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

24 October 2019

Vancouver city council approves decampment plan for Oppenheimer Park

Motion calls for new city outreach team to help homeless population find housing and other support

CBC News · Posted: Oct 24, 2019

Vancouver city council has approved a plan to address the needs of tent city residents in Oppenheimer Park.

A motion brought forward by councillors Michael Wiebe and Lisa Dominato called on the city to move forward with a collaborative plan to support residents living in the park and to restore the grounds for public use.

This would mean creating an outreach team to help connect homeless residents with appropriate housing, health care and support services.

The motion, which was approved Wednesday night, also calls on the city to work with the Vancouver Park Board to provide access to showers and washrooms in city parks, and explore options for providing a community kitchen, laundry facilities and bathrooms with running water.

"We have to step away from the stigma, we have to step away from thinking that there's a silver bullet and we need to really work with every level of government and every organization that's down there to make it work," Wiebe said.

"The timing is kind of immediate."

This summer, the Vancouver Park Board managed to resettle around 100 park residents into single resident occupancy (SRO) housing or shelters. The city estimated this accounted for more than two-thirds of the people who were living in the park at the time.

Last month, the park board voted against evicting people living in tents, choosing instead an approach to help them find alternative housing.

Wiebe said the motion was brought forward to address some of the deep-rooted issues — like mental health and the housing crisis — that have resulted in the park becoming home to hundreds of people at times.

The motion calls on the city to seek funding from the provincial and federal governments to expand and support employment opportunities and initiatives like the Park Stewardship Program.

It also calls for a review of services in the Downtown Eastside, and to support the Vancouver Police Department in increasing its capacity to respond to mental health calls for support.

The goal is to continue to move people up the housing ladder, Wiebe said.

"We need to really work on this and I think there is an appetite from all levels of government to coordinate and come together to really kind of make an impact as soon as we can," he said.

Original article here

17 October 2019

Glow in the Garden at VanDusen back for another season of Halloween fun

Pumpkin decoration

With the evenings getting darker and the air crisp and cool, the lights and displays offer an exciting and fun way to experience the beauty of VanDusen, under the spell of Halloween.

Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon

October 16 2019
Embrace the Halloween spirit at VanDusen Glow in the Garden, an enchanted stroll through the lit-up display gardens.

Glow in the Garden takes place every evening from October 17 to 27 with three one-hour time slots (5pm, 6:30pm, and 8pm). This year, a new light show with a wildlife and nature theme has been added to the unique displays and magical moments suitable for visitors of all ages.

“VanDusen Glow in the Garden is fantastic way to see the gardens, decorated and lit up to embrace the Halloween spirit, and enchantment of fall,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

“With the evenings getting darker and the air crisp and cool, the lights and displays offer an exciting and fun way to experience the beauty of VanDusen, under the spell of Halloween.”

A “hootenanny” spell has been cast

For this year’s theme, the old barred owl has played a Halloween trick by casting a “hootenanny” spell and making everything glow. Visitors can help Anna the hummingbird and her friends lift the spell as they journey through the garden. Kids can collect six stamps at the Glow zones and redeem them for a small prize at the bootique located inside the Visitor Centre halls.

Buy tickets in advance

VanDusen Glow in the Garden has been expanding each year since it began in 2016. Many evenings sell out, so it is recommended visitors buy tickets online in advance.

Online admission prices are $9.50 for children ages 3-12, $11.50 for seniors, youth and VBGA members, and $13.50 for adults. Children two and under are free. Ticket price includes access to the Halloween walk in the garden, participation in crafts, and a scavenger hunt with a small prize for kids if the hunt is completed.

VanDusen Glow in the Garden is sponsored by Exhibau. VanDusen Garden is jointly operated by the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association.

Stanley Park Ghost Train

Glow in the Garden is just one of two spectacular Halloween events hosted by the Vancouver Park Board. The Stanley Park Ghost Train is in full swing with a spooky new theme, Alice in Nightmareland.

Visitors to the train will discover things aren’t what they seem as a teenaged Alice falls down the rabbit hole again. Follow Alice and the Not-So-White Rabbit through an endless series of stone doors and enter into a gothic nightmare world of creatures, crypts, and catacombs.
The Ghost Train runs until October 31. Find details and tickets

Original post here

16 October 2019

Vancouver approves an equity-focused parks strategy for the future

October 15, 2019

Jake Tobin Garrett
Park People

Following a multi-year effort, last week the Vancouver Park Board approved its citywide parks and recreation master plan. Dubbed VanPlay, it will guide investment in parks and recreation for the next 25 years. Vancouver is the only Canadian city—and one of the only in North America—with an elected Park Board that governs the city’s green spaces.

VanPlay was necessitated by a much-changed, much-grown city bumping up against a number of challenges such as equity, population growth, and changing demographics and needs. 

For example, despite the fact that Vancouver has more parks now than it did 25 years ago, the amount of park space per person has declined by one third due to population growth. In short, people have outpaced parks. 

In the Canadian City Parks Report, our survey of Canadian park systems released this summer, Vancouver ranked lowest in average park provision with 2 hectares of parkland per 1000 people (see graph below). While this was low, it was also in line with other major urban centres like Toronto (2.7ha) and Montreal (2.4ha), showing how growth and density is challenging park systems across the country. 

Despite falling lower on parkland provision, Vancouver shone in the Canadian City Parks Report, which compiled data, but also surfaced stories about leading practices. 

Vancouver showed its dedication in striving for a progressive park system through policies such as instituting all gender park washrooms and performing a colonial audit of the city’s park system.

Vancouver brings that progressive focus to VanPlay. This is a report that features quotes from Audre Lorde, an explanation of intersectionality, and a diagram outlining the spectrum of privilege and oppression.

Vancouver’s focus on park equity stems from a recognition that the city’s park development has been historically uneven, creating inequities between neighbourhoods in park access and quality. 

As our cities explode with growth, it’s critical that we reckon with past planning and patterns of growth that have created uneven access to quality parks. We know parks provide multiple environmental, social, health, and economic benefits that everyone in a city should be able to share in equally. But how do we know where to invest limited public dollars?

The breakthrough in VanPlay is the use of geospatial data (a fancy way of saying data that is tied to a certain location, like income in a particular neighbourhood) to identify underserved areas where increased investment in parks should be targeted. 

The Park Board is calling these areas Initiative Zones. 

Initiative Zones were identified by examining three layers of data:
  1. Park access gaps: Areas where people are more than a 10 minute walk to a park and/or areas that are served by less than 0.55 hectares per 1000 people.
  2. Demand for low barrier recreation: The number of residents that have registered for the city’s Leisure Access Program, which provides low-cost recreation access.
  3. Tree canopy gaps: Areas of the city that have less than 5% tree canopy coverage. 

Now that this model has been created, the Park Board can layer other factors over time to reveal more nuance or target specific policy areas. 

These additional layers could include income, survey data on community engagement and satisfaction, locations of past capital investments by the city, and demographic data such as age. 

For example, the Park Board shows how layering on the city’s growth areas can provide further guidance on where to direct funds. Areas of the city experiencing growth pressures can often meet parks investment needs through the development process, whereas areas that are low or no-growth — but may rank as underserved — don’t have that same opportunity. The report concludes that equity strategies should target these lower growth areas for public investment. 

As Park Board Commissioner Camil Dumont told Mash Salehomoum, Park People’s Vancouver Program Coordinator, at the meeting where VanPlay was approved:
For me, this is the ultimate set of goals to inform my decisions. The sweeping and explicit prioritization of equity in such a monumental report really makes me proud of the work that we do at the Park Board.” 
Of course, data only tells part of the story — a fact that the Park Board recognizes. The report’s recommendations include on-going engagement between communities and the Park Board to assist in interpreting the data and understanding the lived experience behind it. The Park Board also has plans to make this data publicly available online through a mapping tool on their website.

It’s not hard to see what a powerful analytical decision-making tool VanPlay could become.

Other VanPlay highlights

 Water, resurfaced

Vancouver is a city defined by water. When I lived there, I loved running along the seawall, or watching cargo ships unload at Crab Park, or chasing bunny rabbits at Jericho Beach. Water in Vancouver seems to be everywhere. And yet, as the report notes, 91% of urban streams in the city have been buried throughout its history.

As part of the City’s work on biodiversity as well as creating a city more resilient to the extreme rainfall events made more common through climate change, the VanPlay strategy aims to bring more of these streams back to the surface. This will create more natural habitat, new amenities for people, and also help manage rainwater during storms.
Streets to parks
We don’t think about it often, but streets represent the largest amount of public space we have in our cities—often about a quarter of the entire land area of a city. In Vancouver, streets represent 32% of the city’s land area, while parks sit at 11%. That’s a big public space resource for a city struggling to meet the public space needs of its growing population. 

Vancouver is already a leader in rethinking streets as public space, and VanPlay encourages more of this thinking with a recommendation to work with Planning and Engineering to create parklets, street closures, laneway activations and more.
Connectivity enhancers
Connectivity is another big feature of VanPlay. Vancouver already boasts the longest continuous waterfront trail in the world (the 28km sea wall that wraps around downtown) and a burgeoning system of bike lanes. VanPlay hopes to take this further.

An interesting element in the report is what the Park Board is calling “network enhancers.” These are elements—like bike repair stations, wayfinding, lighting, and seating—that bolster connectivity by increasing utility, safety, or pleasure between destinations.

Perhaps your walk between school and the park includes a small pollinator garden, a place to fill up your water bottle and a colourful piece of public art. 

We can’t always thread our city together with linear parks, but we can use these “network enhancers” to make the experience more enjoyable.

View the full VanPlay report here. You can find Vancouver’s City Profile in our Canadian City Parks Report here.

For the original Park People post go here.

12 October 2019

Got leaves? Fall leaf collection is coming up!

City-wide extra leaf collection turns your fallen leaves into nutrient rich compost

October 4 2019 –

Vancouver trees are now shedding their leaves in preparation for winter.  We be-leaf it’s time to remind residents about the City’s fall leaf collection program and the steps we can all take to prevent flooding and keep our streets and sidewalks safe.

Extra leaf collection weekends 

Leaves collected by residents from their property, sidewalk and boulevard can be put in the Green Bin. Extra Leaves that don’t fit into the Green Bin can be placed in paper yard waste bags or in store-bought bins (maximum 100 litres) and set out on these leaf collection weekends:
  • October 26 and 27, 2019
  • November 16 and 17, 2019
  • December 14 and 15, 2019
  • January 11 and 12, 2020 (Christmas trees will also be collected)
Residents are encouraged to keep their filled paper yard waste bags as dry as possible before setting them out for pickup to prevent the bags from tearing during collection. Leaves set out in plastic bags will not be collected, including bags labelled compostable or biodegradable plastic. 

Crews will collect extra leaves on either the Saturday or Sunday, but not both days. To ensure pickup, residents should set their leaves out before 7am on the scheduled Saturday.

There is no Green Bin pickup service on extra leaf collection weekends. Residents should set out their Green Bin on their next scheduled collection day.

Leaf removal from city streets 

Starting in mid-November, the City coordinates a city-wide street cleaning program to remove fallen leaves from streets. Residents are asked to move their vehicles when temporary “no stopping” signs are posted so crews can properly clear and sweep their street. Vehicles parked in “no stopping” zones will be ticketed and may be towed to a nearby location.

Help prevent flooding

Residents or businesses should never rake or blow leaves onto catch basins, streets, sidewalks, or bike lanes. Raking or blowing leaves onto the street or sidewalk can create a safety hazard for pedestrians and cyclists, can cause flooding and is a fineable offence under the Street and Traffic By-Law.

Turning leaves into nutrient rich compost

Collected leaves 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.
Find more helpful guidelines on our fall leaf collection program

Residents can get reminders for scheduled pickup days, recycling drop-off events, and leaf collection weekends by downloading the VanCollect app.

see original post here

11 October 2019

My remarks on the conclusion of VanPlay

[ You can watch this portion of the meeting here ]

Since first being elected in 2008, I have had the honour and pleasure to be in involved with what I consider to be the three greatest achievements of the Board of Parks and Recreation in its recent history: the renewal of the Joint Operating Agreements with its Community Centre partners; our commitment to truth-telling, reconciliation and redress; and now VanPlay, our masterplan for the next 25 years and beyond.

All of these achievements have come about through the hard work of our staff and our outside consultants. There are too many to thank individually, but I do want to make special acknowledgments to: Curt Culbertson of the Design Workshop team; Dave Hutch, our Director of Park Planning and Development; Doug Shearer, our Manager of Policy, Planning, and Environment; and especially to Katherine Howard, the project manager.

This is truly a great achievement. The final reports show what a mammoth undertaking this has been. Personally, I am most pleased to see the overarching commitment to equity.

None of this, the JOA renewal, our commitment to reconciliation, or VanPlay would have been possible without the foresight, oversight, and leadership of our General Manager, Malcolm Bromley. To you Malcolm, to everyone involved, my heartfelt thanks and admiration. 

Thank you. Well done.