29 September 2009

Park Board Commissioner wants you to wash your hands

Press Release: 29 September 2009

Green Party Park Board Commissioner, Stuart Mackinnon, wants you to wash your hands. “Health care professionals say that hand washing is our best defence against the spread of infection” says Commissioner Mackinnon, “and public washrooms maintained by the Park Board are on the front line of that defence”. At the October 5th meeting of the Park Board, Commissioner Mackinnon will be putting forward a resolution that will ensure that soap and, where possible, hot water is available in as many Park Board amenities as possible. “Washing with soap and water was what our parents taught us to do—and it was good advice” commented Mackinnon.

“For many people, public washrooms are a necessity and the place where they will be able to wash their hands on a regular basis” continued Mackinnon. “The more we wash our hands, the less chance of the spread of infection.”

Families using playgrounds, sports players using fields, people just enjoying our parks and tourists sight-seeing all need places to wash their hands, says Mackinnon. Having soap and if possible, warm water, increases public health and makes everyone’s life a little better. “Why should anyone have to buy some fries to be able to wash their hands?” continues Mackinnon in a reference to having to use restaurants rather than public amenities, “soap and water should be available in public amenities.”

Commissioner Mackinnon’s motion will be debated on Monday, October 5th at the regular meeting of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation at the Park Board Office, 2099 Beach Avenue.

For more information, contact Commissioner Mackinnon at 778-389-1956 or e-mail to: stuart.mackinnon@vancouver.ca

18 September 2009

an independent Park Board

The e-mails and blogs have been flying fast and furious this week after Park Board General Manager Susan Mundick announced her retirement. I'm sure the cellular phone companies' profits will be up this month as well. Most of what has been written has been based on rumour, innuendo, leaked documents read without context, and speculation on what has gone on in meetings. Accusations have been made about who did what and when. None of this puts any part of our civic government in a good light and reinforces the negative view of politics and politicians in the public mind.

For the record, I believe in an independent Park Board that is accountable fiscally to the City, but politically to the citizens of Vancouver. The citizens elected me and the other Commissioners to oversee our parks and recreational facilities and it is to them that I answer to. If the citizens want to reexamine the role of the Park Board, I am prepared to engage in that conversation.

With so many problems challenging our city and so many opportunities to work in new and innovative ways, let's not squander our time on petty bickering and jousting for position. Let us all work together for better parks and a better city. It is what I ran for and believe I was elected to do. I intend to get on with the job.

And a little more on the Hollow Tree

Letter of the week
Vancouver Courier
Friday, September 18, 2009

To the editor:
Re: "Filmmaker branches out with Hollow Tree doc," Sept. 11

I've been following the fate of our famed Hollow Tree in Stanley Park and after reading Cheryl Rossi's article in last week's Courier I had to write in to suggest she may have spent more time and energy presenting the point of view of park board commissioner Stuart Mackinnon and less time backing Ontario native Dan Pierce who knew absolutely nothing about the tree and had never actually visited the tree until a short time ago. In the four short years Mr. Pierce has lived in Vancouver he'd never taken the time to go see the tree and now he's taken on this huge crusade to save her.

Save her from what? From naturally decomposing into our earth and sprouting new trees and bushes from her fallen trunk?

I've enjoyed that tree many times with my parents when I was young, and with my children as a parent and with friends who visit Vancouver. I can speak of the generations that have enjoyed it. Dan Pierce can't. He did his research on the tree on the Internet to try and understand its history and importance to our city.

And since all this started, we've had the unpleasant experience of having a little parking lot closed completely with ugly blue construction fencing while the workers slowly and methodically demoralize this tree with chains, cables and steel beams. It's truly sad to see her dignity being stripped away bit by bit as her lifeless carcass is suspended in a RoBo Tree state.

That tree has lived through many generations and I agree with Mackinnon that we should allow her to lie down in peace with her brothers and sisters in our magnificent park.

The ironic part of this is that only 100 yards away on the trail leading from that closed parking lot is the fallen trunk of the what was the oldest western cedar in Stanley Park that was once profiled by the National Geographic Society. It fell down less than two years ago and is a magnificent sight to see as it lays there split in two, providing life to many more forms of vegetation. Sadly, no one can park anywhere close to this trail now to take that short jaunt to go see it. Maybe Mr. Pierce will take that stroll in the next four years or so?

Ken Read,

© Vancouver Courier 2009

Outgoing park board manager proud of accomplishments

Susan Mundick leaves after 11 years on the job

Sandra Thomas
Vancouver Courier

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sitting in the dark wood panelled "commissioners' room" at the park board office on Beach Avenue Tuesday afternoon, Susan Mundick reminisces about the past 11 years she's spent as general manager of the board.

Mundick announced her retirement Tuesday, but will remain on the job for the next several months until a replacement can be found.

"I've worked with five boards," said Mundick. "And I feel good about what we've accomplished."

Mundick is most proud of the restoration of Stanley Park, two strategic plans for facility renewal and leveraging the 2010 Olympic Winter Games into huge legacy projects, such as the new Hillcrest community centre.

And what won't she miss?

"The late night rounds of meetings," said Mundick, who's worked in parks and recreation for 35 years, largely in Ontario. "I'm looking forward to having a halfway normal life."

Mundick said while the long meetings were often tiring, she appreciated that Vancouver residents were so passionate about their city and its parks, particularly when it came to subjects such as off-leash dogs, the expansion of the Vancouver Aquarium and budgets.

Suzanne Strutt, chief executive officer of the B.C. Recreation and Parks Association, said Mundick played an important role in parks and recreation provincially as well as at the municipal level. Mundick was president of the association from 2005 to 2006.

"She's taken a real leadership role, and not just that year but before and since," said Strutt. "She was instrumental in the complete restructuring of our governance and there was a real need for that."

Strutt calls Mundick "visionary" in her work provincially with parks and recreation and added she's able to get people of varying opinions to work collectively.

"Although Susan is very strategic and makes sure none of the details are overlooked, she never micro-managed," said Strutt, who notes she still intends to call Mundick for advice.

Mundick is not the only member of senior management at the park board to announce their departure in the past year, particularly since Vision Vancouver came to power after last November's municipal election. That lofty list includes maintenance supervisor of Stanley District Eric Meagher, manager of Stanley District Jim Lowden, park board supervisor of maintenance for Queen Elizabeth District Mike Mackintosh, director of parks and recreation for Vancouver East District Lori Mackay, communications coordinator Terri Clark, manager of the board's nursery Susan Graham and Al Regan, supervisor of the Children's Farmyard and Railway. At the city the list of recent departures of senior staff includes director of Olympic operations Dave Rudberg, city manager Judy Rogers, deputy city managers James Ridge and Jody Andrews, fire chief Ray Holdgate and the city's drug policy coordinator Donald MacPherson.

Mundick, who was reluctant to give her age, said that while she's retiring from the park board, she's looking forward to her "next adventure," which could include another job or travelling with her husband, a retired insurance claims manager.

Could Mundick's next "adventure" include writing for Hollywood?

"I'm going to apply to the producers of [the NBC comedy series] Parks and Recreation and see if they need a writer for the show," she said. "Have I got a lot of ideas for them."

On a more serious note, Mundick made a point to thank the various staff members, commissioners, community associations, mayors and councillors she's worked with in the past decade.

"I couldn't have done it without their support," she said.

One final question: what does she really think of the Hollow Tree?

"No comment," she replied, laughing.
© Vancouver Courier 2009

13 September 2009

District of North Vancouver invites comments on parks, open spaces

By Charlie Smith
Georgia Straight
September 13, 2009

The District of North Vancouver is home to some of the most spectacular parks in Metro Vancouver. The district has an incredible 140 kilometres of trails as well as some world-renowned mountain biking areas.

On September 28 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., the district is hosting an open house as part of a process to create a strategic plan for the park system through to 2020.

It will take place at the Lynn Valley Library Community Meeting Room (1277 Lynn Valley Road), and include interactive workshops to help establish key goals and create a common vision.

For more information, call DNV Parks at 604-990-3867.

Source URL: http://www.straight.com/article-256877/district-north-vancouver-invites-comments-parks-open-spaces

07 September 2009

When you have to go…

It’s a fact of life, perhaps one we don’t want to acknowledge, but we all have to go sometimes. We all try to go at home, but sometimes we can be caught short. For most of us this is an inconvenience, but for those who don’t have a home or for those who need to go frequently, this is a chronic problem. Public conveniences have been available since at least the time of the Roman Empire—in fact until recent times, public lavatories were all that was available except for the very rich. Towns and cities had public conveniences for the masses but over time a lot of them have been decommissioned and removed. Many cities are now rebuilding these.

Here in Vancouver we are fortunate to have several public washrooms installed by the city, and many more throughout the city in our public parks. A debate on the cost and necessity of these park facilities is coming before the Park Board in the next year, and I would like to know your views on these facilities. Do you think they are important? Should scarce public funds be used for public toilets? Every park can’t support a public washroom, so which ones should?

Let me know what you think. Write to me at: betterparks@gmail.com or drop a line to the Park Board.