importation and display of these intelligent and sociable mammals was unethical and incompatible with evolving public opinion and we amended our bylaws accordingly," park board Chair Stuart Mackinnon said in a statement.

In the U.S., SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, which has SeaWorld parks in California, Florida and Texas, announced in 2016 that it would stop breeding captive killer whales and shift its focus to marine mammal rescue operations.

Three years earlier, the documentary Blackfish sparked a public outcry over the treatment of captive orcas. The film documented the killing of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by an orca named Tilikum in 2010.

Nearly 60 orcas are in captivity at parks and aquariums worldwide. "A third of the world's captive orcas are in the United States, and all but one of those live at SeaWorld's three parks in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio," National Geographic reports.

And while SeaWorld has shifted attention to other attractions, it has continued to put on dolphin shows, to the chagrin of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a longtime critic. The animal rights group maintains that such displays can harm the animals.

SeaWorld's vice president of animal health and welfare, Hendrik Nollens, recently defended the practice, saying the dolphins "are faster than us, they are stronger than us."

"They are in charge. They choose," Nollens said. "They decide whether to do the interaction or not."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit npr.org. Original article here.

20 May 2019

Vancouver Aquarium parent body sues City of Vancouver and park board, alleging millions in lost revenue

by Charlie Smith on May 18th, 2019

 The Ocean Wise Conservation Association has filed another legal action against two local governing bodies.

The parent organization of the Vancouver Aquarium has alleged breach of contract in a lawsuit naming the City of Vancouver and Vancouver park board as defendants.

Ocean Wise alleges that it has lost $4 million in annual revenues in each of the past two years as a result of the previous park board's 6-1 vote in 2017 to ban the display of cetaceans in captivity.

In its 2017 filings with Canada Revenue Agency, Ocean Wise reported $46,017,194 in revenues.

In its 2016 filings with Canada Revenue Agency, total revenues were slightly higher: $46,512,527. Ocean Wise's filings for the 2018 calendar year have not yet been posted on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

The revenue numbers from 2016 and 2017 include everything from gifts to government grants to amounts received from other charities.

It remains to be seen if the lawsuit could open the door for the city or park board to obtain information about any subsidiary companies that might be fully or partially owned by Ocean Wise.

It will be intriguing to see if lawyers for the city and park board try to determine whether current and former executives of the Vancouver Aquarium may have received compensation from those subsidiaries in addition to what they receive from the Vancouver aquarium.

Two of the commissioners who voted for the ban—Stuart Mackinnon and John Coupar—were reelected in 2018. A third, Casey Crawford, was defeated.

Two others, Michael Wiebe and Sarah Kirby-Yung, were elected to Vancouver city council in 2018. A sixth, Catherine Evans, lost her bid to be elected to city council.

The only commissioner to vote against the majority was Erin Shum, who was defeated in 2018 as an independent candidate for Vancouver city council.

The board passed this measure while the Vancouver Aquarium was in the midst of a $100-million expansion to its footprint in Stanley Park.

In its lawsuit, Ocean Wise has alleged that this has led to a 13 percent decline in attendance in each of the last two years.

None of the plaintiff's allegations have been proven in court. The city and the park board have not yet filed statements of defence.

Previous ruling upheld city and park board appeal

Earlier this year, a three-judge panel on the B.C. Court of Appeal unanimously ruled in favour of the City of Vancouver and Vancouver park board in another action filed by Ocean Wise.

In that case, the court upheld the park board's authority to regulate the display of cetaceans in Stanley Park, which overruled an earlier decision in B.C. Supreme Court.

Cetaceans include whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

Ocean Wise had argued that its licensing agreement with the park board precluded commissioners from imposing their will in this area.

In the new lawsuit, Ocean Wise alleges that its agreement with the park board allows for the display of cetaceans.

The B.C. Court of Appeal remitted the case back to B.C. Supreme Court to issue a ruling on three other grounds brought forward by the aquarium:
* the bylaw amendment "offended procedural fairness";
* the bylaw amendment should be voided for "vagueness";
* and that the bylaw amendment infringed on the aquarium's right to freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

After the B.C. Court of Appeal issued its ruling, Vancouver park board chair Stuart Mackinnon said in a media release that the amendment was "thoughtful and reflective of public opinion".

The aquarium's recently retired CEO, John Nightingale, announced in 2018 that the organization planned to phase out the display of whales and dolphins.

"The ongoing discussions about whales and dolphins in our care have been a distraction from real threats to the ocean and have sidelined the critical work we lead," he wrote on the organization’s website. "We aim to inspire people in every corner of the planet to participate in creating healthy oceans, and it’s time to get on with it."

That statement came after the deaths of several marine mammals at the aquarium over a three-year period.

The fatalities included a harbour porpoise named Jack, a dolphin named Hana following bowl surgery, a false killer whale named Chester, and beluga whales named Aurora and Qila.

(2019) The Georgia Straight

18 May 2019

Vancouver Park Board puts moratorium on hosting new commercial events

/ Vancouver Courier
May 16, 2019 

It will likely be a few years before Vancouver could see any new large-scale events coming to one of the city’s parks.

Vancouver Park Board this week voted to put a moratorium on introducing any new commercial initiatives until after the board has updated, and approved, its special events guidelines. Any existing events, and new events that are considered charitable or non-profit, will be allowed to continue. However, the park board will not consider any applications for new commercial events until after the guidelines, which were last updated and approved in 2003, are revamped.

That means that if events such as last year’s Skookum music festival and the Vancouver Mural Fest concert in Jonathan Rogers Park, Diner en Blanc and the annual Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon were proposed this year, the board would not entertain the application until after the guidelines are updated.

Octavio Silva, manager of business development, estimated updating the guidelines will take about 12 to 15 months to complete.

Paul Runnals, an owner of BrandLive, the event production company behind last year’s Skookum Festival in Stanley Park, among other events, spoke at Monday’s meeting and urged commissioners to continue to allow new commercial events while updating the guidelines.

“We support the need for an updated and balanced strategy towards the hosting of public and private events, which is respectful of the rich and historical importance of certain sites to the local First Nations, while still making space available for free and community events,” he said. “However, this strategy must also facilitate private events that support the meeting and convention sector, as well as commercial events that bring in significant cultural, economic, tourism and employment benefits to the city, to local businesses and to local residents.”

The park board issues approximately 1,300 event permits a year. Most of them, roughly 94 per cent, are recurring events that happen on an annual basis. The remaining six per cent are new initiatives and of those, 12 per cent were new commercial events last year — Skookum, the mural fest concert and Bacio Rosso Gourmet Cabaret Cirque in Queen Elizabeth Park.

Commercial events, with 15 taking place in parks in 2018, make up about one per cent of the total number of events that take place in parks annually. However, that one per cent brings in 44 per cent of the park board’s revenue generated from hosting events — $238,500 last year.

Without parks as possible venue options, many events would struggle to find a home in the city.
“One of the biggest challenges our industry faces is a lack of suitable venues to host events in and around the downtown peninsula,” Runnals said. “With the pace of development that has been ongoing through the Lower Mainland, a number of important event sites have been lost including… the Concord lands in northeast False Creek, while others have significant physical or other restrictions that limit their viability such as the north plaza of the art gallery and Jack Poole Plaza down at the convention centre.”

The motion passed in a 5-2 vote with NPA commissioners John Coupar and Tricia Barker in opposition. “We sometimes talk about corporate events as if they’re some sort of evil thing,” Coupar said, adding that many popular attractions in the city, such as Bloedel Conservatory, VanDusen Botanical Garden and the H.R. MacMillan planetarium, are the result of corporate philanthropy.

Barker said while she supports the idea of updating the guidelines, “I also don’t think that they are so broken that we can’t let another event come in… I think we are reasonable people and we can look at those events and make really good decisions on whether they’re appropriate in our parks or not.”

Green commissioner Camil Dumont voiced concern over the effect that events can have on parks.
“There are parks in our system that are really stressed in regard to how much event activity takes place in them,” he said. “I think particularly of VanDusen garden and, I think, the botanical and horticultural priorities of that space are compromised, in my view, by the amount of events there.”

Board chair Stuart Mackinnon supported the motion, saying it allows the park board to maintain any current events.

“None of those will go away. It simply says that we’re going to hit the pause button, which I think is a really good idea…” he said. “This is my third term on the park board and, as a group, we rarely say no to corporate events and I want to make sure that we know why we’re making those decisions, what the ramifications are going to be in the future and that we have the public behind us when we make those decisions.”

Coupar said he is concerned a 12 to 15month pause could take longer than anticipated.
“Things always take longer than we expect at the park board,” he said. “That’s a given. It’s not because our staff aren’t working hard, it’s because they have a lot of things to deal with, so 18 months can become two years, two years can become two and a half years.”


15 May 2019

Otter's long departure means koi can return to Vancouver Chinese garden

The Canadian Press
May 9, 2019 

VANCOUVER — Koi are safe to swim again in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver that was once a hunting ground for an elusive otter.

Three adults and 344 juvenile ornamental koi were removed from the pond and kept at the Vancouver Aquarium last November after the otter began feasting on the expensive koi.

It even killed a 50-year-old fish named Madonna, before it disappeared again, despite numerous attempts by staff to trap the animal.

The koi that were removed were returned to the pond on Thursday, along with two other adults that had been donated.

Vancouver Park Board chairman Stuart Mackinnon says the fate of the koi generated concern locally and internationally and he's pleased to see the fish back in their home.

Mackinnon says the garden staff have added steel plates to the park gates, deterring any other otters from getting inside.

The garden closed for a week during the height of the otter's destruction and the saga set off a storm on social media among those rooting for and against the otter.

Koi embody positive connotations for many Asian cultures, from good luck to abundance and perseverance, and a statement from the garden says the fish are often an important and symbolic part of classical Chinese gardens.

 © 2019 Vancouver Courier

26 April 2019

Watch great blue herons defend nests from eagle attacks with Vancouver park board's Heron Cam

by Martin Dunphy on April 25th, 2019 The Georgia Straight

For the fifth year, the Vancouver park board has made a high-definition camera feed available to the public to peek into the nests of one of North America's largest urban great blue heron colonies.

The great blue heron is our continent's largest (up to more than one metre tall) wading bird, and our local subspecies, the Pacific great blue heron, has been returning to the large breeding colony behind the park board offices in Stanley Park (2099 Beach Avenue) for 19 years.

The local variant has been deemed a species at risk in Canada.

Records show that the herons have been nesting in the park for about a century, at least since the early 1920s, and an earlier colony's large twig-and-branch nests, now abandoned, once occupied trees near the Vancouver Aquarium and the former park zoo. Theories for abandonment range from construction noise to bald-eagle predation of eggs and chicks.

The herons also constructed nests near Brockton Point and Beaver Lake, according to a City of Vancouver online history of the park colony.

In its 2018 Stanley Park Heronry Report, the Stanley Park Ecology Society reported that volunteers counted 104 tree nests in the colony area (which stretches from behind the park-board headqurters to the tennis-courts surroundings), with 85 of those nests deemed active. (Go here to download a PDF of the report at the bottom of the page, as well as to access instructions on how to manipulate the Heron Cam remotely.)

Society observers reported "daily eagle attacks" early in the 2018 nesting season, which starts at about the middle of March. The raids stopped after about a month, only to resume when the chicks had hatched. Only two active eagle nests were observed in the park last year.
A March 20 park-board release noted that more than 180,000 people have used the Heron Cam since its launch 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,” Stuart Mackinnon, park-board chair, said in the release. “Heron Cam 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.”

This year, according to the release, herons returned to the nesting area on March 11. As well, it notes: "One-third of Great Blue Herons worldwide live around the Salish Sea and the Stanley Park colony is a vital part of the [B.C.] south coast heron population."

Stanley Park Ecology Society representatives will answer questions during a live Facebook Q&A hosted by the board (date to come), and society volunteers will host on-the-ground weekly interpretive sessions in the park for visitors. The society also conducts an "adopt a nest" fundraiser to support its work with the herons.

The annual nesting season ends in August, when most chicks will have left the nests. About 100 fledglings were counted in 2018, which was an increase in numbers from the previous year.
You can view a detailed society timeline of the herons' arrival, breeding, and nesting here.

(c) 2019 Straight.com

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.