27 December 2008

Snow Dogs

It was wonderful to watch the dogs in my neighbourhood frolicking in the fresh snow. They really were like 3 year olds in their joy. I think we adults can learn a lot about snow from children and dogs. They enjoy snow for the pleasure it gives. Never mind about the roads and the buses, they simply enjoy it for the fun.

One nasty drawback though is the thoughtlessness of some dog owners who think that because of the snow they don't have to pick up after their dogs. Today while walking through the melt I noticed an awful lot of dog feces melting along with the snow. A responsible pet owner picks up no matter what the weather. A few selfish individuals taints the whole dog owning public. Please pick up after your dog, it is the neighbourly thing to do--not to mention the law.

21 December 2008

Being careful what you ask for...

After one of our information sessions with staff I happened to ask if anyone could tell me which was the smallest park in Vancouver. I had had a discussion with a friend about this and thought one of the managers might have that information. It was asked in passing and when no one knew I didn't think about again until I received an e-mail, a week later, from a senior manager listing the ten smallest parks in the city complete with a photograph of the smallest! I wasn't expecting such an in-depth answer--or really even an answer at all. It made me realize how hard the staff works to keep the elected folks happy and current. Another question I asked, also in passing, was also answered completely and professionally. I'll have to remember not to ask questions in passing unless I really need to know the answer as I don't want to take up the staff's time unnecessarily.

Oh, and the smallest park? Quesnel mini-park at Quesnel Dr. and Mackenzie st.

03 December 2008

The Hopes and Fears

The inaugural meeting of the new Park Board was held on Monday night. It was an emotional meeting for many in the room. For the out-going Commissioners it was their last time around the table. For Allan DeGenova that meant the last time after 15 years of service. For the new Board it meant that five new Commissioners were sworn in to join the two who had been re-elected. The ceremony was brief but poignant. It is an awesome task to be elected to public office. The Park Board may be the 'junior' arm of civic government but it nonetheless is a decision making body with fiduciary responsibilities.

I have worked for the past 10 years to improve the parks and recreation system in Vancouver and to protect our green and public spaces. I have many ideas and plans and a few dreams too for the next three years. Many people have supported me and contributed to my election. I owe them a debt of gratitude and the assurance that I will continue to work for the same ideals I have been advocating over the years. Being on the inside will be a very different experience though, with different responsibilities and a much wider constituency.

I thought it was apt that the inaugural meeting is held in December at the beginning of the Christian Advent season. I am reminded of the traditional hymn 'O Little Town of Bethlehem'. One of the lines goes 'the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight'. I certainly felt a little of that on Monday night.

19 November 2008

And the lobbying begins...

E-day +4 and already the e-mails and phone calls have started. I don't actually assume my role as a Park Commissioner until the 1st of December, but the lobbying has begun. Some of it has been cheerful and polite, some down right strange. The Pool at Mount Pleasant tops the list of inquiries/advice followed by dogs and the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park. A defeated candidate for Parks is even telling me how I should vote when it comes to choosing a Chair for the Park Board.

I enjoy receiving the e-mails and phone calls and hope they keep coming. I want to be known as the 'go-to' guy on the Board. I want people to feel that they can approach elected leaders with ideas and inquiries. I just hope people understand that I can't always reply immediately and cannot make all their wishes come true. It is going to be a busy 3 years. I'm looking forward to it.

16 November 2008

Better Parks are coming to Vancouver

Thank you Vancouver for electing me to the Board of Parks and Recreation. An awesome responsibility that I accept with humility and gratitude. Vancouver's natural beauty is worth protecting. Neighbourhood services are worth preserving. And you agreed.

Last night was exciting for many reasons. We saw the advent of a new way of thinking in city government. Gregor Robertson has made promises of real change in the way business is done. I am excited to be part of this process--to be part of the solution. We have a lot of work to do. It is now time to roll up our sleeves and dig in!

Thank you to my wonderful friends and my amazing Dragon Boat teammates from Gung Haggis Fat Choy for believing in my dream of better parks and working toward that goal. I also want to thank the many people who offered encouragement and sage advice along the way--please keep in touch!

Last night showed what can be accomplished when progressive voices work in unison to create positive change. Let's keep this momentum going.

15 November 2008

Why haven't the NPA talked about last year's civic strike? Even while it was happening they ignored it!

by Todd Wong Gung Haggis Fat Choy

"The NPA will not talk about the strike. They refuse to talk about the issues we believe are important to Vancouverites," said Andrea Reimer at last night's general meeting for Vancouver Library Workers CUPE 391.

Andrea Reimer - Vision Vancouver council candidate, Loretta Woodcock - COPE incumbent parks commissioner, and Stuart Mackinnon - Green Party parks board candidate, all were special guests addressing civic issues for the Nov. 15th Vancouver civic election.

"The civic strike affected our parks, our community centres, our libraries. It is an important issue. But the NPA have not been addressing it." said Stuart Mackinnon. "It is important for our civic workers to be treated fairly."

"The NPA has a total disrespect for unionized workers," said Woodcock. "I see that as a parks commissioner."

"The City just made many managerial staff exempt staff, by re-classifiying them at a cost of about $10,000 increased salary for doing basically the same job," said Woodcock "They are doing this to strike-proof the city. They state that unionized workers are getting a 4% increase, and exclude that managers are also getting the same 4% increase."

The special guest speakers were clearly the highlight of the meeting. Woodcock also discussed how NPA parks chair had put a motion forward to initiate a morale survey, but withdrew it once Woodcock had identified key issues to address. These same issues had shown up on an in-house library culture survey, that showed that the morale at the Vancouver Library was poor before last year's strike action. Everybody agrees the situations are worse post-strike.

I did ask them what they thought about Sam Sullivan's comments to Don Cayo's interview in the Vancouver Sun. Sullivan says 'I did everything I wanted do' Sullivan admitted that one of his regrets during his 14 years of city hall including 3 years as mayor, was that the strike went on too long. Sullivan said:

'The strike is a considerable regret. I don't like to implicate anybody. These are all my own weaknesses, my own shortcomings. But I chose to not have any role in it -- to leave a lot of room for our staff. ...

Everybody knew what the deal was -- 17.5 per cent. We knew it the weekend the strike started. Everybody knew it.

So I suggested, "Why don't we just offer that?"

It was, "Mayor, you don't understand negotiations. You have to offer less. Then they ask for more. Then you offer more. And eventually you get to the right number."'
If this was truly the case, why didn't Mayor Sullivan step in to ensure that a strike never happened. All the other municipalities saw the bargaining positions happening, and they were quickly able to avert forcing strike action. Our CUPE 391 bargaining committee said they had never seen labour negotiations like the ones the city put them through in years of bargaining. The GVRD labour relations bureau kept rejecting CUPE 391 proposals since January when the contract ran out, and never put forward a contract counter-offer until July when it was too late.

Mayor Sullivan instead decided to table a "final offer" to Vancouver civic workers and then force them to vote on it which Vision Vancouver councilor Raymond Louie said "is dangerous bullying, and is more likely to provoke a strike than to end it. It was actually Louie who proposed mediatio only two weeks into the strike, in an effort to bring it to a quick close. Unfortunately the NPA rejected the mediation process.... and the strike dragged on and on.

The GVRD Labour Relations Bureau also had it set that they would not deal with the smaller CUPE 391 library workers, until it had finished negotiating with the larger CUPE 15 inside workers and CUPE 1004 outside workers. So library workers were out of luck regardless. This doesn't sound like a fair negotiating strategy that would ensure good labour relations for a city that has just been chosen as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 2009 by Mediacorp Canada Ltd.

It's actually an embarrassment.

Peter Ladner was not helpful in resolving the strike issues and actually helped to make them worse when he submitted "a vitriolic column in the Vancouver Sun that regurgitates the City’s discredited propaganda and continues the myth of a City council protecting residents from their city workers."

07 November 2008

Parks help narrow health gap between rich, poor: study

Friday, November 7, 2008 CBC News

Green spaces encourage people to be physically active and reduce stress. Green spaces like parks and forests help narrow health gaps between the rich and poor living in cities, say researchers who are urging urban planners to invest in greenery.

In Saturday's issue of the Lancet, Richard Mitchell of the University of Glasgow and his colleagues looked at mortality records, income data and the amount of green areas for more than 366,000 people in England who were below retirement age in 2001 to 2005.

In general, studies show that people living in poorer areas tend to be more unhealthy and die earlier because of differences in diet, lifestyle and access to medical care. Living near open, undeveloped land such as parks, forests, playing fields and river corridors seemed to help reduce this gap, according to the latest study.

The difference in the rate of deaths between the richest and poorest was roughly halved for those living with the most greenery around them, compared with those with the fewest green spaces, the researchers found.

"The size of the difference in the health gap is surprising and represented a much bigger effect than I had been expecting," said Mitchell. "So the key message is green spaces are another tool for governments to combat this health gap between rich and poor."

Green space `more than pretty'

The difference more than doubled for deaths from circulatory disease such as heart disease and stroke, but there was no effect on suicides, the researchers said. Green spaces may encourage people to be more physically active, and previous studies have suggested that parks and open space help people reduce blood pressure and stress levels, and perhaps even heal more quickly after surgery.

"The implications of this study are clear: environments that promote good health might be crucial in the fight to reduce health inequalities," the study's authors concluded. In a commentary accompanying the study, Terry Hartig of the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University in Sweden agreed: "This study offers valuable evidence that green space does more than pretty up the neighbourhood. It appears to have real effects on health inequality, of a kind that politicians and health authorities should take seriously."

The final report of the World Health Organization's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health also called for wide-ranging improvements in daily living conditions. Restoring environmental supports to mitigate health inequities could help achieve these goals, Hartig said.

06 November 2008

Which Parks Board candidate will you choose?

COPE? Vision Vancouver? Green Party? NPA? Independent?
How about one of each, then your next favorite!
by Todd Wong, Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Stuart Mackinnon, Green Party candidate and paddler on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, answers a question about accessibility to parks, and speaks to the audience. - photo Todd Wong 2008 Nov2

The candidates for Vancouver Parks Board have been making the rounds visiting Community Centres, and other all-candidates debates. On Monday night, they were at Killarney Community Centre. On Tuesday night, they were at Kerrisdale Community Centre.

The evening opened with each candidate having a few short minutes to introduce themselves. Aaron Jasper and Raj Hundal represented the Vision Vancouver Party. Incumbent Loretta Woodcock and former parks commissioner Anita Romaniuk represented COPE. NPA were represented by Laura McDiarmid, Marty Zlotnik, Sharon Urton, Christopher Richardson, Ian Robertson, Melissa De Genova.

Stuart Mackinnon is the only Green Party candidate in the 2008 Vancouver civic election. Ivan Doumenc of the Work Less Party, as well as independents Jamie Lee Hamilton, Thomas Lockhart and Richard Mayencourt.

It was a busy night, I arrived just before 8pm, on a night when many people were more interested in the U.S. Presidential election results.

There were about 50 to 60 people attending, and I could count 6 active dragon boaters in the room + 3 of the candidates that I had tried to recruit for our team.

With 15 candidates attending, the moderator did a good job of spreading out the answers from the candidates as she tried ensure that that everybody got a chance to address the issues.

If you wanted to ask a question, you had to write it down and hand it to a handler - where it was inspected for suitability.

My question was:
Our community centres are under-utilized and under-recognized for the important role that they play in making culture and diversity accessible to our citizens. What will you and your party do to better represent the cultural needs and representation of Vancouver's diversity?

It was the most popular question of the evening for the candidates as many of them wanted to answer it. Raj Hundal gave an example of how the Roundhouse had recently celebrated the Diwali Festival, and how important it is for ethnic communities to become involved with the community centres.

Two of the more emotional highlights of the evening were 1) a question about the Hollow Tree, and 2) a question about limiting transportation use in Stanley Park.

Stuart Mackinnon gave a very good example of how many factors all play roles in transportation issues. He cited that one of the tour operators has given tours to the special needs teens that he teaches at Killarney Secondary School, as a way to "give back to the community." There are many factors, and Mackinnon emphasized that stake holders must be included in the process.

My question that did not get asked was deemed "beyond jurisdiction" and a "labour issue." I had wanted to ask that "given the long civic strike last year, how would each of the candidates and their party work to avoid or address the loss of important services such as community centres, pools, ice rinks and libraries to our citizens.

It's unfortunate that the question could not be asked, because it was terribly painful to see our parks grow steadily neglected and the trees dry out because of the protracted civic strikes caused by the inability of the GVRD labour relations bureau to negotiate fairly and reasonably, as they consistently walked away from talks with each of the three civic unions. It was a shame that only a few weeks after schools let out for summer that the swimming pools were closed, and that all the summer community programs were closed, leaving children and their parents to find alternatives if possible.

I had followed the library strike carefully, since I was a Vancouver library employee forced onto the picket line, because the GVRD labour relations bureau wasn't going to deal with our small CUPE 391 local, until it had completed its priority with the two larger CUPE 15 and CUPE 1004 (city inside and outside workers) first.

The protracted civic strike was a lose-lose-lose scenario. The citizens lost. The workers lost, and the NPA dominated city council and mayor looked like bullies. All the municipalities surrounding Vancouver were able to settle with their workers leaving Vancouver the only city forced into an unnecessary strike. For this coming election, it will be important to elect progressive parks board commissioners and city councilors who will look for solutions instead of confrontation.

Two weeks into the strike last year, it was Vision councilor Raymond Louie who called for mediation - which was rejected by NPA councilors. Three months later, the strikes are solved by mediation - almost 90 days later. For these reasons, I am supporting the COPE / Vision / Green candidates for the Vancouver civic election + the fact that I think they are accomplished individuals, and wonderful people.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy

27 October 2008

Vancouver Parks Board candidate Stuart Mackinnon blends multiculturalism with Green Party environmental issues.

from: www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com
by Todd on Sat 25 Oct 2008 11:58 AM PDT

This week I have had the pleasure to attend dinner events with Stuart Mackinnon, Vancouver parks board candidate for the Green Party. On Thursday, we attended the Oct 23rd Vision Vancouver dinner at Floata Restaurant. On Friday, we attended the Oct 24th Chinese Canadian Military Museum 10th Anniversary dinner, where we also volunteered to help sell raffle tickets. On Tuesday, I spoke on Stuart's behalf at the Vancouver & District Labour Council.

The following is an amendment to what I said about why I believe Stuart will be a great Vancouver Parks Board Commissioner, with pictures from the Vision Vancouver Floata dinner.

Stuart Mackinnon (in kilt) with his good friend Andrea Reimer - who is running for Vancouver city council. - photo Todd Wong

Stuart Mackinnon is active. He speaks out on issues. He attends Parks board meetings. He has been a thorn in the NPA side, to make sure they follow proper democratic process.

The first time I met Stuart, it was through his blog Better Parks. He was writing about naming the proposed "Selkirk Park" at 72nd St. Whether it became Obasan Park or David Suzuki Park, Stuart wanted and helped to make it more of a democratic process. Stuart has fought against the privatizing of parks, such as against the imposition of high priced restaurants at Kitsilano Beach and English Bay.

Stuart is a teacher at Killarney Secondary School. He teaches special needs. He was vice-president of his Vancouver Teachers Federation Local 392.1, of the BCTF. Stuart is amazing. Last year he took a group of teachers to China, where he delivered a key note talk about Norman Bethune as an organizer for the "Follow Dr. Norman Bethune to China Committee."

Stuart Mackinnon with COPE school board candidate Bill Bargeman. Stuart was vice-president with Bill's presidency for Vancouver Teachers' Federation local 39.2 BCTF - photo Todd Wong

Stuart is passionate about what he believes in. He joined our dragon boat team last year, loved the intercultural process and the fitness opportunities it presented - then almost immediately asked how to create a junior dragon boat team for Killarney high school students, then guided them to a silver medal in their first year of competition. That's Stuart - a man of action, while thinking how to be a team builder, and ensure that every person is included and feels empowered.

And along the way, he realized more the importance of Vancouver's False Creek's waterways and parks as important to our recreational activities. And he saw first hand the pollution that threatened this important recreational jewel, when unacceptable "accidents dumped raw sewage into False Creek". Stuart Mackinnon thinks big picture. Stuart Mackinnon thinks long range. Stuart Mackinnon thinks community and environment first.

Stuart is Scottish - of Scottish descent. I am of Chinese descent. Vancouver has a large Chinese population. Vancouver has a large multicultural population. He participates actively on our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. He understands multiculturalism. This is what we need for our city and for our community centres. Stuart is president of the Canada China Education Association

Stuart Mackinnon with Charlie Wu of the Taiwanese Cultural Festival (Stuart LOVES the Taiwanese dragon boats), and City Councilor Raymond Louie and son - photo Todd Wong

It's important to have a Green candidate on the slate. It's important to have a diversity of ideas - and especially to represent our environment. Our environment isn't just about trees and grass, it is also about our culture and our history. I believe that Stuart Mackinnon will be honorable in supporting these values. Stuart genuinely cares about our environment and is a past president of SPEC (the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation) and past chair for Vancouver Green Party.

During the Vancouve civic strike, Stuart supported CUPE 15, 1004 and 391 and our issues. He knows the importance that hard working and loyal city workers can make. He knows that we put our hearts and souls into the pride of our jobs. Stuart Mackinnon will listen. He will be inclusive, He will be supportive of city workers, but more important, he will be empowering. I believe in Stuart. He will be honourable.

Check out Stuart Mackinnon's website: www.betterparks.ca

Candidates in market for local food

JEFF HODSON/ Metro Vancouver
27 October 2008 05:05

Farmers’ markets need a permanent place in Vancouver, said members of three civic political parties at the season’s final market held in Kitsilano yesterday.

Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson, a former organic farmer, said the markets need longer-term permits and signage.

“There’s no doubt that they bring incredible economic value and community strength for Vancouver,” said Robertson, flanked by COPE council candidate Ellen Woodsworth and Greens Stuart MacKinnon (park board) and Ben West (electoral district A).

“They’ve grown enormously over these past few years. I think everyone in this city wants to see a stronger and more secure place for farmers’ markets.”

Woodsworth said the markets exemplify the idea of growing locally and said the city needs a building so that they can be held year round.

19 October 2008


Meet Stuart and some of the other Park Board candidates as they discuss the issues

October 30 @ 7 pm: West Point Grey Community Centre located at 2nd Avenue and Trimble Street

November 2 @ 2 pm: Roundhouse Community Centre located in Yaletown at 181 Roundhouse Mews near Pacific and Drake

November 3 @ 7 pm: Killarney Community Centre located at Killarney st off of 49th av

November 4 @ 7 pm Kerrisdale Community Centre located at the corner of West Boulevard and 42nd

12 October 2008

Campaign for Better Parks under way!

You can visit my new website betterparks.ca now for information about my campaign for Parks Commissioner in Vancouver. If you would like a sign or want to donate you can do so at the betterparks site. Our campaign headquarters official opening will be announced shortly. More coming up!

01 October 2008

Green candidate gets the nod from Vision, COPE

Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier
Published: Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Parks board candidate Stuart Mackinnon says the Vancouver Green Party made a deal with COPE and Vision Vancouver for the civic election because of its enthusiasm for Vision's mayoral candidate.

"From our end we endorsed the agreement because we believe the greenest mayor Vancouver will ever have will be Gregor Robertson," said Mackinnon.

Last week the local Green Party announced it had reached an agreement to work cooperatively with Vision and COPE and to endorse Gregor Robertson for mayor. The deal is not being called a joint campaign or a coalition, but the parties agreed not to have any overlap in candidates nominated to run for council, school board and parks board.

Vision is running three candidates for parks board and COPE is running two, including incumbent Loretta Woodcock and former parks board commissioner Anita Romaniuk, who were nominated Sunday at the COPE membership meeting. One space was left for Mackinnon to run for parks board and a second allows Ben West to run as a Green candidate for Electoral Area A, which includes the UBC Endowment Lands.

Mackinnon, a teacher at Killarney secondary school, said the deal will also allow the Green Party to meet with elected officials twice a year to discuss council and school board issues.

"They left one space for the park board because parks and the Green Party go hand in hand," said Mackinnon. "It was a natural choice."

Mackinnon said the agreement acknowledges the Vancouver Green Party as a player in municipal politics. He added the Green Party has a local core base of 27,000 supporters.

"Realistically that number is much smaller than what COPE and Vision have," he said. "So we decided, why split the vote?"

Mackinnon said when he ran for a seat on parks board in the last civic election he increased the party's vote by 10,000. In the 2005 municipal election Mackinnon was 6,000 votes short of election to the parks board.

Mackinnon said recent parks board decisions show a trend toward creating destination attractions, when the focus should be on community amenities. He cited the closure of the outdoor pool at Sunset Community Centre, as well as the looming closure of the Mount Pleasant outdoor pool, as examples. The parks board is building a new aquatic centre at Riley Park designed to serve several communities, including Sunset and Mount Pleasant.

"Neighbourhoods are the core of the city," said Mackinnon. "It's one thing to let your kids walk down the block to their neighbourhood pool and another to put them on a bus."

Mackinnon has also been active in the effort to re-green Hastings Park. He added despite the fact a casino was built on the property--against the wishes of numerous neighbours and community groups, much more can be done to create additional green space there.

"I had a wonderful youth in Vancouver," said Mackinnon. "It was almost magical with trips to the beach and outdoor pools and to the park. I want to give that to the children of today."

Political analyst Kennedy Stewart said the Greens "wouldn't have a prayer" without the endorsement of Robertson.

"But now at least they have a shot, or at least a much better chance," said Stewart, a political scientist at SFU.

He said COPE is in the same position after agreeing to run fewer people and not run a mayoral candidate. Stewart said the deal means COPE might end up with two members on council instead of a single councillor, David Cadman.

"It's kind of like one step backwards and two steps forward," he said. "But it's the best they could have hoped for."

© Vancouver Courier 2008

25 September 2008

Neighbourhood facilities matter

On Monday night the Park Board commissioners will vote on the Capital Plan which will be presented to voters to approve (or the borrowing to pay for it) in November on election day. One item conspicuously absent is funding for the Mount Pleasant pool and old community centre. This despite promises that funding would be provided. Margery Duda and her heroic group of activists at the Friends of Mount Pleasant Pool have been campaigning to save this neighbourhood amenity. Even with a community consultation process that showed the residents wanted the pool and centre to remain and promises from the Park Board that they would support the residents efforts, the pool is once again absent in the Capital Plan.

Neighbourhoods are what make Vancouver a livable place. They are the heart and soul of the city. Community centres and neighbourhood parks are our playgrounds. The NPA dominated Park Board has been moving to a policy of destination facilities and away from neighbourhood ones. This may be cheaper in the short-term but it will decimate neighbourhoods in the long-run. It is a foolish short-sighted view.

If you don't want to see your neighbourhood facilities whittled away, then the Mount Pleasant pool fight matters to you too. Please send a letter to the Park Board saying neighbourhood facilities matter. That keeping an outdoor pool in Mount Pleasant matters. That destination facilities are the wrong direction to be moving in. It just might be your neighbourhood that loses next time.

24 September 2008


Media Release
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(VANCOUVER) The Vancouver Green Party has ratified a co-operation agreement with Vision Vancouver, and have endorsed Gregor Robertson as their candidate for Mayor of Vancouver. The Vancouver Greens met last week to discuss their election strategy, and voted to work co-operatively with Vision and COPE to bring progressive change to City Hall.

"I want to make Vancouver a leader in environmental sustainability, and I am thrilled to receive the Green Party of Vancouver's endorsement," said Vision Vancouver Mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson. "This is about a new kind of politics: different parties working together to bring progressive leadership to all levels of government in Vancouver."

"I am honored to be the Green's choice for Mayor of Vancouver, and will work hard to be the greenest Mayor Vancouver has ever had."

The purpose of the cooperative agreement is to ensure progressive candidates are elected at all levels of municipal government in Vancouver, and that a broad coalition of voices be presented to the electorate. It is not a joint campaign or a coalition, but rather an agreement to work together cooperatively on areas of common concern. Between Vision Vancouver, the Green Party, and COPE, there will be no overlap in candidates nominated.

"We are proud to be endorsing Gregor Robertson," said Green party deputy chair Desmond Rodendour, who oversaw the Green Party's nomination meeting. "The Green Party is looking forward to working together with Vision and COPE in a way that will help give the people of Vancouver what they want - a progressive government with political parties working together on their behalf."

The agreement means the Greens will not run against the City Council and School Board candidates nominated by Vision and COPE. On Park Board, one space was left for the Green Party, as well as Electoral Area A, which represents the UBC Endowment Lands and other areas of the region not represented by a municipality on the board of Metro Vancouver.

The Green Party of Vancouver nominated Stuart Mackinnon as their candidate for Vancouver Park Board, and Ben West as their candidate for Electoral Area A.

"This is a great time to be Green," said Parks Board Candidate Stuart Mackinnon. "People understand the immensity of our environmental challenges and that our voice is needed around the table. We are eager to get to work on their behalf."

Ben West, Green Party chairperson and the party's nominee for Electoral Area A, also reiterated the excitement about working together.

"This is an exciting time politically for people in Vancouver. We have an opportunity to address our ecological responsibilities and to make change for the better" said West. "With Gregor Robertson as our Mayoral candidate, Vision, COPE, and the Greens can work together to bring progressive leadership to all levels of local government."



Vancouver Green Party
Ben West – Chairperson & Electoral Area A candidate 604 710 5340
Stuart Mackinnon – Parks Board candidate 778 389 1956
Desmond Rodenbour – Deputy Chairperson 604 512 4487

Vision Vancouver
Ian Baillie – 604.761.5540

20 September 2008

Stuart Mackinnon: Green Party candidate for Park Board

On Thursday night I was honoured to be endorsed as the Green Party of Vancouver's candidate for Park Board. A full announcement of the decisions of the GPv membership will be forthcoming. Stay tuned!

14 September 2008

Encounter with a Recycling Vigilante

I recently moved into the Fraserlands area and walk with my dog along the river walk everyday. The path has been extended along the river behind the old White Pines mill. Today there was a guy out on the mud flats kicking over debris. He yelled up at me that it was treasure chest for someone who collected copper. There was quite a few pieces of old copper piping. He then started telling me just how much old metal there was in the river and how it was all breaking down and polluting this magnificent waterway. He told of an entire island upstream that was made from the dumping of old metal in years gone by and how now it was covered in trees. He said he was going to bring a video camera next time and record the toxic waste on the riverbank. He called himself the 'recycling vigilante' and that he did this because he loved the earth and wanted people to know what was happening.

There was a time when we thought we could just dump anything in the river or in the sewers (which would end up in the river) and then walk away. We know better now. We know that what befalls the earth befalls us too, that toxins get into our body through our food and water. Hopefully we have learned...but then I look around and see all the plastic and metal littering our parks, and all the packaging in our stores and think maybe we really haven't learnt anything.

I am grateful to the 'recycling vigilante' and all the folks who shout and curse at our foolishness. Hopefully we are wise enough to hear them.

13 September 2008

She's got vision

September 12, 2008
By ALEX G. TSAKUMIS (24 Hours)

Every so often, a great candidate for public office will emerge and I'm then left wondering why we can't attract more of the same, or, if we will ever get as good in the future.

You've read here, time and again, my arguments for everything from an expansive compassion for the life of a politician - even though some may habitually fail us - to paying top dollar to get top drawer.

But to legitimize such generosity, the best kind of public servant has to be someone more than a walking resume.

Besides, casting your ballot for a candidate is always based on an emotional connection between you and them: Why do we trust them? Can they help a greater cause? Is their vision congruent with ours?

Well, if you're looking for a star in the making, even though I would argue she's already arrived, someone who you can trust and will be, at the very least, a capable steward in helping to manage an almost $1 billion annual City of Vancouver budget ... let me introduce you to Andrea Reimer.

At the outset and this should be of little surprise, Reimer, the Western Wilderness Committee starlet, with stellar "Green" credentials, is not someone whom I would find myself in agreement with on many issues: She believes in climate crisis, I believe we have climate change; she thinks Al Gore is bona fide eco-hero, I think he's a vacuous buffoon; she, as a Vision candidate for council, would have you believe we need to throw the economic book open and start reprioritizing, I hope they understand you can't multiply the city's wealth by dividing it first.

And so on ...

So why then do I think Andrea Reimer will make a great city councillor? Because she exudes trust.

I trust her.

It's not Reimer's intelligence, of which there is plenty, or her effusive care, of which there is an equal amount.

Andrea Reimer is not someone who will blindly follow if she feels that the greater good is to vote her conscience instead.

That's the kind of independence that used to be the hallmark commitment of NPA champions such as Lynne Kennedy, Gordon Price and George Puil. It's what made my old pal Harry Rankin a legend. It's what makes COPE's David Cadman a credible firebrand.

Moreover, Reimer's personal story is so very compelling. She has transformed from a "street kid" to an educated, polished, knowledgeable, clear-headed local hero that other young women (and men), can point to as the desired end product in a life otherwise riddled with successive challenges of monumental scope.

She doesn't take the easy way out. It must be a principled cause. It has to matter.

"Although I'm concerned about what we're doing in this city, I'm just as concerned about the way we're doing it," Reimer told me earlier this week. "Council has to have a compassionate agenda that speaks to the needs of the city as a whole," she said.

I agree, wholeheartedly.

Now, you may think it's the same message that we might get from any "candidate for change," but Reimer's plump credentials and gripping journey notwithstanding, her message is persuasive, if not reassuring.

"You can't let yourself down ... because people won't believe you can help them either ..." she says.

Andrea Reimer has an independent, progressive voice and she will lead this city (and perhaps, one day, the region) to a better place soon enough. Much better.

And, apparently, she doesn't let you down either.

10 September 2008

Vancouver's centre-left civic parties strike deal

Globe and Mail Update

September 9, 2008 at 2:40 PM EDT

Vancouver's three centre-left civic parties have struck a deal that will ensure Vision's Gregor Robertson will be the only mayoral candidate among them.

The deal also gives Vision, the Coalition of Progressive Electors and the Green Party each a share of council, school and park slates.

The three parties see it as the only way to beat the centre-right Non-Partisan Association, by ensuring that no progressive candidates are competing against each other.

"This is good for the city because we're not going to have divided slates now," said COPE Councillor David Cadman, who had talked frequently about the possibility of running for mayor earlier in the year.

In the last election, the nascent Vision and COPE, the party it had just split off from, had only a weak, and sometimes fractious, alliance that many say allowed the NPA to squeak to a win.

Vision co-chair Mike Magee said it was a tough negotiation that went on for months, since Mr. Robertson was chosen as the mayoral candidate in June.

It was complicated by the fact that an enormous number of people, enthused by Vision's surge, decided to run for office. The party now has 37 candidates competing for the 16 slate positions it has now negotiated.

"I think it's a fair deal," Mr. Magee said. "But it was emotional. There was a lot of give and take and it took a long time to get there."

Some had been predicting that there might be no deal at all because it was taking so long to put together. But Mr. Robertson started phoning Vision's candidates on the weekend to tell them the numbers.

In what came as a surprise to some, COPE is getting the majority of spots on the school-board slate, five of the nine.

But that was the price to pay for getting more Vision spots on council, eight out of the 10, and ensuring that no one ran against Mr. Robertson for mayor, say people from all camps.

"I'd hope [the COPE school candidates] would see the value of making this work," said Mr. Magee.

On park board, Vision will run four candidates, COPE will run two, and the Green Party will have one.

"Personally, I am pleased that we've been recognized as a force in civic politics," said Stuart Mackinnon, the Green Party's park board candidate.

"And Vision is running the greenest mayor we've ever had. Gregor Robertson could be a Green Party member."

In fact, the first provincial party Robertson joined in 2001 was the Green Party.

The "co-operative understanding," as it's been called, has been approved by the COPE and Vision executives.

It still has to be approved by the COPE membership, where it's expected that former councilor Tim Louis, who was the only COPE board member to vote against it Monday night, will suggest that COPE should run full slates and a mayoral candidate.

Vision and COPE have also agreed to identify three issues where they would have a common platform, said Mr. Cadman. But the two parties will not have a joint campaign.

The news comes in a week where all the civic parties have had to reassess their campaign strategies, given the reality that a federal election will dominate the news until a month before the Nov. 15 election date.

As well, the city may see two byelections, one in Fairview, one in the West End, in between the federal and civic elections.

Mr. Magee said he thinks the shortened campaign period will work to Vision's benefit, since it will give the NPA and its mayoral candidate, Peter Ladner, less time to run the negative campaign against Mr. Robertson that he has been anticipating.

As well, he said, the public may be turned off by negative campaigning by the end of the federal election.

But other analysts say that Mr. Ladner may benefit from the short campaign window, since he is better known than Mr. Robertson and four weeks will not be enough time for the public to get to see a difference between the candidates.

09 September 2008

Trout Lake Community Centre to be put on capital plan

September 9th, 2008 ·
Frances Bula

The Non-Partisan Association council is going to announce imminently that it will put the $20 milliion for a new Trout Lake community centre back into the capital plan for 2009-2011.

That’s coming as a great relief to community centre presidents, who got alarmed when all money for community centres got dropped from the capital plan in the spring. That was because the plan — which is essentially the spending for any large projects in the next three years that has to be approved by voters during the civic election — has been squeezed by the ginormous cost overruns for the Olympics-related community-centre improvements of the last three years. That’s the Trout Lake and Killarney ice rinks, plus the complete makeover of the Hillcrest centre, which will be the Olympic curling facility in 2010, then the community centre and swimming pool after.

As well, all kinds of police and fire big-budget items are also on the ticket.

Danny Yu, president of the Marpole Community Centre, said it’s a relief that the NPA have decided to restore at least one community centre to the plan. (In case you’re confused, the Trout Lake ice rink is just one part of the community centre, so it will have a beautiful new ice-rink building soon and then the regular main part of the community centre is what the tussling is over.)

He says the park board renewal plan, which aims to keep replacing the city’s aging centres at a regular rate, has only been proceeding at one community centre every seven years, when it really needs to be one or two every three-year capital plan.

He and others will be at the city’s Sept. 15 public meeting on the capital plan to also get the council to at least put in some planning money for the next two centres on the list, Marpole and Hastings.

Don’t you love election time and the way it loosens the purse strings.


07 August 2008

Stuart Mackinnon for Park Board

Parks and public spaces advocate Stuart Mackinnon to seek Green endorsement for Park Board

Long time parks and public spaces advocate Stuart Mackinnon will be seeking the Green Party endorsement for Park Board Commissioner in the November civic election. Stuart has been advocating for more responsible management of Vancouver parks and public spaces for many years.

“Parks are the life-blood of any city. We are so blessed to have such beautiful places to play and relax in Vancouver, but our parks are, at best, being neglected and at worse mismanaged,” said Mackinnon.

Stuart has advocated for the proper management of Stanley Park and the return of Hastings Park to the community as a board member of the Hastings Park Conservancy. He has campaigned to keep neighbourhood outdoor pools open and was instrumental in creating a policy for the naming of new parks. Stuart believes that our parks are not only places of recreation but also of quiet reflection in our busy urban landscape, and where children can learn about their natural environment.

Continued Mackinnon, “Parks should be open to all, not just the wealthy and not just for those lucky enough to live near a destination facility. We must re-examine recreation policies to ensure fairness and equal access. We must ensure facilities are available in every neighbourhood. Our parks are the refuges of the city for people and wildlife. We must preserve and promote them as green spaces. Parks and public spaces are for everyone”.

If you would like to help, please join the Green Party of Vancouver today. Send $10 (cheques payable to: Green Party of Vancouver) to 3453 Garden Drive, Vancouver BC V5N 4Y6. Thank you.

19 July 2008

Former Green seeks Vision

Ex-school trustee Reimer will run for city council nomination

Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun

Published: Thursday, July 17, 2008

VANCOUVER - Former Green party school trustee Andrea Reimer is seeking a Vision Vancouver nomination for Vancouver city council.

Reimer, executive director of the Wilderness Committee, was campaign co-chair of NDP MLA Gregor Robertson's successful bid to win Vision Vancouver's nomination as mayor.

Vision Vancouver now has four councillors sitting on city council, George Chow, Heather Deal, Raymond Louie and Tim Stevenson.

A nomination meeting to pick candidates for council, school board and park board in the November civic election will be held by Vision Vancouver on Sept. 20. No site has been announced for the meeting.

Vision Vancouver says it has more than 14,000 members.

"I love Vancouver," Reimer said Wednesday in a news release. "It is a city of amazing people, diverse neighbourhoods and incredible natural beauty.

"But as we move into a new century, new challenges have found Vancouver," Reimer said. "Our inability to meet these challenges is making Vancouver a city of stark contrasts."

Reimer has launched a campaign website listing three "big ideas" for Vancouver: Making it the greenest city on earth; a city of compassion, and of opportunity.

She will hold a meeting next Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden.

Robertson will take on the Non-Partisan Association's candidate for mayor, Coun. Peter Ladner, who defeated Mayor Sam Sullivan for the NPA nomination. Robertson defeated Coun. Raymond Louie and park board member Allan De Genova for the Vision nomination.


Melissa De Genova returns to the NPA fold

July 16 2008, Straight
By Charlie Smith

I suspected that park commissioner Al De Genova's fling with Vision Vancouver was probably over after he was trounced in his bid to become the party's mayoral nominee last month.

I became even more convinced when I asked him at a recent park board meeting whom he will vote for in the November mayoral race in Vancouver.

De Genova wouldn't answer my question, even after I specifically asked if he would support the NPA's Peter Ladner or Vision Vancouver's Gregor Robertson.

De Genova would only say that he would support his daughter's candidacy for park board for whichever party she chose to align herself with.

Tonight, Melissa De Genova's fling with Vision Vancouver also ended when she announced in front of her proud papa that she will seek an NPA nomination for park board.

She said that Vision Vancouver had strayed from the direction it was originally on when former mayor and current Liberal Senator Larry Campbell helped create the party (i.e. a federal Liberal direction).

There was always something fishy about Al De Genova's entry into the Vision Vancouver mayoral race, which was enthusiastically backed by Sen. Campbell and other federal Liberals.

It's true that De Genova's family defected to Vision Vancouver in 2006 after Mayor Sullivan suspended the five-term park commissioner from the NPA caucus.

But De Genova is a real-estate agent, and Vision Vancouver is really the NDP farm team in Vancouver. There aren't many real-estate agents who support the NDP.

Eearlier this year, it almost seemed as if the federal and provincial Liberals wanted to hedge their bets by preparing a Vision takeover if their man Peter Ladner didn't knock off Mayor Sam Sullivan for the NPA nomination.

Now De Genova's daughter has returned to the NPA fold (yes, she and her father played significant roles in Sam Sullivan winning the 2005 NPA mayoral nomination over then-federal and provincial Liberal Christy Clark).

And Ladner was present at tonight's announcement when Melissa declared her intentions.

Don't kid yourself folks. The 2008 Vancouver mayoral election isn't just a race for control of City Hall.

This will also be a dry run for the provincial contest in May of 2009, with New Democrats backing Robertson and provincial Liberals backing Ladner.

Whoever wins in November will give those provincial backers a bit of momentum when they go after the big prize--the legislature--six months later.

Parks board wannabes launch bids

Community activist Aaron Jasper among many COPE, Vision candidates

Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier

Published: Friday, July 18, 2008

Vision Vancouver and COPE have not yet decided if they will run a joint slate for parks board in the November municipal election, says COPE spokesperson Ellen Woodsworth.

"We've been informally discussing a joint slate, but I can't give you an answer just yet," said Woodsworth, external chair of the COPE negotiating committee. "But I'm expecting it to be decided long before the [Sept. 28] nomination meeting."

As the two parties talk, more Vision and COPE hopefuls are publicly declaring their plans to seek a nomination for parks board. COPE recently announced three new candidates will seek nominations, including SFU geography professor John Irwin, former parks board commissioner Anita Romaniuk and teacher Omar Kassis. Incumbent Loretta Woodcock will attempt to win a third term on the board.

At Vision Vancouver, Sarah Blyth of the Vancouver Skateboard Coalition, web developer Steve Tannock and Aaron Jasper, director with the West End Residents' Association, have declared. According to Vision Vancouver, Constance Barnes is also considering a run for a parks board nomination, but as of the Courier's press deadline had not made a decision. Barnes is the daughter of Emery Barnes, who was elected to the B.C. Legislative Assembly in 1972 and was re-elected four times.

Vision members will select candidates for council, parks and school board Sept. 20. Vision co-chair Mike Magee did not return phone calls before the Courier's press deadline.

Jasper says he was driven to seek a spot on the board because despite his best efforts as a community activist to influence city policy the real decisions are made by elected politicians.

"A lot of people have asked me, 'Why do you want to be a politician and be under that constraint?'" said Jasper. "But I feel such frustration. How many hours can you spend at a city council or park board meeting fighting to be acknowledged?"

Jasper said he was considering a run for the board when Gregor Robertson won the mayoral nomination for Vision Vancouver, and Robertson's win convinced him to do it. Robertson stepped down as the NDP MLA for Vancouver-Fairview earlier this week to concentrate on his run for mayor. Jasper said he likes Robertson's commitment to the environment and sustainable living.

"I really wanted to rally behind Gregor and his progressive platform," said Jasper. "I honestly believe in what Gregor stands for and I think it's a good fit with his values."

Jasper said the parks board should play a strong role on behalf of sustainability. He added the board should also consider public opinion more when it comes to making decisions.

Jasper has a long history of community activism in the West End and, besides volunteering with WERA, is a founding member of the West End Integrated Neighbourhood Network. Jasper also works with groups such as Renters at Risk and Save St. Paul's Hospital. He was instrumental in having community gardens included in the redevelopment of Nelson Park, helped organize the West End's first Car Free Festival and is working on the West End greenways project.

Jasper will officially announce his candidacy this Sunday.

11 July 2008

Readers crushed by QE Park trees

Vancouver Courier

To the editor:

Only in Vancouver could a body elected to preserve and protect our parks vote to cut down 70 living healthy trees and then vote to protect one dead stump.

For the NPA parks commissioners our parks are money-generating tourist spots rather than the playgrounds of the residents whose taxes pay for them. They will cut down the trees in QE park so tour buses spewing carbon can stop for five minutes to catch a glimpse of the North Shore mountains better seen from other places in the city. And then they will chain up a dead stump, so once again tour buses can stop for a photo op.

Let the living live and let the dead rest. That is the way nature intended it.

Stuart Mackinnon,


© Vancouver Courier 2008