29 January 2012

Friends of the Bloedel Conservatory

I've been greatly honoured by being invited to join the Board of the Friends of the Bloedel Conservatory. You might recall that the last Park Board tried to close this jewel on the hill in an effort to cut the budget. With an incredible outpouring of public support and the help of Commissioner Ian Robertson and myself, the Friends were able to change the minds of the majority on the Board and save it.

One way we were able to do this was by partnering the Bloedel with the VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately the new Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) has still not been ratified by the Park Board and so the Bloedel is still under threat. You can help save the Bloedel by joining the Friends.

Joining the Friends of the Bloedel Association is the best way to stay informed about our merge with the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association and our ongoing efforts to help reinvigorate the Bloedel Conservatory. Annual membership is $20.

For those of you who have already renewed your membership for 2012, thank you for your support! Members in good standing will receive a free 1 year membership to the VanDusen Botanical Garden valued at $45 dollars (including free entrance to the Bloedel Conservatory), once the Operating Agreement is finalized.

Just click here to download the membership form. Simply fill it out (remember to include your email address) and mail it with your payment. Please make cheques payable to: Friends of the Bloedel Association and mail to:

Friends of the Bloedel
10-2295 West 40th Ave.
Vancouver, BC
V6M 1W7

Updates will be sent by e-mail as we continue to move forward with programs, events and volunteer opportunities to support this jewel at the pinnacle of Vancouver. Thanks very much for joining us in saving the Bloedel Conservatory for future generations.

25 January 2012

Civic Financial Reform

I applaud Andrea Reimer and Vision Vancouver for the motion to seek electoral financial reform in Vancouver. Of course this is really a matter for the provincial government through amendments to the Vancouver Charter, but they will only act on a request from the City. The Province has been very lax in its changes to modernize our charter and if they ever to do an overhaul we may be in for a dramatic change in the way we hold elections in the city.

In the meantime, if Vision Vancouver, the NPA, COPE, and any other civic party, wants to show they are serious about reform, they will make a commitment here and now that they will not accept any donations from business or labour, and will set a cap on the amount individuals can donate. They could also set voluntary spending limits. Adriane Carr of the Green Party has already made a commitment not to accept donations from non-individuals.

It is all well and good to petition the provincial government, but until the Province enacts legislation, it is little more that talk. Actions speak louder that words. Let's have a commitment now, before the legislation--if it ever happens--is enacted. Let's make sure the next civic election is when real electoral financial reform starts.

24 January 2012

More great news: Cllr Reimer calls for electoral finance reform

Vision Vancouver is calling for electoral-financing reform
Vancouver CKNW AM980
Gord MacDonald | Email news tips to gmacdonald@cknw.com

The governing party at Vancouver City Hall wants a ban on corporate and union donations in civic election campaigns. That and a number of other ideas to reform the local election system are in a motion being put forward by Vision Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer. As well, she wants more than just spending limits.

"The provincial government has, through that election taskforce, committed to putting in spending limits. But we have been asking for contribution limits and bans on contributions from non-individuals for quite a long time, and we're hoping that Premier Christy Clark, will consider expanding the legislation to include the spending as well as the contributions."

Reimer says the idea is to create a level playing field for all candidates and parties.

06 January 2012

Great News: Parks App for Mobile Phones

A news release today from the Park Board announces an app for iphone users to get information on individual parks. This is an initiative I spearheaded on the last Board. Joyce Courtney and her team have worked miracles to get this up and running. There are so many applications for this and I hope to see additions and improvements as time goes on. I hope to see an Android version soon as well.

New map app: Vancouver parks go mobile
People with iPhones, iPod touch and iPad can now more easily navigate their way around Vancouver’s parks following release of Vancouver Park Board’s new smart phone application or 'app'.

The free Vancouver Parks app provides a way for residents and tourists to find basic information about the City of Vancouver's park system. Developed as a companion to the city-wide parks map printed last year, the new app features the more than 200 city parks on a geographically displayed map and provides users with the option of using current location to find parks in the area, and create a list of “favourite” parks.

Each park has its own page which provides a list of its amenities and facilities, photos, and a way for park users to provide feedback and access Park Board Facebook and Twitter accounts while on the go.

The Vancouver Parks app can be downloaded directly from iTunes App Store (search “Vancouver Parks”) or click the link below to see it in the iTunes preview.

- 30 -
For more information contact Joyce Courtney Communications Manager, at (t) 604-257-8699 or (c) 604-861-4375.