28 June 2011

Neighbourhood Flower Gardens: UPDATE

The Park Board passed unanimously my motion to allow neighbourhood groups to plant flowers in unused public spaces. With a slight tweak to the costing sources, all commissioners spoke in favour of the motion. My thanks to all the folks who spoke wrote and otherwise supported this initiative. Thanks also to the COPE, Vision and NPA commissioners who saw the value in this.

Also at last night's meeting, motions on using underused indoor and outdoor park spaces for community groups passed, as well as support for childcare. Last night was an example of how a Board of disparate groups can work together for the common good. let's hope this spirit can continue.

23 June 2011

Rooting for a plan to reclaim the land

Commissioner aiming to convert unused parts of the city into useful gardens

Small, unused and neglected bits of the Vancouver landscape could get turned into flower or vegetable gardens if a motion by Green Party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon gets approved at the next Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation meeting.

Mackinnon has a motion before the board Monday asking staff to identify underutilized public spaces such as boulevards or verges.

He wants those spaces, many of which are not regularly groomed because of parks board cutbacks, to be turned over to neighbourhood groups for beautification.

Most of the spaces probably aren't big enough for vegetables, but Mackinnon hopes to see patches of flowers instead of weeds, invasive plants and blackberry bushes.

"I'd love to make Vancouver a more beautiful city," said Mackinnon.

He got the idea from a neighbour in his community who cut down the weeds bordering a path running along some railway tracks and replaced it with flowers.

MacKinnon doesn't know how much unused space is available.

"That's what we need to find out," he said.

The Cambie Heritage Boulevard already has a defined use, but the boulevard on King Edward Avenue is a possible spot for Mackinnon's motion.

"I can't see why we wouldn't want to do this," said Mackinnon, whose proposal wouldn't require funding beyond some possible initial clearing.

"This is not land that's being used," he added. "It would get people in the community involved."



20 June 2011

What Are the Bees Telling Us?

Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?

A documentary on the global honeybee crisis coming to Vancouver June 24-30@ Denman Cinema: 1779 Comox Street - find out how you can help bees!

Bees are losing habitat all around the world due to intensive monoculture-based farming practices, pristine green (but flower-barren) sprawling suburban lawns and from the destruction of native landscapes. Just planting flowers in your garden, yard, or in a planter will help provide bees with forage.

My motion (see blog entry below) supporting community flower gardens on public verges, boulevards and empty lots will help the bees. Please support my motion by writing to the Park Board (pbcomment@vancouver.ca) or sign up to speak to the Board.

14 June 2011

A Splash of Colour for Every Neighbourhood

In my neighbourhood the Park Board used to cut the verge along the railroad tracks 4-5 times a year. This has been reduced over the past few years to the point where I don't think it will be cut at all this year. This would be in-keeping with the cuts to the Parks budget for maintenance. What used to be a neat trim grassed area has become a tall weed and invasive species area growing rampant so that in some areas you can't even see the train as it passes by.

One of my neighbours took it upon themselves to clear up a portion of this area a couple of years ago and plant a beautiful flower garden. Now, instead of the tall unkempt weeded areas found elsewhere along the path, we have a beautiful blooming festival of colours and shapes.

I wondered why we couldn't do this in every neighbourhood. In most areas of the city you can find empty lots owned by the city, or boulevards, verges and little unused spaces that would be just right for someone or group to use to plant flowers . The Vancouver Public Spaces Network does guerrilla gardening in some of these areas but many more remain empty and unused. Now that the Park Board is no longer going to do even rudimentary cutting in many areas, I think this is the right time for local people to use this land to plant neighbourhood gardens.

With that in mind, at the next Board meeting on June 27th I will be presenting the following motion:

Whereas there is a need within the City of Vancouver for citizens to fully enjoy public lands;

And whereas there are public spaces within the City that are not being used for useful purposes including verges, boulevards and empty lots;

And whereas the Park Board budget for maintaining these spaces has been reduced and a policy of naturalization of these spaces been adopted;

Be it resolved that the Park Board work with the City and its unions to identify underutilized public verges, boulevards and other spaces not already used as parkland, to partner with neighbourhood groups to use this land for neighbourhood gardens. And be it further resolved that the Park Board assist neighbourhood groups in the clearing of this land in preparation of the gardens.