23 February 2018

Park board approves Vancouver’s World Cup bid

/ Vancouver Courier
February 22, 2018 02:33 PM

The park board is on board with Vancouver’s bid to be a host city if the World Cup comes to North America in 2026.

Commissioners earlier this week unanimously approved a series of staff recommendations needed for Vancouver to be considered as one of the Canadian host cities if the united North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup is successful.

“This is kind of a big deal,” said Michelle Collens, the city’s manager of sport hosting, who outlined the process for commissioners.

Vancouver city council last week voted in favour of proceeding with the bid.
Last April, Canada, the United States and Mexico joined their respective soccer associations together to create the United Bid Committee in a push to host the World Cup in 2026. Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal were selected as potential host cities in Canada and another 25 cities in the U.S. and three in Mexico area also in the running to become host cities.

If the bid is successful, and Vancouver is chosen as a host city, soccer fans could expect three to five games to be played at B.C. Place Stadium, depending on how many host cities are in Canada. If two cities are chosen, then each would host five games. A total of 80 matches are played during the tournament — Canada and Mexico would host 10 each with the United States hosting the remaining 60 games. All the semi-final and final games would be played in U.S. cities.

If Vancouver is chosen as a host city, the park board would be responsible for providing training venues. For the purpose of the bid, the city must propose four options with the assumption that two would be chosen. Collens said that any costs associated with provided the training sites during the tournament would be recovered as part of the rental fee paid by FIFA.

Staff identified four potential sites — Memorial South, Trillium Fields, Empire Fields and Jericho Field. Collen said the training sites have to fulfill specific requirements including not being visible from any public or private buildings, available for exclusive use for 14 days before the tournament starts until the final game is played and the venues must be within a 20-minute drive of team accommodations.

“This is an incredibly exciting prospect,” board chair Green commissioner Stuart Mackinnon said ahead of the unanimous vote. “In 1986 we invited the world to come and look at Vancouver, in 2010 we showed the world just what Vancouver was and that we were a truly modern 21st-century city. In 2026 we’ll not only show the world how beautiful Vancouver is but that we can host a truly world-wide event.”

“It’s an exciting sport and I know the kids in the community are also really excited to see this kind of program or this kind of event in the city, and it’s just wonderful to offer them that opportunity to see such an amazing world event,” said NPA commissioner Casey Crawford.

The bid deadline is March 26. On June 13 FIFA will announce the winning bid however the official host cities won’t be announced until June 2020.

Morocco is the only competing bid.


22 February 2018

Meters Fees & Charges: Nobody likes them!

Last November, in the 2018 Park Board budget deliberations, seasonal parking fees were introduced at Spanish Banks beach. This is the last beach in Vancouver to have parking fees, and the community, not unexpectedly, reacted negatively. No one likes to pay for parking. Nobody likes additional charges. 

I get it. I dont like to pay either. But that fact is beaches, parks, and recreation cost money. According to a CUPE report from 2017, while 60% of infrastructure in Canada is in urban areas, only 12 cents of every dollar paid in taxes in Canada goes to municipal governments. Municipal governments build, maintain, and replace this infrastructure and yet dont have the ability to collect income related taxeswhich is why we pay property taxes. 

Unfortunately, for the Park Board, only 51% of the annual operating budget comes from municipal taxes; the remaining 49% comes from fees & charges (about 41%) and other revenue sources. So the Park Board must find sources for this gap. Year after year, ratepayers in Vancouver have said they would rather have increased user fees than increased property taxes.

Beautiful beaches, nice parks, and active recreational programs dont come for free. The 2018 Park Board Operating Budget consists of $122,805,851 in expenditures and transfers, which is funded by $63,256,313 of tax-based operating funds and $59,549,538 in revenues. The choice for Commissioners each year is do we ask City Council to raise taxes (which they may or may not do) to fund increased cost, or do we find new sources of revenue or increase the current ones.

This year staff recommended, and Commissioners voted, to increase fees in some locations and add an additional parking charge at Spanish Banks. 

Spanish Banks beach is a unique place and public transportation is limited. These beaches are popular partly because parking has been free until now. But has it really been free? Someone pays. Just as someone pays for lifeguards, the change-rooms, and beach maintenance. Nothing is really free.

After hearing from the public the Park Board made some changes to the program this week. Rather than the usual April 1st through September 30th period at most seasonal pay lots, Spanish Banks will see metered parking only between the May long weekend and the Labour Day long weekend. Charges will only come into effect at 9 am (rather than the usual 6 am) so that early morning walkers and dog runners will be able to park without charge. And a $87 seasonal parking pass (working out to about 80 cents/day) will be promoted.

No one runs for office on a platform of increased fees or taxes. No elected official likes to increase costs for constituents. But the fact remains: costs increase year over year. Park Board has no control over taxation and so it can either propose to cut services or increase fees. This year the Commissioners chose to increase fees. Next year we may have to choose to cut services, and I can guarantee, the outcry will be similar.