31 May 2011

A Walkable City

One of the great pleasures in my life is walking with my dog along the Fraser River, at Riverfront Park. There is a path that starts just east of the Knight Road bridge and follows the river to Boundary Road, where it becomes the riverside path that follows the river further along to Marshlands near the edge of New Westminster. I never tire of watching the working river, or looking for the beaver and the river otter that occasionally swim by. The scenery is magnificent, no matter what the season. Just up the hill off Kerr street is Everett Crowley park which sits on the old dump. Here trails meander around an area that has been left to regenerate naturally. Also in the neighbourhood is the Fraserview golf course with a fabulous perimeter path. On any of these paths it is easy to pretend you are out of the city and walking in a natural landscape.

Unfortunately not all areas of the city are conducive for walking. Also in my neighbourhood is Elliott st. From Marine Drive to near 54th ave, Elliott winds its way up a steep hill. There is neither a bus nor sidewalks along this part of the street. Pedestrians must take their life in their hands and walk along the roadway. Being very steep, most of the cars descending the hill go much faster than the posted limit. To this mix add a designated bicycle route along Elliott and you have a pedestrian fatality waiting to happen.

New bicycle routes are popping up throughout the city, yet we still have streets without sidewalks. I applaud the city for their emphasis on getting people out of their cars and into alternate transportation modes, but the most environmentally friendly mode for the vast majority of Vancouverites is walking. We need to do far more to make walking easier and more attractive. Most people will not ride bicycles, but they will walk given the opportunity.

The Park Board is doing its part to get people out of their cars and walking, but is the city doing its?

17 May 2011

Summer’s coming: beaches and beachside pools open, park rangers on duty beginning this weekend

Park Board News
May 17, 2011 | No. 20

Vancouver’s official start of summer is Saturday, May 21. That’s when beachside pools open, lifeguards are on duty at city beaches and park rangers begin their work in parks.
Seaside heated outdoor pools located at Kitsilano Beach Park, Second Beach in Stanley Park and New Brighton Park open Saturday, May 21 at 10 am. Check the pool schedules for operating hours.

Lifeguards patrol the Park Board's eleven bathing beaches from the Victoria Day weekend to Labour Day weekend daily from 11:30 am to 8:30 pm except when red light is on at the guard station. Almost 18 kilometres of ocean beach stretches from Spanish Bank West all the way around English Bay to Third Beach in Stanley Park. Trout Lake, located in John Hendry Park, is the only freshwater, lifeguarded beach in Vancouver.

A team of 30 seasonal park rangers act as the Park Board's ambassadors in Vancouver's 225 parks. Uniformed rangers help visitors with wayfinding, park services, monitoring of play fields, bylaw enforcement and park activities such as filming and special events.

Park and beach visitors are reminded that all beaches and parks are smoke-free. Dogs are not permitted on beaches and must be leashed in other areas (except in designated off-leash areas). Fires are not allowed in parks or on beaches at any time. Barbecue coal pits are provided for hot coals at many popular beach and picnic locations.
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General enquiries: 3-1-1 (within Vancouver) or 604-873-7000 (outside Vancouver)
Media enquiries: Barb Floden, Communications Coordinator, at (t) 604-257-8438 or (c) 604-992-5646

11 May 2011

Vancouver park board resurrects summer camps

By Sandra Thomas, Staff writer May 5, 2011

Seven Vancouver parks will see the return of summer day camp programs this year, albeit part time.

Vision Vancouver park board chair Aaron Jasper told the Courier he’s wanted to have the summer playground camps reinstated after the board cancelled the programs due to budget restraints last year.

Cancelling playground programs were some of the service cuts that came about as the result of a $1.9 million deficit in the park board’s 2010 operating budget approved by the Vision Vancouver commissioners on the board. NPA commissioner Ian Robertson, COPE’s Loretta Woodcock and the Green Party’s Stuart Mackinnon voted against the budget.

“As the result of budget deficiencies some tough decisions had to be made,” said Jasper. “But we weren’t insensitive to the concern of parents, so I made it a priority to find funds for these summer programs and asked staff to revisit the issue.”

Jasper said staff recently came to the board with an idea for the mobile playground program, which will rotate between seven community parks at a cost of $25,000. The seven parks that will offer part-time recreation programs this summer include Bobolink, Nanaimo, Falaise, Clinton, Garden, Burrardview and Balaclava. Parks adjacent to community centres that offer summer programs, such as Killarney, Renfrew and Riley Park, are excluded from the extra programming this year.

Jasper said the parks were chosen based on need and demand. Last year the park board reduced the summer playground program budget by $160,000. Jasper said the Vancouver School Board defines “need” in relation to children who attend inner-city schools. Last year’s budget cuts meant the end of 10 playground programs, while community centre associations at Douglas, West Point Grey and Jones parks paid for their own programs. Jasper noted last year the park board heard “limited” complaints from parents living near Burrardview, Clinton and Balaclava playgrounds about the lack of summer programs.

Jasper said the one-time only $25,000 will pay for staff for seven weeks between July 4 and August 19. Playground programs will be offered either Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday and Thursday, with suggested hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Two wading pools will re-open part time, but will need to be drained at the end of each day to comply with safety regulations.

Green Party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon said while he’s “thrilled” with the return of part-time summer programs, he noted under Vision Vancouver their funding has been cut by more than 50 per cent.

“In 2008 the budget was $302,000 for summer programs,” said Mackinnon. “In 2011 it’s $141,000.”

Mackinnon added the $25,000 dedicated to summer playground programs in 2011 is a one-time only deal that ends in August.

“And there’s an election in November,” said Mackinnon. “You don’t have to be too much of a cynic to see the connection.”


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