30 September 2011

Parks and recreation must be open to all in Vancouver

Vancouver’s natural beauty is worth protecting. Our children not only need places to play, but also places to enjoy and explore nature. We all need places of tranquil refuge from our busy lives. People and nature in balance is my vision for Vancouver’s parks.

Parks should be available for all to enjoy and should not be exclusive to any one group. Parks and community centres are the life-blood of any city. They are where we meet to play, to learn, and to socialize. We must continually re-examine recreation policies to ensure fairness and equal access. We must ensure facilities are available in every neighbourhood.

We are so blessed to live in the natural splendour of Vancouver. However, with recent budgetary constraints our parks have been under threat from neglect due to the lack of proper funding. In 2008 I was honoured to be elected as a park board commissioner and since then have worked to be your voice for parks and recreation in Vancouver. During my term, I have advocated for a management plan for Stanley Park and the return of Hastings Park to the community. I have worked to keep neighbourhood services open, to save the Bloedel Conservatory, and to keep recreational fees reasonable and fair.

I would like the opportunity to continue advocating for parks and services that are important to you and your family. If re-elected, I intend to continuing working towards:

Improving parks and recreation accessibility

Recreational facilities must be open to all. We must re-examine the recreational fees charged to ensure fairness and equal access. Our parks are the refuges of the city for people and wildlife. Our parks are not only places of recreation but also of meditation, and where children can learn about their natural environment. We must preserve and promote them as green spaces.

Ensuring maintenance and safety of our facilities

Our aging infrastructure is quickly deteriorating. Community centre renewal for the Hastings, West Point Grey, and Kerrisdale neighbourhoods is long overdue, yet there is no money in the capital plan to address these needs. Kerrisdale pool and arena are near breaking point and must be either replaced or closed soon. Marpole, which is on the capital plan, has only half the funding necessary, meaning that it will not be replaced during the next term.

Strengthening communication and relationship between park board and unionized staff

Our unionized workers in the parks system have a vested interest in promoting and preserving the parks of our city and should play an active role in their management. This next term will see the renegotiation of a collective agreement, which must be done in a fair and respectful manner.

On November 19, I hope you will vote for natural spaces, renewed facilities, and a parks and recreation system for everyone. People and nature in balance is the Green Party of Vancouver’s vision for our parks and recreation system. I hope it is yours as well. On November 19 please vote to re-elect Stuart Mackinnon.

Stuart Mackinnon is seeking re-election as a Green commissioner on the Vancouver park board.

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