29 September 2010

Future of Stanley Park's petting zoo land under debate

By Carlito Pablo

Park board commissioner Stuart Mackinnon doesn’t want the Vancouver Aquarium to get the land that will be vacated by the Children’s Farmyard at Stanley Park. Due to funding constraints, the park board is closing down the petting zoo on January 2, 2011.

The Green commissioner, who noted that he didn’t know whether the aquarium had expressed interest in the site, argues that it’s better to have the area returned to natural uses.

“I don’t think the aquarium should be expanding any further in Stanley Park for commercial ventures,” Mackinnon told the Straight in a phone interview.

The aquarium didn’t make a spokesperson available for an interview before deadline. According to its website, the tourist attraction, which features whales and other marine animals, occupies 9,000 square metres in Stanley Park.

Last December, the park board called for business plans to keep the farmyard open. A staff report dated September 10, 2010, stated that two expressions of interest were received. However, one was eventually withdrawn. The other didn’t demonstrate the required financial capability. Staff didn’t identify the two parties.

Peter Hamilton, founding director of the animal-rights group Lifeforce, claimed that the aquarium has shown an interest in the farmyard land.

“They had put in a proposal to use it, and the parks board wouldn’t tell us what the proposal was, so I have a freedom-of-information inquiry at city hall now,” Hamilton told the Straight by phone.

Like Mackinnon, Coalition of Progressive Electors park commissioner Loretta Woodcock said she didn’t know whether the aquarium was interested in the farmyard site. However, Woodcock told the Straight by phone that it “wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that the aquarium might take a look at that area”.

According to Vision Vancouver park commissioner Raj Hundal, the park board will issue another request for proposals for the petting-zoo site after the facility closes down early next year.

21 September 2010

Bloedel Conservatory Saved!

Park Board unanimously voted for the proposal from the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association and the Friends of Bloedel to jointly manage the Conservatory. Here is a video clip from Global News.

12 September 2010


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 12, 2010

Delay in removing the wharf is causing severe environmental damage to fish habitat

Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Park Board Commissioners Ian Robertson and Stuart Mackinnon are demanding that the Park Board take immediate action to remove the wharf at Jericho Beach. Information provided to the Park Board from Fisheries and Oceans Canada outlines that fish habitat and other marine life is being severely compromised due to toxic contaminants leeching into the water from old creosote pilings.

“This is another example of the Vision Vancouver Park Board caucus waffling on a decision by the previous park board to return the beach to a natural foreshore. Not only is taxpayer money being wasted but now we have a significant environmental problem”, says Park Board Commissioner Ian Robertson.

The Jericho Marginal Wharf, built in the 1930s, was once used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as a float plane base. It has been closed to the public since the summer of 2009 as it has been deemed a hazard due to age related structural problems.

Vancouver, being a coastal city, is blessed with a beautiful foreshore, but unfortunately much of it is not accessible to the public. Returning this area to its natural habitat will enhance the area, and create a haven for both people and nature” says Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon. “It’s time the Park Board moved on this”.

The previous Park Board voted in July 2008 to remove a significant portion of the wharf and return the beach to a natural state. Despite three previous public meetings and strong public support for returning the beach to a natural state, the Vision Vancouver Park Board caucus voted unanimously in March 2009 to rescind the previous Board’s decision.