Gwen Giesbrecht is a COPE candidate for Vancouver Park Board. Join COPE to help elect Gwen and all the other COPE candidates by signing up here.
What is your background and experience? What work have you done in your life or community that is relevant to the office you're seeking?
Prior to election to the Board of Parks & Recreation in 2018, I spent more than 10 years on boards that impact Vancouver residents. As Chair of the Vancouver Parent Advisory Committee, President of the Britannia Community Centre board, and with involvement with other community organizations, I achieved a good understanding of the role of a Park Board commissioner. In my first term on the Parks Board I have held leadership positions, including Chair of Committee and currently Vice-Chair of the Board. I am seeking a second term to continue advancing the policies of COPE’s Parks Committee.
What do you like about COPE and why do you think you’ll be a good fit for COPE?
A COPE member since 2005, I was candidate for School Board in 2011 and elected to Parks Board 2018.
I’ve been a resident of Grandview-Woodland since 1989, in the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish & Tsleil-Waututh peoples. A small business owner with a modest income and a solo parent, I am personally affected by the challenges of housing, food security, and being able to access public amenities. I have a strong belief that every diverse community has the right to be strong and resilient, with publicly funded support for them, and the importance of inclusion for those most impacted in public policy decision making. The teachings of Indigenous peoples must be the compass that guides us. We must include and value the perspectives of newcomers who arrive. COPE is the organization that best reflects my personal beliefs. It would be my privilege to continue to bring those beliefs forward in elected office.
What are the big issues you want to highlight during the election campaign and work on while in office?
This has been an eventful 1st term on Parks Board. The COVID-19 pandemic, growing numbers of unhoused people living in parks, and extreme weather have influenced decisions taken this term. COPE Commissioners have found allies on the current board to find different approaches in addressing some important issues. Some of the key issues I would like to continue moving forward are:
- Improving access to Stanley Park for active transportation was a needed change. The challenge moving forward will be to ensure ease of access to all park users.
- Work with other levels of government in finding acceptable solutions for unhoused residents. Much more work is needed to find secure housing and to make sure that forced eviction from parks is never an option.
- Maintaining and creating green spaces through a decolonized lens with First Nations knowledge of stewardship and by restoring the natural ecology.
- Continue supporting Community Centres to offer diverse and inclusive services.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I have been honoured to bring the voice of COPE to the Board of Parks and Recreation debates. Please endorse my bid to be nominated as a COPE candidate for Park Board to seek re-election for a 2nd term and continue to have a seat at the table.
Sign up to today to become a COPE member!
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