26 April 2019

Watch great blue herons defend nests from eagle attacks with Vancouver park board's Heron Cam

by Martin Dunphy on April 25th, 2019 The Georgia Straight

For the fifth year, the Vancouver park board has made a high-definition camera feed available to the public to peek into the nests of one of North America's largest urban great blue heron colonies.

The great blue heron is our continent's largest (up to more than one metre tall) wading bird, and our local subspecies, the Pacific great blue heron, has been returning to the large breeding colony behind the park board offices in Stanley Park (2099 Beach Avenue) for 19 years.

The local variant has been deemed a species at risk in Canada.

Records show that the herons have been nesting in the park for about a century, at least since the early 1920s, and an earlier colony's large twig-and-branch nests, now abandoned, once occupied trees near the Vancouver Aquarium and the former park zoo. Theories for abandonment range from construction noise to bald-eagle predation of eggs and chicks.

The herons also constructed nests near Brockton Point and Beaver Lake, according to a City of Vancouver online history of the park colony.

In its 2018 Stanley Park Heronry Report, the Stanley Park Ecology Society reported that volunteers counted 104 tree nests in the colony area (which stretches from behind the park-board headqurters to the tennis-courts surroundings), with 85 of those nests deemed active. (Go here to download a PDF of the report at the bottom of the page, as well as to access instructions on how to manipulate the Heron Cam remotely.)

Society observers reported "daily eagle attacks" early in the 2018 nesting season, which starts at about the middle of March. The raids stopped after about a month, only to resume when the chicks had hatched. Only two active eagle nests were observed in the park last year.
A March 20 park-board release noted that more than 180,000 people have used the Heron Cam since its launch in 2015. "It’s amazing to be able to get a birds eye view of  the nesting, courtship, mating, nest-building, and egg-laying of these magnificent birds,” Stuart Mackinnon, park-board chair, said in the release. “Heron Cam supports engagement by residents with nature in the city as part of our Biodiversity Strategy and Vancouver Bird Strategy and enables our partner the Stanley Park Ecology Society to better monitor and protect the health of the colony.”

This year, according to the release, herons returned to the nesting area on March 11. As well, it notes: "One-third of Great Blue Herons worldwide live around the Salish Sea and the Stanley Park colony is a vital part of the [B.C.] south coast heron population."

Stanley Park Ecology Society representatives will answer questions during a live Facebook Q&A hosted by the board (date to come), and society volunteers will host on-the-ground weekly interpretive sessions in the park for visitors. The society also conducts an "adopt a nest" fundraiser to support its work with the herons.

The annual nesting season ends in August, when most chicks will have left the nests. About 100 fledglings were counted in 2018, which was an increase in numbers from the previous year.
You can view a detailed society timeline of the herons' arrival, breeding, and nesting here.

(c) 2019 Straight.com

16 April 2019

City Council and Park Board meetings to be streamed via a new platform

April 12 2019 – 
 From April 15 onwards, City Council and Park Board meetings will be broadcast using a new live video streaming system.

Earlier this month, we were notified that NeuLion, the previous video streaming provider, would be withdrawing their provision of the Civic NeuLion platform that we use for Council and Park Board meetings.

We have implemented an interim solution to ensure you can still watch meetings online:

Finding past meetings

All videos of the current Council and Park Board meetings (since November 5, 2018) will be made available on the City's YouTube account .

The full archive of historical meetings will not be available immediately but we will be migrating archived footage to the new streaming service as soon as possible.

View meeting progress on Twitter

 As well as watching the live stream of online, residents can also follow the progress of meetings by following the Twitter accounts:

Cannabis in Vancouver parks

I am asked frequently why the Park Board doesn't just issue the 420 organizers a permit. Printed below is the Province of British Columbia's regulation controls on cannabis. As you can see provincial regulations do not allow cannabis to be smoked in parks. This along with the Park Bylaw prohibiting smoking prevents the Park Board from issuing a permit.

 From the Province of British Columbia's Public Safety website:

The federal government legalized non-medical cannabis on October 17, 2018.
With public health and safety top of mind, the Province passed legislation to provide for legal, controlled access to non-medical cannabis in British Columbia. The following regulatory decisions are included in the legislation and amendments:

Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA)

The Cannabis Control and Licensing Act is guided by the Province’s priorities of protecting children and youth, promoting health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis, keeping B.C. roads safe, and supporting economic development.

The Act:
  • Sets 19 as the provincial minimum age to purchase sell or consume cannabis;
  • Allows adults to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in a public place;
  • Prohibits cannabis smoking and vaping everywhere tobacco smoking and vaping are prohibited, as well as at playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks, and other places where children commonly gather;
  • Prohibits the use of cannabis on school properties and in vehicles;
  • Authorizes adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, but the plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property, and home cultivation will be banned in homes used as day-cares;
  • Establishes a cannabis retail licensing regime similar to the current licensing regime for liquor;
  • Provides enforcement authority to deal with illegal sales;
  • Creates a number of provincial cannabis offences which may result in a fine ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, imprisonment of three to 12 months, or both; and
  • Where necessary, to comply with Charter Rights and human rights law, exemptions will provide to individuals who are federally authorized to purchase, possess and consume medical cannabis.

The CCLA also includes consequential amendments to various statutes, including:
  • Liquor Control and Licensing Act to ensure administrative consistency between that Act and the CCLA;
  • Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act to prohibit cannabis smoking under existing leases that prohibit smoking tobacco and to prohibit the personal cultivation of cannabis under existing leases, except for federally authorized medical cannabis. For new leases, the existing provisions of each Act that allow landlords and tenants to negotiate the terms of leases will apply;
  • Police Act to set provincial priorities for policing and require municipal police boards to take provincial priorities and the priorities of the municipal council into account as they develop their own priorities;
  • Community Safety Act to reflect that with legalization cannabis will no longer be a controlled substance under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act;
  • Provincial Sales Tax Act to add a reference to cannabis in the definition of “small seller” consistent with liquor; and
  • Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act to recognize that the CCLA is a complete licensing scheme.


Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA)

As previously announced, the Province has decided that the Liquor Distribution Branch will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C. and will run provincial cannabis retail stores.
The Cannabis Distribution Act establishes:
  • A public wholesale distribution monopoly; and
  • Public (government-run) retail sales, both in stores and online.

Motor Vehicle Act amendments

B.C. has increased training for law enforcement and has toughened provincial regulations by amending the Motor Vehicle Act to give police more tools to remove drug-impaired drivers from the road and deter drug-affected driving, including:
  • A new 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition (ADP) for any driver whom police reasonably believe operated a motor vehicle while affected by a drug or by a combination of a drug and alcohol, based on analysis of a bodily substance or an evaluation by a specially trained police drug recognition expert (DRE); and,
  • New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) will be subject to a zero-tolerance restriction for the presence of THC (the psycho active ingredient in cannabis).

Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch

  • The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) will be responsible for licensing non-medical cannabis private stores and monitoring the non-medical cannabis retail sector. Visit LCRB’s non-medical cannabis retail licence page for information about becoming a non-medical cannabis retailer in B.C., as well as information updates.

Liquor Distribution Branch Updates

The Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will be B.C.’s wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis.  Visit LDB's cannabis updates page for further information.

12 April 2019

Vancouver park commissioner Dave Demers wants staff to examine optimal uses of land now set aside for golf courses

by Charlie Smith on April 9th, 2019 Straight.com

Some folks are incredibly passionate about using a golf club to whack a small ball around huge swaths of publicly owned land in Vancouver.

These recreational golfers enjoy the camaraderie, competition, and peace of mind that come from this activity.

But is this the optimal use of 15 percent of municipally controlled park land in the city?

Especially when the number of golfers using Langara, Fraserview, and McCleery golf courses has declined by nearly a third since the late 1990s, even as the city's population has risen by 20 percent?
Green commissioner Dave Demers hopes park board staff can address these questions in what he calls a "deep dive analysis".

Demers has prepared a motion for the Monday (April 15) meeting seeking commissioners' support to direct staff to evaluate "the full spectrum of realized and unrealized benefits of Park Board land currently used for golf".

The park board has 187 hectares of land set aside for this sport.

Green commissioner Dave Demers hopes other park board members support his call for a
Green commissioner Dave Demers hopes other park board members support his call for a "deep dive" into the pros and cons of allocating 15 percent of park land for golf.
The park board operates the three aforementioned 18-hole golf courses, as well as pitch and putt facilities at Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, and Rupert Park.

Demers's motion seeks commissioners' endorsement for staff to compare past, current, and expected demands for golf—and the requirements to provide this—with the rest of the board's recreational system.

Demers also wants staff to look at ways of aligning managerial, financial, and planning of golf in conjunction with the rest of the park and recreational system.
And he hopes that all of this can be occur before the board launches any master-planning process on golf courses.

If a majority of commissioners support the motion, staff will return to the board with a report to building on recommendations in the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, Biodiversity Strategy, and Urban Forest Strategy.

The motion calls on the report to also be mindful of Vancouver's Playbook, which is a process that's expected to guide recreational planning over 25 years.

According to Demers's motion, it costs adults $59 to $67 to play 18 holes during the peak season. In the off-season, adult rates range from $28.25 to $36.50.

Golf is profitable for the park board, with $9.9 million in revenue forecast this year.  Park board staff have pegged this year's expenditures for golf at $6.6 million.

Demers's motion acknowledges that $300,000 per year flows into a golf reserve fund, which had $516,000 in unallocated expenditures in March.

The park board's annual operating expenditures this year are forecast to be $66.5 million.

Fungicides are only applied to the greens at Langara (above), Fraserview, and McCleery golf courses.  
Fungicides are only applied to the greens at Langara (above), Fraserview, and McCleery golf courses. 
City of Vancouver
The board's budget does not include an evaluation of the opportunity cost of allocating a significant amount of its land to one recreational activity.

"Golf courses require regular grooming (currently by gas-powered machinery), irrigation, and maintenance to provide healthy & resilient playing surfaces (as with all sport playing fields)," the motion states, "and best practices are employed: irrigation water is provided primarily via aquifer or storm water, and fungicides are only applied to golf greens (about 1.5% of the area."

(c) 2019 Straight.com

08 April 2019

Statement on the completion of the False Creek Flats Panel process

April 6 2019 

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate members of the False Creek Flats Panel on arriving at a recommended option for an arterial route.

Late on Saturday afternoon, after eight days of meetings and deliberations, this committed group residents and business owners completed a process of voting on and ranking among nine possible routes.

This decision was grounded in a unique process of learning and dialogue. The top ranked option was National – Charles. Visit the False Creek Flats Community Panel website for a detailed synopsis of the process, led by the Jefferson Center at: fcfcommunitypanel.com .

This best in class democratic process was a first for the City of Vancouver and Park Board, and we would like to thank the participants for their commitment to their community and city through a significant contribution of time and effort on this challenging technical and, at times, emotional question.

We look forward to hosting the community panel at Vancouver City Council on April 24 and at Park Board on April 30 to present their findings.

City staff will then take the significant public input provided by the report and undertake further technical and feasibility analysis. They will come back in fall 2019 with a full recommendation for consideration by Council.

Again, we thank the participants and the convenors, Jefferson Center, for their efforts in leading and completing this important process.