26 April 2022

PARK BOARD CHAIR MACKINNON JOINS VISION TEAM

April 25, 2022

Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Chair Stuart Mackinnon today announced that he has joined Vision Vancouver and will be seeking a council nomination under the party’s banner.

“I love our city and care deeply about the people and neighbourhoods who are all working together to make life better. It’s time they had a council that was working with them,” said Mackinnon. “Vision Vancouver has a strong track record and experience moving quickly and responsibly on the issues that matter in our city. As a part of the Vision team, I know we can build a stronger, more compassionate city.”

A former Green Party member, and three-term park board commissioner, Mackinnon’s announcement comes on the heels of former COPE park board commissioner John Irwin’s news that he has also joined the Vision Vancouver team. Mackinnon will sit as a Vision Vancouver park board commissioner until the end of his term.

“Vision Vancouver has a proud record of action on climate, housing, active transportation, reconciliation, public space, child care and so many other issues. Our hallmark for a decade on Council was courageous leadership that worked hard to bring the diverse views of the progressive community together in Vancouver. It’s never been more needed and that’s why more people are coming over every day,” said former Vision Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer. “With Stuart and a diverse team of candidates for nomination, we can ensure that people’s priorities are represented, and real action is taken, at all levels of our city government.”

“As the cost-of-living climbs, people are feeling even more squeezed than before, and the pandemic has only made things worse,” said Mackinnon. “With a strong team of Vision Vancouver councillors who share the same priorities as our neighbours, we can start making progress again on building more affordable housing, expanding public transit, protecting our parks and advancing reconciliation.”

In addition to his role as park board Chair, Mackinnon is a former educator at Killarney Secondary School, a current Vancouver Public Library Trustee and board member of many non-profit organizations including Axis Theatre, the Wilderness Committee and the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association. Stuart lives in Vancouver’s Fraserlands neighbourhood.

Contact: Ange Valentini

 ange.valentini@votevision.ca

25 January 2022

Co-Management of Vancouver Parklands with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations

Last night, in a 5-2 vote, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation voted to "to explore opportunities with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations (“the three Nations”) for co-management of parklands within their own respective territories that are currently under Park Board jurisdiction per the Vancouver Charter". 

These are my introductory remarks upon moving the motion:


At the start of each of our meetings, in the spirit of reconciliation, we make a land acknowledgment. This is an important statement recognizing where we are. But reconciliation has to be more than just words. There must be action as well as words. In her book ‘Indian in the Cabinet: Speaking truth to power’ the Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould reminds us that “Words, in the work of reconciliation, are also cheap without real action—action that goes to the core of undoing the colonial laws, policies, and practices, and that is based on the real meaning of reconciliation” (176)

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is, I believe at the forefront of this work, and I want to thank the entire Decolonization, Arts and Culture team for the incredible work they are doing. I want to thank all of our staff for embracing reconciliation as a foundational principle.

The spirit of this motion is for the Park Board to again put reconciliation into action. The motion calls for the Park Board to initiate a conversation with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations on ways for them to work with the Park Board on managing parklands within their respective territories that fall under our jurisdiction. 

This motion seeks to move closer to reconciliation with past decisions that impact our city today. Many of our parks and beaches are on land that has been integral to the First Peoples of this area for millennia. Villages, camps, food gathering sites, and burial sites are situated on the land we manage and have jurisdiction over. This motion seeks to recognize this fact.

The motion asks staff to explore with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations and report back on recommendations for co-management of parklands within their own respective territories that are currently under Park Board jurisdiction per the Vancouver Charter. The motion calls on our staff, including our legal staff, to work with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations to define what co-management means in the context of Vancouver parklands and once that definition is agreed upon to then develop a plan for co-management. 

The motion does not have any pre-determined outcomes, nor does it set out how the process will unfold. It asks our staff to work with the Nations to create this process and then develop how this idea can be fulfilled. 

In 2018, when the Park Board approved the Colonial Audit, Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation stated, “First Nations can be more involved in decision-making, economic opportunities, and environmental stewardship”. This motion seeks to recognize this and act upon it.

Stewardship of our parklands is of ever-increasing importance as we become a denser city and parks and greenspaces become more important to the residents. The First Peoples have been stewards of this land since time immemorial and we newcomers have much to learn. We must seek traditional knowledge, as well as new knowledge, as we tend to these precious spaces. 

Jody Wilson-Raybould also states “to address the legacy of colonialism in this country, the colonizers are going to need to learn a lot from those they sought to colonize. Not just to confront their own actions, ignorance, and systemic racism, but to actually make Canadian institutions and modes of governing better by learning the values, principles, and practices that uphold Indigenous governments and societies…” (265)

This motion seeks to be another step in that direction. By acknowledging the land, and by recognizing that colonial ways of doing things are not the only ways of doing things; by seeking help from the indigenous people of this land and working with them, we can have better parks in Vancouver. We can have parks that recognize the natural history and the human history, and prepare our public spaces for a future where all are welcome and that will last millennia to come.


23 January 2022

Time is well past due to address climate change, for our own sake

Recent events only confirm the environmental threat's real

Vancouver Sun 22 Jan 2022

Stuart Mackinnon says

The recent storms have shown how vulnerable Vancouver's coastal infrastructure is.

The seawall around Stanley Park sustained major damage. Our beaches, coastal parks and pathways were inundated with water and aquatic debris. Piers were torn up, logs tossed about on beaches and damage caused to our waterfront access. This, on top of the earlier damage from the atmospheric river event that pushed a barge so far onto Sunset Beach that the owners and federal government are still unsure of how they're going to remove it.

These events have a lot of people talking. Some of that talk has been irresponsible speculation, some has been hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing apocalyptic chatter and some has questioned the benefits of maintaining a fortress-like wall around the city.

What we need is less self-righteous indignation and more co-operation to support our park board workers as they navigate the difficult tasks involved in fully reopening the parks. This includes staying off the seawall while repairs are done.

The seawall is a much-loved amenity — loved by residents and visitors alike. Our staff will be working to clear the debris, analyze the damage and seek the quickest and most cost-efficient ways to safely repair and reopen it.

However, we as a city need to think about how these changing climate events are impacting our infrastructure. If, as many believe, these aren't anomalous events, but in fact a new normal, then we need to be planning for infrastructure that can withstand these events.

Projections for sea level rise vary widely. However, after the year 2050, it's projected to rise from 60 centimetres over current levels to more than six metres over current levels by

We can no longer afford the luxury of putting off climate mitigation. We must find ways to both allay the dangers coming and work together to reduce our ecological footprint.

2100. The province of B.C. currently recommends using half a metre for planning to 2050, one metre to 2100 and two metres to 2200. Unfortunately, historic sea-level rise can't be used to predict future increases given the increasing pace of climate change.

To protect vulnerable areas, the City of Vancouver estimates it will need to invest $1 billion in flood management infrastructure alone by 2100. With climate change and sea-level rise, simply building back to current standards won't be enough.

We need to rethink which amenities are both cost-effective and desired. Every decision we make has a cost attached to it. The park board, like other public and private entities, must now include climate change in those costs — both to build and to maintain infrastructure. And not just new projects; we must re-examine all of our current infrastructure through the lens of climate change and mitigation. We must not only build new and better, but also sustain what we already have.

As we look ahead, this is an excellent chance to work in partnership with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh Peoples, who have lived on these lands since time immemorial, to learn about these iconic places and their experience working with the land and sea. Their knowledge will be imperative so that we don't repeat mistakes we may have made in the past.

Vancouver isn't unique in this situation. Coastal cities around the world are faced with the same dilemmas. Whole nations face being swamped by ever-rising oceans. We can no longer afford the luxury of putting off climate mitigation. We must find ways to both allay the dangers coming and work together to reduce our ecological footprint that is driving climate change.

Pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth is neither useful, nor productive. It's time to work together for the benefit of all.


Stuart Mackinnon is a Green party commissioner and chair of the Vancouver park board.

25 October 2021

Does Vancouver need a Park Police Force?

 At the last meeting of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, staff presented a report entitled “Park Ranger Service Model - Phase 1 Report Back”. This report recommended increased budget for the Park Rangers program and to ‘Create new positions with Peace Officer status to provide enhanced by-law enforcement support’. 

The Ranger program began in 2000 as the front-line ambassadors in parks and public spaces. They support a broad range of events and activities, and assist with issues such as:

Providing visitor information and wayfinding

Educating the public about park regulations such as the smoking, dogs on leash, and cycling                     bylaws

Enforcing the Park Board By-laws

Supporting permitted events and filming

Working with Vancouver Police, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service, BC Ambulance, and other             departments and agencies on issues found in parks

Dealing with homelessness as it impacts parks, and connecting individuals with support services

Responding to park concerns reported through 3-1-1 and VanConnect services

Park Rangers patrol parks and beaches throughout Vancouver. A seasonal ranger station is located         at Second Beach, next to the concession.

However, Park Rangers are not police and Park Board acknowledges that the public should call 9-1-1 if there is an emergency that requires police, fire, or ambulance.

With an increase of more than 1,153% of cases from 2015 (1,909 cases) to 2020 (22,010 cases) there is definitely a need to increase the number of Rangers. Social issue related cases such as mental health, drug addiction, and temporary structures in parks, rose by 40% in 2020, and are forecast to continue rising during 2021.

 The call for enhanced powers is because the Vancouver Police do not regularly attend to Park by-law infractions unless they are called by the Rangers, and then generally only if there is a special need for them to be there. Excessive noise, camping, feeding wildlife, or smoking in parks are not usually deemed important enough for attendance.

The recommendation to create new Peace Officer positions would see some Rangers elevated to the level of Police Constable. Police Constables are police officers. They have all of the same rights and responsibilities of a police officer. What was not known was whether that would mean they could carry handcuffs, batons, or even a fire arm, or if they would have the right of holding and arresting individuals, and using force to do so.

The Commissioners unanimously approved an increase of 1.8 million dollars to hire more Rangers, but by a 5-2 vote amended the recommendation to explore the creation of new positions with ‘enhanced bylaw enforcement authority’ as part of the regular full-time workforce, rather than to move immediately to creating Peace Officers. I was one of those who supported the amendment. 

I understand the need for our Park Rangers to be able to enforce park by-laws but I am not sure that elevating them to police constables is necessarily the right move. I want to ensure that we make the right changes, and so need to know what the options are. 

In Vancouver we already have the RCMP, the Vancouver Police Department, and the Transit Police. Do we need another police force? Could Park Rangers enforce our by-laws without being Peace Officers/Constables? Could they be trained as ‘Special Constables’ with very specific authority?

Before we move to another level of policing, I need to know what the cost of training would be. I need to know what the cost in equipment, wages, and professional development would be. I want to know what the alternatives are. Do we need to change provincial legislation or could the creation of ‘Special Park Constables’ with limited powers be done under current regulations? What do the local police feel about another layer of policing within their jurisdiction? What does the Indigenous community think? What does the BIPOC community think? What do queer, trans, and Two-Spirit folks think? What do marginalized communities think?

It would be easy to say yes let’s create a Park Police to enforce our bylaws; it would be irresponsible to do so without knowing the costs and consequences of such a decision.


06 October 2021

Park Board approves planning of creek through Spanish Banks parking lot and dog park

 Kenneth Chan, Daily Hive

|Oct 5 2021, 1:43 pm



Planning for the daylighting of Canyon Creek at Spanish Banks Beach Park will advance, following a unanimous decision by Vancouver Park Board commissioners on Monday evening.

Canyon Creek, which is fed by a large catchment area within Pacific Spirit Regional Park, currently runs through a culvert under Northwest Marine Drive, the Spanish Banks West Parking lot, and the park’s dog off-leash area, before entering Burrard Inlet.

Based on Park Board’s staff preliminary planning work since late 2020, this project would establish a watercourse at ground level with a naturalized and vegetated area, creating a new habitat for bird, aquatic, and pollinator species. It would also serve to improve the water quality entering Burrard Inlet.

To achieve the daylighting of the creek north of Northwest Marine Drive, it is currently estimated that about 35 out of a total of 266 existing vehicle parking stalls would need to be removed.



It would also bisect the park’s off-leash dog area — the third-largest in the city with a total open area of 12.45 acres. About half an acre of this off-leash dog park area would be removed to accommodate the naturalized riparian habitat, which would need to be fenced off to prevent dogs from disturbing any wildlife.

East-west pathways at the park would also be reconfigured. Currently, both the pedestrian and cycling pathways run along the northern edge of the park. Improvements would be made by fully dedicating the existing pedestrian pathway and building a new separated pathway north of the parking lots for cyclists. Two bridges would be constructed over the daylighted creek for the pathways.

“This is a very exciting project, certainly exciting for me, who has been working on daylighting creeks for more than 20 years here in the city. Any chance we have to daylight a creek is a good day,” said Green Party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon.

“The report talks about increasing biodiversity, naturalization of the area, and connectivity of waterways. These are things that we ought to be doing more of. I know it’s very expensive to do these things within the city, but we did it in a brilliant way for Renfrew Ravine, Still Creek, and other areas.”

Green Party commissioner Dave Demers added: “It’s a very exciting project. It’s one that captures the imagination of the general public. We see that with every daylight project that is out there.”

Staff with the Park Board will now take the next steps of consulting with local First Nations and pursuing a nominal rent tenure — $1.00 for the entire term — from the provincial government, given that the proposed project area sits on untenured crown land.

The Park Board, under the City of Vancouver, has a 99-year lease from the provincial government for the area that is used as a beach park. The lease expires in January 2029, and negotiations would be required for a renewal of the lease. The proposed daylighting project would be undertaken only within the city’s lease area.

Mackinnon says he wants any land that is leased from the municipal government passed to the Park Board as a permanent park.

The Park Board anticipates it will receive the required provincial approvals by late 2022. This will trigger detailed design and public consultation in 2023, with Park Board commissioners potentially reviewing the project late that year for final approval. If the project proceeds, it would be covered under the 2023-2026 capital plan, which also necessitates approval by Vancouver City Council.

Further east in Kitsilano, the Park Board has plans to daylight the historical creek that once flowed through Tatlow Park and Volunteer Park, just east of Macdonald Street.

30 April 2021

More than 180 people moved from Strathcona Park into accommodation by GM Order deadline

 April 30 2021

The encampment in Strathcona Park has come to a close with the vast majority of people who had been sleeping overnight in the park having moved into safe and secure accommodation.

The movement of people from the park follows a General Manager’s Order that was issued by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation on April 9. The order stated that all existing tents, temporary shelters and structures must be removed from Strathcona Park by 10 am today.

Over the past three weeks, BC Housing and the City of Vancouver have moved 184 people into accommodation, with many people moving into private rooms with their own washroom. A small number of tents and temporary shelters remain in the park, and we are continuing to work with the remaining people on other options. 

The entire eastside of the park will now be fenced off and staff from the City and Park Board will clean and remediate the park. The west side of the park remains open for public use. The warming tent and hygiene facilities that were installed in the park in January will be shut down today and removed in the coming days.

In March, the Park Board and the City signed a memorandum of understanding with the Province formalizing the joint commitment to take a coordinated approach in supporting unsheltered residents. As part of this commitment, the Province will continue to provide indoor options for unsheltered residents and Park Board staff will be monitoring parks across Vancouver to prevent the creation of new encampments.

28 April 2021

Parks Board creating meadows in parks and boulevards throughout city

 April 27 2021 

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is piloting 37 hectares of naturalized and wildflower meadows in parks, golf courses, and boulevards throughout Vancouver this year.

The move is part of the Board approved VanPlay Parks and Recreation Services Master Plan which calls for more naturally managed landscapes in parks. This work is additionally supported by the March 10, 2021 Board motion directing staff to establish incremental targets to defer or alter mowing regimes on appropriate turf surfaces.

Meadow locations

Naturalized and wildflower meadows will be created at 18 parks, including Memorial West, China Creek North, East, Falaise, Killarney, Memorial South, Oak Meadows, Queen Elizabeth, and West Memorial Park, as well as Fraserview, Langara, and McCleery golf courses, and boulevards throughout the city.

Signs will be posted at the meadows to make people aware of the initiative and to encourage exploration via pathways and perimeter trails. 

Benefits of meadows

Creating meadows in urban settings for the provision of native or naturalised grasses, wildflowers and flowering plants will attract beneficial insects, butterflies, bees, and birds. In addition, wildflowers add a changing palate of colour to the urban environment throughout the seasons.

Other benefits include improving soil microbes conditions for trees and creating landscapes that are more resilient to changing climate, as well as lower carbon dioxide emissions due to reduced mowing.

Anyone can get involved in supporting pollinators. Get details on how to get involved and a list of plants that pollinators love are available.

Mitigating the impacts of climate change

The Park Board is committed to increasing urban livability, restoring ecological function, and mitigating the impacts of climate change. With climate change as one of the biggest current global challenges, increasing the number of meadows will directly support the City’s Climate Emergency Action Plan, as well as the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

Increasing the number of meadows in Vancouver also supports the:

Bird Strategy

Urban Forest Strategy

Biodiversity Strategy

VanPlay

Green Operations 

Staff will report back to the Park Board with a summary of data, outcomes, and observations from the meadows’ pilot.


Quotes

Park Board Commissioner Dave Demers

“A recent report provides evidence that intense lawn management practices are responsible for increasing pests and diminishing abundance and diversity of invertebrates and flora, which provide critical nesting habitat and food sources for birds,” said Commissioner Dave Demers, who introduced the motion.


Paula Cruise, Hives for Humanity Garden Manager

“As urban beekeeping increases in popularity, it is critical for bee health to ensure that there is adequate forage within our city. The decision by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to increase meadows will add greatly to both the abundance and diversity of flowers that provide pollen and nectar for all bees, including our native bees that often have unique forage relationships with particular plant species. The proximity of flower meadows to the city will also connect the urban population with nature, enhancing our understanding of bee conservation and the actions we can all take to provide forage and habitat for pollinators,” said Paula Cruise, Hives for Humanity Garden Manager.


original posting here

23 April 2021

City Council ratifies collective agreement with CUPE Local 1004

 April 20 2021 

Vancouver City Council has ratified the terms of a new collective agreement covering outside workers represented by CUPE Local 1004. Union members voted to accept the settlement last week. 

 The new collective agreement covers 1,650 employees who perform outside labour and trades work in Engineering Services, Vancouver Park Board, and Mountain View Cemetery. The term is three years, beginning January 1, 2020 and expiring December 31, 2022.  

Impacts from COVID-19

Bargaining for this renewal began in September of 2019 and was suspended for a significant period of time while the City focused on its COVID-19 response and adapting to the financial impacts of the pandemic. Measures implemented by the City included an unpaid furlough program for all non-union staff and the temporary layoff of nearly 1,700 unionized employees across the City, the Park Board, and at the Vancouver Public Library.

Wage increases over three years

The settlement provides for wage increases totalling six per cent over the three years of the contract (2% on October 1, 2020; 2% on January 1, 2021; 2% on January 1, 2022).

“This was a long, complicated round of bargaining,” said Paul Mochrie, City Manager. “The pandemic fundamentally altered the financial position of the City and we needed to understand that impact, account for it, and work with CUPE 1004 to find an outcome that would be mutually acceptable.”

Bargaining continues with unions representing the balance of the City’s workforce, including inside workers and firefighters.


Original post here

14 April 2021

Vancouver Park Board General Manager issues new order restricting tents in Strathcona Park

 April 9 2021 – Today, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation issued a new General Manager’s Order stating that all existing tents, temporary shelters, and structures must be removed from Strathcona Park by 10am on Friday, April 30, 2021.

On February 10, 2021, a General Manager’s Order was issued which restricted setting up temporary shelters on the west side of Strathcona Park. That order was extended to the northeast corner of the park on March 30.

The General Manager Order falls under the authority granted through the Parks Control By-law, and is a necessary next step to close the encampment in the park and return the park to community use.

Supporting residents experiencing homelessness

The City of Vancouver and BC Housing continue to take collective action to move everyone who is sleeping overnight in the park into warm, safe accommodation. In the coming weeks, new locations across Vancouver will be activated, opens in new tab to support people who are experiencing homelessness both in the park and across the city.

The aim is to resume normal park operations, including recreational activities and other community programs, as quickly as possible. Once people have moved from the park into accommodation, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation staff will erect a fence barrier to temporarily close off the area, assess the condition of the park, and develop a remediation plan.

07 April 2021

Green Party of Vancouver welcomes Memorandum of Understanding regarding Strathcona encampment

 MEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

7 April 2021

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The Green Party of Vancouver welcomes the announcement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Park Board, city, and province to secure accommodation for people currently living in and around Strathcona Park by April 30, 2021. As part of the MOU, the Park Board will lead on managing Strathcona Park as the encampment is dismantled, in coordination with partners.

A year and a half ago then-Chair Stuart Mackinnon, speaking on behalf of the majority of the Park Board, asked for a coordinated effort to end homelessness in Vancouver. “Seeking a multi-jurisdictional approach is the only way to address this issue,” said Commissioner Mackinnon. “We are pleased to see that this approach has been adopted and has resulted in new solutions. It is this kind of cooperation between province, city, and Park Board that begins to seek a better way ahead. We understand the tremendous toll has had on the neighbourhood. We heard you and continued to work toward a positive outcome for everyone involved. We look forward to working with everyone in restoring and improving Strathcona park for all.”

Current Park Board Chair Camil Dumont celebrated the announcement, recognizing the need for all levels of government to take responsibility for the systemic failures that have led to encampments. “We are in the middle of multiple crises -- mental health, housing, drug poisoning and COVID-19. The easy road would have been to displace these people, as previous levels of government have, to continue the cycle of band-aid solutions, or no solutions, as opposed to addressing the systemic issues that have led us to this situation. We decided at the Park Board that we would hold our ground and seek greater action, progress and true resolutions in partnership with the city and the province. I’m hopeful we are in a new place with this now.”

Councillor Pete Fry, who lives near the park, also welcomed the announcement. “This is a historic three-way memorandum of understanding with the province, Park Board, and city to ensure strategies to shelter folk who need it, mitigate homelessness, and prevent future encampments.”

“My Green colleagues in particular know and appreciate how difficult this has been for the neighbourhood, but they also recognized that a legal enforcement order wouldn't have been possible absent housing, and clearing a large tent city needs to be done thoughtfully and purposefully,” continued Fry.

-30-

Media contact

Anthony Hughes, Chairperson

(778) 829-4403 | anthony.hughes@vangreens.ca 

Background

Agreement signed to end encampments in Vancouver