31 December 2019

Happy New Year!

for better parks and a better city

wishing you all health, happiness, and love

23 December 2019

All the Best for the Holiday Season!

a group of people around each other

'Fierce and undaunted': Vancouver sex workers advocate Jamie Lee Hamilton dies at 64

Jamie Lee Hamilton had spirit and moxie. She was innovative, generous, funny, fierce and opinionated, and her death represents a great loss for Vancouver.

Those were among the words friends had for Hamilton, a longtime advocate for transgender and sex workers who died Monday at age 64.

David C. Jones, a Vancouver entertainer and writer, last saw Hamilton on Saturday, when she was baptized. He and a group of Hamilton’s other friends had filled her room at the Cottage Hospice, where she had been receiving care since Dec. 9, to sing Amazing Grace.

Hamilton was very weak that day and she could only speak in single words at a time rather than full sentences. What Jones told her then serves as a last goodbye between the two friends.

“I said you are an amazing person and you have done so much for the city and for me, and you’re a great friend and I love you.”

Contrast that with their first interaction, when Hamilton publicly criticized Jones over a stance he held on an issue. Hamilton held strong opinions, but she also had the ability to separate people from actions with which she disagreed. The two eventually became close friends, so close even that she allowed him to buy a trio of her outfits for use in a panto of Rumpelstiltskin.

Hamilton began to transition in 1969 so that she could live in the world as a woman, as friend Becki Ross put it, and she started to work in the sex industry as a teenager.

Ross, a sociology professor at the University of B.C., has known and worked with Hamilton since the mid-1990s, when she ran for Vancouver city council. It was the first of several political campaigns for Hamilton, who also ran for Vancouver park board and school board.

Hamilton was among the first to sound the alarm that a serial killer was preying on sex workers in Vancouver. She protested police inaction in 1998 when she dumped 67 pairs of stilettos on the steps of Vancouver City Hall to raise awareness about missing women.

“There were some individual police officers who were sympathetic,” Hamilton said of that period. “But the political opinion of the police department was obscene: That [the missing women] may have moved away and there was no proof of a serial killer.”

Hamilton established and operated Grandma’s House on Pandora Street as a safe haven in the Downtown Eastside for sex workers. But it was closed as a “common bawdy house” by police in 2000.

“That wasn’t the sole purpose of the house,” Hamilton told The Vancouver Sun that year, adding that it was also a refuge where prostitutes could get a meal, clothing and access to street nurses. “Obviously, the police have a different take on that.”

Robert Pickton was arrested two years later and charged with 27 counts of first-degree murder of women who had disappeared from the Downtown Eastside. He ultimately confided that he had killed 49 and he was convicted in 2007 of six counts of murder.

In 2016, Hamilton and Ross co-founded Canada’s first sex work memorial outside St. Paul’s Anglican Church, at the West End intersection of Jervis and Pendrell streets. The memorial, a retro lamp-post with a red bulb, honours sex workers in the neighbourhood who were forced out by city hall, police and the provincial government in the 1980s. Hamilton was among those who had been violently expelled from the area, Ross said.

Hamilton fought every day for decades for the decriminalization of sex work, and she spoke as a guest lecturer at UBC, the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University and Douglas College, Ross said.

Hamilton returned earlier this year to the West End to live before she entered the hospice in early December.

Ross last saw her friend on Dec. 12, when she was still in high spirits.

“I just did not know, and I don’t think anyone did, how compromised her body was, and how she just wouldn’t survive this, because she’d survived everything else,” Ross said through tears.

“To me, she was just always so fierce and undaunted and unflagging in her drive to live and to snatch every bit of meaning and pleasure and everything worthwhile out of life that she could.”


(c) 2019 Vancouver Sun

Postscript: Jamie Lee was a fierce defender of the independence of the Park Board and an advocate for neighbourhood services. She ran many times for Park Board Commissioner and will always be remembered as 'Queen of the Parks'. My condolences to JLHs family of friends. She will be missed and remembered. Stuart Mackinnon

14 December 2019

City urged not to use shooting to justify Oppenheimer 'decampment'

A Pivot Legal Society letter urges elected officials to "press pause" on using the incident to justify efforts to remove the tent city.

11 December 2019

Park board finally taking steps, carefully, to clear campers from Oppenheimer Park

The park board will engage a third-party group to assess the park's current state and continue working with park residents to seek housing.

10 December 2019

Park Board approves additional measures to support decampment plan for Oppenheimer Park, including a conditional injunction

Vancouver Park Board
News release
December 10, 2019

As winter temperatures continue to deteriorate conditions for people experiencing homelessness in Oppenheimer Park, the Park Board has directed staff to work with partners to meet a number of conditions to further the voluntary decampment plan, supported by an injunction once conditions are met.

Among the conditions sought by the Board, staff will engage a third party to conduct an independent assessment of the current situation in Oppenheimer Park to provide recommendations to enhance safety, provide support, and seek appropriate shelter for people in the park as part of the decampment plan. This work will be done with a commitment to the principles of reconciliation and in consultation with those in the park.

Park Board staff have also been directed to deepen existing partnerships between the City, BC Housing, and the Park Board.

The Board has instructed staff to revise the current bylaw, which precludes people from sheltering in parks, in order to bring the bylaw up to current standards, in accordance with other municipal models, and to meet legal precedent.

The Park Board has authorized the General Manager to seek an injunction once the conditions are met. 

“While we know this will take time, I am optimistic that we have developed a plan to improve conditions for people experiencing homelessness in Oppenheimer Park and to move toward a safe resolution to the current encampment in the park,” said Stuart Mackinnon, Park Board Chair. “The Board is committed to enacting a compassionate and holistic approach to this difficult and complicated challenge that touches everyone in our community.”

- 30 –

Media contact:
Vancouver Park Board

04 December 2019

Commissioner Mackinnon to attend National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6, 2019

DECEMBER 3, 2019
VANCOUVER BC - On December 6, 2019, Green Party Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon will attend a ceremony on the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in memory and protest of violence against women, organized by the Vancouver Women's Monument Committee. 
WHEN: December 6, 2019, 10:00 AM Ceremony, 10:30 AM Media Interviews 
WHAT: 30 years after the Montreal Massacre: Where are we now? A ceremony in memory and protest of violence against women, organized by the Vancouver Women's Monument Committee
WHERE: The Women’s Monument: Marker of Change, Thornton Park, Main St and Terminal Ave, Vancouver, BC
Mackinnon will be one of a number of speakers available in advance and onsite for media interviews including Indigenous activists, women’s advocacy groups and individuals, filmmakers, legal advocates, direct service workers, and more. Mackinnon will speak about the Park Board's partnership with the Women's Monument Committee.
- 30 -
More Information:
Women’s Monument Committee Media Advisor

30 November 2019

VanDusen Festival of Lights set to sparkle for 35th year

November 29 2019 

The enchanting VanDusen Festival of Lights (FOL) is set to sparkle for another holiday season starting tomorrow.

And tickets are selling fast.

More than a million lights will light up six hectares (15 acres) of VanDusen Botanical Garden until January 5 (closed December 25), 4 to 9:30pm.

Vancouver's premier holiday event

“Running for 35 years, VanDusen Festival of Lights is Vancouver’s premier and longest running holiday event. We really appreciate all the work that staff and volunteers put into FOL. The Garden looks like something out of a fairy tale and it’s the perfect way to ring in the holiday season.” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

FOL is partnering with Make-A-Wish Foundation for the 19th consecutive year. Eight-year-old Cameron from Surrey was selected as the honorary Make-A-Wish child to officially flick the switch and light up VanDusen Garden.

Wish granted for Cameron

"Cameron's battle with a brain tumour has been a difficult time in his life. Through his granted wish to visit Walt Disney World in Florida, Cameron, his brother and parents were able to experience some real joy away from doctors, hospitals and medical appointments,” said Ross Hetherington, CEO, Make-A-Wish BC & Yukon.

Cameron’s mother Shannon Bulger said: "We loved every second of every day and while we came back exhausted, we made so many awesome family memories and felt so very blessed by the experience. It was magical and so special."

Donations in the Garden’s candle grotto and sales of glow star necklaces have raised more than $523,000 for Make-A-Wish since 2001. Last year, $48,434 was raised – enough to grant the wishes of four children living with life-threatening medical conditions.

FOL includes the Dancing Lights show on Livingstone Lake, fireside lounge, Make-A-Wish candle grotto, selfies with Santa, and beautifully lit carousel.

New this year

New this year is the chocolate fondue tent, hummingbird and wooden owl sculptures, and a pop-up Portobello West Winter Wonderland Market from December 16 to 23. The fireside lounge has been expanded in a new location close to the Rose Garden. All FOL activities are included with admission.

Visitors can get a free photo with Santa November 30 to December 24 and enjoy live musical performances in Santa’s Lodge on select nights. A wide selection of food trucks, including Japadog, Cin City Donuts, TLC Grilled Cheese & Poutine, Reel Mac and Cheese, Chickpea, and Potato Tornado, along with Shaughnessy Restaurant and Truffles CafĂ©, will be on site.

Buy tickets online to save and secure a spot

Free ticket to Festivale Tropicale

All FOL visitors will receive a free ticket to Festivale Tropicale, the Bloedel Conservatory’s unique tropically-themed indoor holiday event, which runs December 7 to January 5 (closed December 25). Find more information

VanDusen Botanical Garden, located in the heart of Vancouver, spans across 22 hectares (55 acres) with more than 7,500 unique species and varieties of plants arranged in 50 distinct collections. The Garden is jointly operated by the Vancouver Park Board and Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association.

25 November 2019

City releases draft 2020 budget ahead of December 3 special Council meeting

November 25 2019 

The City of Vancouver has published its Draft 2020 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan, to be considered by City Council at a special Council meeting on December 3.

The draft operating budget is structured in three categories of funding for Council to consider:
  • Fixed costs – funding required to maintain City services at present levels e.g. estimated impacts of future collective agreements and increases in rent, insurance, etc.
  • Filling service gaps and addressing risks – including the addition of more police officers and fire fighters, improvements to the building permitting process, and addressing compliance-related items (e.g. WorkSafe, health and safety).
  • Investments to advance Council’s priorities – initiatives such as more affordable and social housing, investments in arts and culture, addressing the climate emergency, and a new city-wide planning process (the Vancouver Plan).
The draft capital budget includes new 2020 investments in City infrastructure and amenities that were approved as part of the 2019-2022 Capital Plan.

Council has the opportunity to deliberate on the draft budget and to propose changes in each category, considering the balance of maintaining quality core services while also making advancements on the most important issues in our city.

Draft 2020 Budget priorities

 In developing the draft budget, City staff worked to align ongoing activities and new initiatives to a set of priorities that were approved by Council in July as part of the Budget Outlook:
  • Deliver quality, core services that meet residents’ needs
  • Address affordability and the housing crisis
  • Protect and build our economy
  • Increase focus on diversity and critical social issues
  • Accelerate action on climate change
Should Council approve all of the items in the draft budget, the total tax increase for 2020 would amount to an additional $150 for the median residential property (roughly $12 per month) and $270 for the median business property which would be equivalent to an 8.2 per cent property tax increase.

Property taxes are tied to assessed property value, which is set by BC Assessment. The final property taxes and fees for 2020 will be set once a final budget is approved by Council following their December 10 meeting.

How you can get involved

The City is offering an online, interactive session for the public on Thursday, November 28 from 11:30am to 12:30pm, during which highlights of the Draft 2020 Budget will be presented and City staff will answer questions submitted live online.

More information and the link to set up a reminder for the webinar is available on the City’s website at vancouver.ca/vanbudget2020. Registration is not required but a Facebook account is required to submit a question.

The Draft 2020 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan  for Council consideration is available now on the City’s web site, along with a nine-page summary.

To register to speak at the special Council meeting on December 3, follow the directions on the City website. Residents can also submit questions or comments to Mayor and Council via the website. Property owners can also find details on the website about land assessment averaging.

Over the past 10 years, the average annual property tax increase in Vancouver has been below the average for Metro Vancouver municipalities, and the 2019 combined property tax and utility fees for a median single-family home in Vancouver were also below the average of other Metro Vancouver municipalities.

Original posting here

13 November 2019

City-wide street leaf removal begins this week

Look out for temporary “no stopping” signs

November 13 2019 

With much of our tree canopy now bare, City crews will begin to sweep and clear leaves from streets starting this week.

Residents are asked to do their part by complying with all temporary “no-stopping” signs that will be posted the day in advance of cleaning activities.

If temporary “no-stopping” signs are posted, residents are required to move their vehicle(s) to another spot before 7 am on the date indicated on the signs. It is very important that vehicles are moved as it allows our crews to do a much better job of clearing all of the leaves from the street.

Vehicles that are not moved will be ticketed and will receive a courtesy tow to a nearby location.

Vehicles with a SPARC permit will be returned to the same location once the street cleaning is completed.


Street cleaning schedule

Crews will begin their work Downtown and proceed south. Advance sweeping may occur on streets with a higher volume of leaves.

View a map and schedule of street cleaning activities

Street cleaning dates shown on the map are a guideline only. The schedule can change as a result of weather, road conditions, and available trucks and crews.

Residents are reminded not to rake or blow leaves onto the sidewalk, catch basin, bike lane or street. Leaves in the street create a safety hazard for pedestrians and cyclists and can cause flooding.

Depositing leaves in the street is prohibited under the Street and Traffic By-Law.


Leaf collection weekends continue

Residents are encouraged to rake leaves that fall on their property, the sidewalk, and boulevard and add them to their Green Bin.

Extra leaves that do not fit in residents’ Green Bins may be placed in paper yard waste bags or store-bought bins and set out for pickup on the following leaf collection weekends:
  • November 16 to 17  
  • December 14 to 15
  • January 11 to 12, 2020 (Christmas trees will also be collected)
Leaves set out in plastic bags will not be collected, including bags labelled as compostable or biodegradable plastic.

To avoid a missed pickup, residents should set their leaves out before 7 am on the scheduled Saturday. Residents’ leaves will be collected on Saturday or Sunday, but not both days. Green Bins will not be emptied on leaf collection weekends.

Find helpful guidelines on the City's fall leaf program

Residents can get collection reminders by downloading the City’s VanCollect app on their smartphone.


What happens to the leaves? 

Leaves collected from City streets and during leaf collection weekends are turned into nutrient-rich compost at the Vancouver Landfill.

This compost can be purchased by residential gardeners, commercial landscapers, and municipal park boards. Leaves and other yard trimmings can also be dropped off for a fee at the Vancouver South Transfer Station located at 377 West Kent Ave North and at the Vancouver Landfill located at 5400 72 Street in Delta.

06 November 2019

City and Park Board prepare for winter weather, encourage residents to do the same

November 6 2019

As the seasons shift, the City of Vancouver is preparing for its winter weather response and is encouraging residents to take time to do the same.

This year we are continuing to make improvements to our snow routing system, as well as investing in new equipment. We’re replacing components of the fleet that is no longer reliable, due to age and heavy use. This includes two multi-purpose vehicles to support clearing of pedestrian paths, as well as seven trucks to support road clearing. And as of earlier this year, the City’s entire on-road fleet of vehicles switched to using 100% renewable diesel, including our snow fleet.

In total, the City has 71 vehicles outfitted for snow and ice response, a salt supply of 10,000 tonnes and hundreds of personnel available as required.

“At the City, we operate 24 hours a day. By working with a meteorologist to give us specific weather reports for Vancouver, we are able to staff up when we get notice that the weather is changing,” says Cheryl Nelms, Acting General Manager of Engineering Services.

“When it snows, our priority is ensuring main arterials and bus routes are kept clear, to keep streets safe for all users. We are also extremely grateful to the residents who have recently joined our Adopt a Catch Basin and Snow Angels programs to be part of a quick and timely response when the weather changes.”

The City also works closely with Vancouver Park Board to ensure their operations teams are coordinated and supported.

“Many of our John Deere mowers and trucks will once again be equipped with snow plows and salt spreaders so our staff can easily remove snow from sidewalks, paths, the seawall, and parking lots providing safe access to our venues,” says Amit Gandha, Manager of Park Operations, Vancouver Park Board. “We’re committed to clearing snow and ice in a timely manner with a focus on priority areas such as community centres and destination parks.”

“We’re committed to clearing snow and ice in a timely manner with a focus on priority areas such as community centres and destination parks.”

How we prepare for fall and winter weather

The City works with a meteorologist for tailored Vancouver-specific weather predictions, and in addition to doing maintenance throughout the year, has staff available 24 hours a day to respond to weather events.


Throughout the fall season, the City sweeps and clears leaves from streets and provides additional leaf pick-up days to help clear away and then compost fallen leaves. Residents are asked to abide by the temporary no-parking signs to facilitate leaf clean-up by city crews throughout the month of November.

Prior to heavy rain, the City proactively clears catch basins known to be prone to flooding and notifies Adopt a Catch Basin volunteers to encourage them to clear their catch basins.

Residents can use the VanConnect App to report flooding and any other street maintenance issues. Emergency issues must be phoned in to 311. Learn more about seasonal leaf collection


The City has a comprehensive snow response plan built into its operational procedures.

When snow or freezing temperatures are predicted, the City ensures that arterial streets are salted, brined, or plowed depending on the conditions. In 2017, the City also expanded coverage locations, increased salt availability, and developed a three-tiered service response time system.
Learn more about the city's snow response

What you can do to prepare for winter

Prepare your snow gear early. Make sure you have the following items before temperatures drop:
  • Shovels
  • Snow boots
  • Winter tires
  • Salt 


Get winter tires

If you plan to drive on snow days during the winter, be sure you install tires with the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol OR the mud and snow symbol, with at least 3.5 mm tread. The Province of BC requires these tires on provincial highways during the season.


Move your car

City crews plow major roads and bus routes. By moving your car to a side street or garage when snow is predicted or after it snows, crews can better clear arterials for all users.


Avoid driving if you can

Check transit schedules for commuting alternatives.


Know your obligations

Raking or blowing leaves into the street is a finable offence up to $10,000.
Learn more about how the City supports leaf cleaning 

All property owners and occupants must clear snow and ice from sidewalks around their property by 10 am the morning after a snowfall, seven days a week.

If you are unable to clear your walk and have no other alternatives, you are encouraged to sign up for the Snow Angel Program to be connected to a volunteer.

Failure to remove snow and ice create a danger to pedestrians and may result in fines.


Programs that support you in getting involved and helping your neighbours

The City supports a number of volunteer opportunities that help to facilitate residents in making our city a great, vibrant, and connected community. These low-barrier programs are popular with families and residents looking for flexible opportunities that connect them with neighbours and their neighbourhood.


Adopt a Catch Basin Program

What do “Grate Expectations” “Live Inlet Die” and “Kevin Basin” have in common? They are all the names of catch basins adopted throughout Vancouver.

With over 45,000 catch basins in the city, residents help clearing leaves or snow from catch basins in advance of rain to dramatically reduce neighbourhood flooding.
Adopt a Catch Basin


Snow Angel Program 

Snow and ice on the sidewalk can be a barrier for many people, particularly low-income seniors and people with mobility challenges who can’t afford to hire help. The Snow Angel program helps match volunteers with seniors and people with mobility issues to help clear their sidewalks following a snowfall event.
Sign up to be a snow angel

original post here

29 October 2019

VanSplash strategy charts course for new and renewed pools and aquatic innovation over next 25 years

Last night the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation unanimously passed our aquatics plan for the next 25 years. The plan will guide the vision of public aquatics assests in Vancouver for the next 25 years.

You can view my final remarks before the vote here: http://bit.ly/34bmqDV 

Here is the official release from the Park Board:

October 29 2019 – 

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has approved the VanSplash: Vancouver Aquatics Strategy. The strategy lays out an ambitious 25-year vision for the future of aquatics through a city-wide planning approach. It makes the case for the significant capital investment needed to deliver new pools for Vancouverites.

Vancouver needs more pools

VanSplash recommendations respond directly to the call heard during an extensive public engagement process: “Vancouver needs more pools.”

“We heard loud and clear that Vancouver needs more pools and the vision of building communities of aquatics users for a lifetime,” said Stuart Mackinnon, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board. “With the approval of VanSplash, the Park Board can move forward with the planning and funding of an expanded system of pools, beaches and spray parks across Vancouver.” 

VanSplash proposes a city-wide approach to planning future pools and other aquatic amenities and innovations. A key recommendation emphasizes the need for a mix of pool sizes and experiences, with pools categorized as small, medium, or large, and to ensure the qualitative experiences of pool users are reflected in the design of all future pools, regardless of their size.

Key outcomes

Key immediate outcomes of the strategy include a new outdoor pool in South Vancouver, a renewed pool at Britannia Community Centre, and recommends conducting a feasibility studies for a naturally filtered swimming pool and a facility capable of hosting sport training and competition aquatics, something currently missing within Vancouver’s city limits. Comprehensive engagement plans will be launched ahead of any new or renewed aquatic facility to gather community feedback.

Engagement process

VanSplash was the result of more than three years of public engagement. During the engagement process in 2017 and 2018, staff heard from more than 7,000 residents at open houses, meetings, and through surveys. A draft report was presented to the Park Board in 2017.

During the final phase of engagement a city-wide advisory group was established to review draft recommendations and provide insights to staff. The advisory group, made up of 19 citizens representing a variety of demographics and aquatic experiences, met 10 times and presented their review and further recommendations to the Board in July 2019. Staff then integrated the majority of the advisory group’s findings into the revised VanSplash strategy.

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation operates and maintains the largest public aquatic system in the province with nine indoor pools, five outdoor pools, and nearly 18 km of beaches. The Park Board also stewards a network of more than 240 parks and a large public recreation system of community centres, sports fields, golf courses, and street trees. Its mission is to provide, preserve, and advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit all people, communities, and the environment.

see original here