30 July 2009

During Hot Dry Spell Young Street Trees Need Water

Press Release
Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

July 30, 2009 (No. 44) - The current long hot, dry spell means additional stress on young street trees in Vancouver. The Vancouver Park Board is asking residents to assist by watering trees adjacent to their property. The record-breaking weather is especially damaging to newly planted trees which are still establishing their root systems. Trees planted within the last four years – many of which have “new tree” tags attached—would benefit most by watering at this time.

Residents are asked to keep vigilant for young stressed streets trees adjacent to their property—usually indicated by leaves turning brown or falling. The best practice is to apply at least 12 to 20 litres of water (five to 10 minutes with a slow running hose or a couple of watering cans full) two to three times per week over the roots. Regional water restrictions do not apply to trees and shrubs, but be water-wise by ensuring that all of it gets to the tree.

In the past decade the Park Board has planted over 40,000 new trees on our streets. It is estimated that the 135,000 trees currently found on our streets are valued at approximately $500 million.

More information about Vancouver's street trees can be found at vancouverparks.ca and click on the ‘Trees' link under ‘For your information.'

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For more information contact Carol DeFina, Communications Coordinator, at 604-257-8440.

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation maintains 220 parks and 40 major facilities throughout the City of Vancouver. The Park Board's mission is to provide, preserve and advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit people, communities and the environment.


Copyright © 2003-2009 Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation,
2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6G 1Z4
Telephone: 604-257-8400, Fax: 604-257-8427, vancouverparks.ca

29 July 2009

Neighbours decry Oppenheimer Park closure

By Carlito Pablo
Publish Date: July 9, 2009

On most nice days, Delanye Azrael hops across the street from her apartment building to read in Oppenheimer Park.

Occupying one city block in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the park may not be much to look at, with no pretty flower gardens and dancing water fountains. It actually has quite a rough image, as a gathering place for homeless and often drug-dependent people with dope dealers always close by.

But for many residents in the community like Azrael, Oppenheimer Park is more than just one of the few public spaces where they can sit down on a patch of grass to relax or let their kids loose in the playground. For them, the park is an extension of their homes.

That’s why Azrael considered it an offensive act when a tall fence covered with a dark tarp went up and closed off the entire park on June 15, while bulldozers ripped up the ground, rendering it a jagged bit of urban land.

Using yellow tape and strips of colourful clothing, the community artist immediately went to work, embroidering her outrage in huge letters on the webbing of the steel barrier facing her apartment on the 400 block of Cordova Street.

When the feisty resident spoke to the Georgia Straight on a recent Sunday morning, she was fixing a letter A in the slogan, which reads: “An offence against our neighbourhood.”

“This was completely not what we have talked about in the meetings that I went to,” Azrael said about the total closure of the park. “I expressed a lot of concern, and many other people did too, as to how that would disrupt the neighbourhood. This park is the heart of our community. This is our living room.”

At a cost of $2.3 million, the Vancouver park board is redeveloping the almost one-hectare park bounded on the west by Dunlevy Avenue and on the east by Jackson Avenue, with Cordova and Powell streets skirting its southern and northern sides, respectively. It will have new walkways, improved drainage, and a new field house that will be located at the Jackson Avenue side of the field.

Construction is expected to be completed on February 5 next year, just before the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games open. Until then, residents and regular visitors will have to do without Oppenheimer Park.

Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Sarah Blyth told the Straight in a phone interview that fencing the park is a “necessary inconvenience”.

If the park upgrade were done in phases, according to Blyth, the project might encounter delays and become more costly. “We want to see this project done in six months or as soon as possible so residents can start using it again,” she said.

Ann Livingston lives in a nearby building just west of Main Street, and she used to walk through the park with her son on the way to a nearby daycare centre.

“I go through it at 8:30 [a.m.], back through it at 9, back through it at 4 [p.m.], back through it at 5, and I would count the number of people in the park, and routinely in this month of the year there’s 200 people in the park,” Livingston told the Straight.

Livingston, a volunteer with the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, noted that the Downtown Eastside is the most park-poor area in the city, and the closure of Oppenheimer Park isn’t helping any.

Worse, according to Livingston, drug users who used to frequent the park are now turning up in alleys south of Hastings Street, potentially creating conflict with residents in the Strathcona community. This, she fears, may just invite intense police crackdowns.

It’s not only Oppenheimer Park that’s under construction, Livingston noted during a weekend walk through the Downtown Eastside. Pigeon Park, a 3,000-square-foot triangular paved plaza at the corner of West Hastings and Carrall streets that is a popular resting spot for locals, is also undergoing renovation. Construction signs have sprouted on various Hastings Street curbs to the west and east of Main Street.

According to Livingston, much of Hastings Street, a major corridor, will be repaved between Carrall Street and Clark Drive. “The whole neighbourhood is in a state of torn-up-ness,” she said.

Vancouver Green park commissioner Stuart Mackinnon acknowledged that some residents aren’t happy about the closure of Oppenheimer Park and wanted a phased redevelopment.

“I understand that the way it was designed, it has to be done all at once,” Mackinnon told the Straight. “It’s just the nature of the design. The park board has asked the city if they would close one of the streets beside the park and allow that to be used by the residents as a recreational area. But as far as I know, we haven’t heard back from the city.”

Mackinnon added that the situation is just unfortunate. “The construction industry is such that we have to be able to construct when they’re available. Summertime is the best time, of course, for construction. It’s one of these unfortunate things that when park redevelopment happens, parks generally have to be closed. We’re hoping that the residents will be happy with the redevelopment.”

Azrael claimed that not much is actually being done at the park. In the week before she talked with the Straight on July 5, she said, the only work that went on was that somebody came in to turn on earth-moving machinery and move some dirt back and forth.

It’s a “tactic” that’s hurting people, according to Azrael. “That is part of moving people,” she said. “This is social control.”
Source URL: http://www.straight.com/article-238653/neighbours-decry-oppenheimer-park-closure

23 July 2009

We "mean business", warns Vancouver park board chair Raj Hundal

By Matthew Burrows, Georgia Straight - Vancouver,British Columbia,Canada
Publish Date: July 23, 2009

Vision Vancouver park board chair Raj Hundal told the Straight that he’s putting the Vision Vancouver–controlled city council on notice after it withheld part of the board’s capital budget last month.

"We do have to work together with council, along with management, to look at ways of providing the services that are needed across the city of Vancouver," Hundal said during the July 20 board meeting. "But [we need to] be mindful that we will always push back, and to let the folks over at council know that we are independent, that we are elected."

Hundal added: "We do mean business at the park board."

The park board’s capital budget—this year totalling $66.6 million and approved by the electorate in November 2008—is normally allocated in the first year. On June 11, council voted to allocate only $30.4 million, which covers "planning" and initial funding for the renewal of Trout Lake Community Centre and buildings at VanDusen Botanical Garden, as well as the conversion of the Hillcrest curling venue after the Olympics.

On June 1, prior to council’s action, Vision commissioner Aaron Jasper moved a motion, which passed unanimously, demanding that the city provide the full $66.6 million. "I guess I look at this as, ‘We might have lost the battle, but we haven’t lost the war,’ " Jasper said to the Straighton July 20. "What sends a strong signal to city council is when you have a unanimous board, so I think we do have a backbone."

Green commissioner Stuart Mackinnon told the Straight that Jasper’s motion was "a step in the right direction", but said he still felt that council displayed "a lack of trust" in the park board, and that he would like to see "a stronger stance" taken to defend park-board interests. He acknowledged that not all projects have come in on time and on budget, but blamed that on factors beyond the board’s control, such as rising construction costs.

"I think we’ve always done our due diligence, and would wish that city council would show a continuing trust and support in us," Mackinnon said by phone.

Lone NPA commissioner Ian Robertson said he has developed a "respect" for Jasper, but believes a Vision-led council, along with city manager Penny Ballem, is "trying to muzzle the park board".

"You have to be able to stand up and say, ‘This is not good enough,’ " Robertson said. "I’m not seeing that type of backbone developing with this particular group, except of course for Aaron, who is beginning to understand that."

Vision councillor Raymond Louie, chair of the finance committee, did not return a call by Straight deadline.

21 July 2009

Vancouver park board approves Olympic RV parks despite residents' objections

By Matthew Burrows, Georgia Straight - Vancouver,British Columbia,Canada
Publish Date: July 21, 2009

The Vancouver park board has approved the establishment of temporary RV parks at Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks during the 2010 Olympics, despite opposition from area residents.

But Vision Vancouver commissioner Aaron Jasper has promised that, if the revenue projections don’t add up, the park board could “reconsider” its decision.

“If we sat down with staff, and we were working with the residents and we had all the numbers on the table, and it actually showed that this would be a loss to the park board, I think that would definitely make the park board reconsider,” Jasper said last night (July 20) in the foyer of the park-board office after the 4-1 vote, in response to a question from Point Grey resident Ardy Zia. “Our goal was that, even with a modest occupancy, that this would break even. The bonus would be extra revenues.”

The parking lots at the beaches will accommodate up to 365 RV sites between February 8 and March 2, 2010. Visitors will pay $95 per night per recreation vehicle, a price that will cover access to washrooms, showers, waste disposal, and a free shuttle.

At the meeting, Vision’s Jasper, Sarah Blyth, and board chair Raj Hundal, along with Non-Partisan Association commissioner Ian Robertson, voted in favour of all of the recommendations contained in park board revenue-services manager Philip Josephs’s report. The park board awarded the $134,832 contract for managing the RV parks to Duckworth Management Group Ltd.

Green commissioner Stuart Mackinnon severed the recommendations into a separate motions, saying he could not support the main recommendation to approve the temporary RV sites. The other recommendations passed unanimously.

“The most troubling for me is the commercialization of parkland,” Mackinnon said. “I have a fundamental and philosophical opposition to the commercialization of parkland and beaches.”

Coalition of Progressive Electors commissioner Loretta Woodcock and Vision’s Constance Barnes were absent from the meeting. Barnes is on a leave of absence.

At one point during the fractious meeting, Robertson told the crowd that he represented all of Vancouver’s residents and not just the few that had chosen to heckle and yell at almost every turn for close to an hour.

Frank Tyers of the North West Point Grey Home Owners’ Association claimed that no adequate “cost analysis” had been done that took into account the cost of a pumping station and a scenario where occupation was lower than predicted.

In the foyer, with questions coming at him thick and fast, Jasper fired back at Tyers: “I tell you sir, with all due respect, a half a million dollars revenue is a big deal to this board right now....It’s not BS.”

Tyers said, “It’s $700,000 [in projected revenues] if every space is rented, every minute....All of the expenses that you’ve put up there don’t include the pumping station.”

North West Marine Drive resident Tom Elliott was the most vocal critic, slamming commissioners for what he said was a disgusting display of “expediency and opportunism”.

Vancouver park board approves RV parking during Olympics

By David Karp, Vancouver Sun July 20, 2009

VANCOUVER — Recreational vehicles will be allowed to stay overnight in city parking lots at Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks during the Olympics, the Vancouver park board decided Monday night.

The board voted 4-1 to approve a staff recommendation to allow roughly 365 RVs to park for $95 per night, despite residents’ protests.

Green party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon was the lone opponent.

The city sent information about the proposal to 460 homes near the beaches, and received 23 e-mails, letters and phone calls opposing the move, with just three communications in favour.

“We were confident that the business case was a good one,” said Vision commissioner Aaron Jasper.

“The RVs are coming, and this is a way for us to do our part to help with the logistics of the Olympics, and to do this in a controlled way that has minimal impact to Vancouverites.”

The city will pay Duckworth Management Group Ltd. $134,832 to manage the sites.

According to the staff report, the only RV site close to downtown is the Capilano RV Park, which had a waiting list of more than 100 people as of February.

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