5. Parks & Recreation

 

Create New Parks

5.1 COPE will ensure that park space expands to meet the needs of Vancouver’s growing population by committing to the Park Board’s policy of 1.1 hectare of new park space per 1000 new residents, and the “5 minute walk from a park” criteria. This will be applied to new developments, as well as to historically deficient neighbourhoods.

5.1.1 COPE Parks Commissioners will redefine the definition of adequate park availability to include both the distance travelled and the amount of green space available for the population, as per Section 5.1;

5.1.2 COPE will restore the funding that city increase funding to meet the needs of a growing population and inflation;

5.1.3 COPE Parks Commissioners and Councillors will work together to ensure sources of capital funding for both park expansion and community centre and recreation facility rehabilitation and expansion, in addition to Council commitments to housing and childcare during the period of the next (2019-2022) Capital Plan;

5.1.4 COPE supports the Board of Parks and Recreation in its request for the results of the VanPlay Masterplan consultation to inform the re-evaluation of DCL rates;

5.1.5 COPE supports the Board of Parks and Recreation in its request to identify opportunities for park acquisition and development, and to reconcile Park Board interests in non-park City-owned lands, including those included in the Property Endowment Fund.

 

Upgrade and Expand Community Centres

5.2 COPE will ensure that community centres and recreation facilities are upgraded and expanded to meet the needs of the growing population, and address the backlog of inadequate and deteriorating facilities that already exists, and will engage the public, including its partner community associations, to establish a timeline and priorities as goals in the capital planning cycle.

5.2.1 COPE Parks Commissioners and Councillors will work together, in consultation with the public and the Park Board’s Community Centre Association partners, to address the shortage of capital funding for Parks and Recreation infrastructure, and to identify means of accelerating the current rate of replacement or renovation, including setting priorities and establishing a timeline within the Capital Planning cycle, to meet the needs of Vancouver’s growing population.

5.2.3 COPE will work with its colleagues at City Council to adequately fund parks and recreation services in both the Operating Budget and the building of new and renovated facilities in the Capital Budget. COPE will establish a mechanism to ensure that adequate funding of Parks & Recreation services and infrastructure is sustained.

 

Public Washrooms and Water Fountains

5.3 COPE to provide more public washrooms.

5.3.1 COPE will address the shortage and enhance the accessibility of washrooms (and, in particular, gender neutral washrooms) and water fountains (for both people and dogs) by making these a priority in the Park Board’s Capital Plan.

 

Public Swimming Pools

5.4 COPE will consult with the affected communities to identify what constitutes adequate replacements for Vancouver’s lost outdoor pools (Hastings, Marpole-Oakridge, Sunset, Mt Pleasant) and deteriorating or closed wading pools, and to identify gaps in summer aquatic opportunities. A rebuild of Mount Pleasant outdoor pool will be given priority because it has been approved in the Master Plan for Mount Pleasant Community Park for “when funding becomes available.”

5.4.1 COPE supports the retention of neighbourhood recreation facilities such as Templeton and Lord Byng pools, the replacement of lost outdoor pools such as Marpole, Sunset, and Mount Pleasant, and suitable replacements for our deteriorating wading pools;

5.4.1 COPE supports aquatic facilities providing “fun” activities for families with children, and facilities providing training for competitive swimmers and divers, with the understanding that these are not to be considered replacements for neighbourhood-based recreation facilities, and nor should any consolidation of recreation facilities result in the repurposing of land dedicated to Parks & Recreation for other uses.

5.4.2. COPE will ensure that further consultations on aquatic activities in Vancouver will address the inadequacies of the VanSplash process.

5.4.3 COPE supports the inclusion of a pool in Oak Park in Marpole as part of the proposed new Community Centre complex; a new outdoor pool at Marpole was recommended for inclusion in the 2019-2022 Capital Plan by the Park Board in January 2018. COPE also recommends that a rebuild of the Mount Pleasant outdoor pool be included in the 2019-2022 Capital Plan because it was approved in the 2010 Master Plan for Mount Pleasant Community Park for “when funding becomes available”.

 

Youth Programs

5.5 COPE will ensure more free programs and use of facilities for youth.

 

Make Services Accessible to Diverse Communities

5.6 COPE will look at the 519 Community Centre in Toronto as an example of delivering services to different and diverse communities in Vancouver, and work in partnership with different cultural communities in Vancouver and in collaboration with other service agencies to identify City-owned and other spaces for this purpose. COPE supports the recently opened LGBTQ community centre in the West End, and suggests the 519 Community Centre model as an example to consider for similar centres in other areas of the City of Vancouver.

5.6.1 COPE will work cooperatively with other partners in the community such as the Library Board, School Board, and non-profit organizations to foster improved services, integration, and empowerment of the diverse residents of Vancouver.

 

Establish Hogan's Alley Community Centre

5.7 COPE will establish a community centre at Hogan’s Alley as a memorial to the lost community which once lived there, with a mandate to both host cultural activities and provide a place for new immigrant communities, providing this is consistent with the City’s Task Force recommendations on Hogan’s Alley being included in the North-East False Creek consultations. 

 

Waste Management

5.8 COPE will consult with the public and work with the employees who maintain our parks to identify means of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste.

 

Invasive Species

5.9 COPE will work with City and Park Board staff, with input from the public, to identify parks which suffer from invasive species, establish a plan for their removal, and engage and educate the public to prevent the further spread of invasive species.

 

Urban Food Forests

5.10 COPE will consult with the public, City, and Park Board staff to identify appropriate land and resources to establish urban food forests, including design, site preparation, planting, and maintenance. All food produced in urban food forests will be entirely public and both harvested and consumed by Vancouver’s residents on a basis of mutual trust. Both native food forests and food trees from around the world, representing Vancouver’s diverse communities, will be established. The focus will be on community building and education, including soil building, fruit tree care, seed saving, bee-keeping, composting, safety, and identification of unfamiliar plants.

 

Accessibility Via Walking, Cycling, and Public Transit

5.11 COPE will make accessibility by walking, cycling and public transit a priority when siting new community centres, recreation facilities, parks, river and ocean waterfronts, which may or may not be designated as a park. This includes providing an increased number of bike racks at sites such as community centres and parks.

5.12 COPE will restore the free shuttle in Stanley Park, to be paid for from parking fees, and work with City Council and local labour unions to extend the shuttle along the waterfront from Crab Portside Park to Spanish Bank.

 

Arts and Culture

5.13.1 COPE will encourage arts and culture groups in the city to have input into the design of new and renovated parks and facilities.

5.13.2 COPE will work with partner community associations and other organizations to expand and enhance arts and culture programs, including a concerted effort to outreach to arts and culture groups throughout the city, particularly those who either lack awareness of current opportunities, or who have not previously been given the opportunity to participate.

5.13.3 COPE will establish Cultural Land Reserves to protect Vancouver’s dwindling and struggling facilities that exist, particularly in the Downtown Eastside, and rezone dedicated buildings within the Cultural Land Reserves so that they cannot be gentrified into condominiums.

5.13.4 COPE will institute a new zoning designation for cultural and leisure spaces in perpetuity to promote preservation and creation of these spaces.

5.13.5 COPE will seek, under the provisions of the Vancouver Charter, a tax exemption for properties operated as cultural and leisure spaces by qualified non-profit organizations and create a designation for cultural and leisure spaces operated by qualified for-profit organizations to be taxed at a reduced rate.

5.13.6 To preserve resources and retain neighbourhood character, COPE will provide Green Retrofit Grants to qualified non-profit and for-profit organizations operating cultural and leisure spaces operated by qualified for profit organizations at a reduced rate.

 

Support Unionized Workers

5.14 COPE will work with its unionized employees to identify budget deficiencies without laying off workers.

5.15 COPE will consult with City staff and volunteers regarding the role of each, recognizing both the scope of work done by staff and the value of community engagement in enriching our parks and recreation system.

5.15.1 COPE will provide continued support and recognition of community volunteers who are essential to fulfilling COPE’s mission of creating a Vancouver for everyone.

5.16 COPE will work with colleagues at City Council to institute a living wage for restaurant and contracted work.

5.17 COPE will give priority to services being done in-house, and where this is not feasible, award contracts to local business, and avoid corporatizing services in Vancouver’s parks and recreations facilities.

 

Accessible and Transparent Park Board

5.19 COPE will work with the public to establish more comprehensive public consultation, which must include face-to-face interaction in addition to web-based questionnaires and forums. In particular, COPE will work to engage residents of Vancouver who have barriers to participation, such as low income, physical or mental disabilities, a first language other than English, or cultural inhibitions. COPE will ensure that public consultation is conducted with respect by all parties.

5.20 COPE will restore the practice of holding some of the Park Board’s regular meetings in venues throughout the city, especially in community centres, with an opportunity for residents of each community to tell the Park Board their issues and concerns at the beginning of each meeting.

5.21 COPE will advocate for improvements to the Park Board’s meeting schedule and procedure. Currently, the public has an opportunity to speak on items at the Committee stage, but it is at the discretion of the Park Board as to whether they can speak to items at the Regular Board meeting which follows the Committee meeting. If any item is referred to staff for possible amendments, or is otherwise changed from the proposal at the Committee stage, the public should be allowed to speak at the Regular meeting on the amended motion. Similarly, if an item proceeds directly to a Regular Meeting without first coming to a Committee meeting, the public should be allowed to speak, including motions put forward by the Commissioners themselves. If an item affects a particular community, the Park Board should endeavour to hold a Park Board Committee meeting in a venue that is close to and accessible to that community.

5.22 COPE will empower neighbourhoods to participate in decision - making by conducting forums in the community at which residents can raise issues and have input in prioritizing both operating and capital expenditures.

5.23 COPE will ensure that the people of Vancouver and residents of the Hastings Park area in particular have meaningful access to and input into decision-making at Hastings Park.

 

Ban Cetaceans in Captivity

5.24 COPE supports the May 2017 Park Board motion to ban keeping cetaceans in captivity in Stanley Park. COPE will oppose the court action initiated by the Vancouver Aquarium to overturn the Park Board’s right to legislate this, which is now heading to the BC Court of Appeal after the BC Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Aquarium.

 

Support Independence of Park Board and Community Centre Associations

5.25 COPE will recognize the long history of Community Centre Associations (CCAs) in Vancouver, and their partnership with the Park Board under the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA), and respect their crucial role in creating an effective grassroots decision-making process responding to recreational, social, and cultural needs in their communities by consulting with the CCA Boards and their membership.

5.26 COPE will oppose Vancouver City Council having total fiscal control over the Park Board, and potentially tapping the revenues generated by the Community Centres. 

5.27 COPE will also oppose any attempt by the City or Park Board to replace the Community Centre Associations by public-private partnerships (P3’s).

5.29 COPE will support an independent and elected Park Board.

5.30 COPE will support an overall increase to the global budget received by the Park Board from the City of Vancouver, and the revocation of the $10 million in cuts to Park Board funding since 2009.

5.31 COPE will strengthen the Park Board’s partnership with existing CCAs, who effectively represent their neighbourhoods and consult with their membership to identify and address community needs. COPE will review the new Joint Operating Agreement in consultation with the CCA’s to ensure that the document reflects the mutual partnership between the CCA’s and the Park Board.

5.32 COPE will recognize and promote the value of union representation and Vancouver’s civic unions such as CUPE, who represent the vast majority of Park Board employees. COPE will support the expansion of the unionized workforce under the provincial labour code to include Community Association employees who fall within the CUPE/Park Board jurisdiction and are committed to working with the Unions, as needed. COPE recognizes that achieving this could increase Park Board expenses and re-affirms the importance of restoring Park Board funding.

5.33 COPE will ensure that any review of services to avoid overlap of Park Board and Community Centre Association programs will be done in partnership with CCAs, so that these community organizations can continue to provide unique and localized programs that meet the diverse needs of Vancouver’s many citizens.  Any “System Wide Programs” brought forward by the Park Board under the new Joint Operating Agreement should only be implemented with sincere consultation and collaboration with the Community Centre Associations.

5.34 COPE will ensure equity throughout Park Board and Community Centre Associations services and programs, citywide. Any resident of Vancouver should be able to access a Community or Recreation Centre service or program (e.g. swimming lessons, fitness centres, language instruction, arts classes) at any location in Vancouver without physical or financial barriers. This includes physical and financial access to physical plant amenities within the community and recreation centres, such as lockers. Similarly, all residents of Vancouver should have physical and financial access to outdoor recreation facilities such as playing fields and courts. COPE will advocate for a review of the Park Board’s Leisure Access fee-reduction program with the goal of removing barriers which prevent people from accessing it and ensure that the level of fee-reduction is matched to the person requesting it.

5.35 COPE will encourage the Park Board to work respectfully with its Community Centre Association partners within the Joint Operating Agreement to help foster better relations and cooperation with the goal of enhancing jointly provided services.

5.36 COPE will negotiate with Community Centre Associations to identify a fiscal framework which will allow them to become Living Wage employers. For those Community Centre Associations that are financially disadvantaged, this will require subsidies that will increase the Park Board’s Operating Budget, and require cooperation from the City to properly fund it.

 

Repurposing Park Land

5.41 COPE demands that any suggestions for repurposing the use of the Langara Golf Course lands must not be undertaken without a full and comprehensive public consultation, including current stakeholders (the golfers and users of the perimeter pathway), the residents of the Langara area, First Nations on whose unceded land the Langara golf course is located, and other interested residents of Vancouver;

5.41.1 COPE recognizes the responsibility of the Vancouver Park Board for Parks and Recreation, as defined in the Vancouver Charter, to conduct public consultation on Parks and Recreation issues;

5.41.2 COPE opposes the loss of any land dedicated to parks and recreation to other purposes such as housing.

5.42 COPE reiterates its opposition, first expressed in 2012, to the loss of any land currently dedicated to either Cottonwood or Strathcona Community Gardens to the rerouting of Georgia Viaduct traffic;

5.42.1 COPE opposes any loss of park land in Strathcona, period, to accommodate traffic.

5.43 COPE opposes a Hydro substation under Nelson Park and the adjacent school.

 

No Privatization

5.43 Cope opposes privatization of maintenance and services in parks, including the proposed new park at Oakridge Centre.

5.43.1 COPE also opposes restricting public access to public spaces. 

 

NEFC Park

5.44 COPE will pressure Concord Pacific to make good on its commitment made 20 years ago to build a park for people in North East False Creek on the former Expo lands.

 

Universal Leisure Access Card

5.48  Leisure Access Cards will be available at Park Board facilities and a similar card be introduced at city-operated facilities, free or at lower fee to ensure universal access to increase leisure and cultural opportunities.

 

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