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Decision 2014: Vancouver Park Board Endorsements Rationale

VanRamblings' Vancouver City Council Endorsements may be found here.

VanRamblings' Vancouver School Board Endorsements may be found here.

Vancouver's Parks System, Abandoned by Vision Vancouver

If you haven't read Part 1 of VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements List Rationale, you'll want to read it first, the post focusing mainly on VanRamblings' favourite candidate for Park Board, John Coupar.

Arriving at the conclusions I have in respect of identifying those candidates I believe possess both the gravitas to become true defenders of the public interest and, pragmatically, have a decent chance of gaining the trust of Vancouver voters and defeating what is for many the worst Park Board in the 128-year-young history of that august body was not an easy task.

Vancouver's Park Board Commissioners have — up until this past six years, when a Vision Vancouver-led majority Park Board slate was elected to office — acted as stewards of our parks and recreation system.

Let's have a look at the remaining Vancouver Park Board candidates endorsed by VanRamblings earlier in the week.

Stuart Mackinnon, a 2014 Must-Elect for Vancouver Park BoardStuart Mackinnon, a MUST-ELECT Green Party of Vancouver candidate for Park Board

Following John Coupar on my list of must-elects to Park Board, my next favourite must-elect is the Green Party of Vancouver's one-term Vancouver Park Board Commissioner (2008 - 2011) Stuart Mackinnon who, as he says on his blog, "has fought for the preservation of our foreshore and our natural beaches, who believes in our Park Board's community services system," and who has always been a staunch defender of the independence of our neighbourhood community centre associations.

In addition, as a well-respected educator for some 26 years, central to Stuart's campaign platform is his belief that "every child should be able to play in their own neighbourhood," which means parks nearby and playgrounds, and a livable city for all of us who live across the vast expanse of our metropolitan city by the sea, is central to Stuart's belief system.

Earlier today, I received the following e-mail from my friend Margery Duda, an advocate for the restoration of community outdoor pools, who writes ...

Stuart Mackinnon advocated for outdoor pools when he was on Park Board, 2008 to 2011, and as a Green Party of Vancouver candidate for Park Board in 2011 was instrumental in having the Greens adopt a plan to replace outdoor pools fallen into disrepair, and build new ones.

Outdoor pools have gained a lot of traction in this election campaign, and that is music to the ears of pool advocates.

With the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) being on the record supporting outdoor pools via past Park Board Chairperson and current Park Board candidate, Anita Romaniuk, thanks to Stuart and Anita, the Non-Partisan Association's game-changing commitment to build three outdoor pools if elected, and now with the Greens making it official, too, outdoor swimming pools are sure to return as a part of Vancouver's recreation network, a development for which we are glad, indeed.

Note should be made, as well, that the smaller parties such as the Vancouver Cedar Party and IDEA have also committed to outdoor pools, as have some of the independents.

Those of us who have advocated for outdoor pools believe that it is unfortunate that six years were wasted under Vision Vancouver, when we could have been replacing our outdoor pools. When Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners first ran for office in 2008, a central tenet of their platform was a replacement of our outdoor pools network — since their election, they have reversed themselves on that very important commitment made to many of us who live in neighbourhoods across our city. We've continued our fight, in the community and at Park Board.

The Mount Pleasant Outdoor Pool could have been completed as early as 2010, when Mount Pleasant Park was re-developed following a public consultation that rated the pool as the community's top priority. During the six years of Vision Vancouver governance at Park Board, opportunities for green technology grants and federal infrastructure funding were passed over by Vision in favour of building expensive indoor destination pools only.

Although Vision voted against a proposal to fund an outdoor pool in the current Capital Plan presented to voters, with the great support that has been forthcoming from the Green Party's outstanding candidate for Park Board, Stuart Mackinnon, and support from our good friend, COPE's Anita Romaniuk, we believe that should a mixed Park Board slate of Green Party of Vancouver, the Non-Partisan Association, COPE and perhaps one or two independents — such as IDEA's Jamie Lee Hamilton or James Buckshon — outdoor pools are attainable within the current Capital Plan.

Outdoor pool advocates: Sharpen your pencils and get out to vote between Wednesday November 12th and Saturday November 15th."

With a Green Party of Vancouver platform that advocates for community-driven planning — that regards community centre associations as partners, not adversaries — replacement of outdoor pools, zero waste, local food systems and access to nature, and a revitalization of Park Board facilities and our parks' infrastructure, the Greens' Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe, are two absolute must-elects for Vancouver Park Board.

Erin Shum, An Outstanding Candidate for Vancouver Park Board in 2014

Erin Shum, running with the Non-Partisan Association, is — far and away — VanRamblings' favourite new candidate seeking office for Park Board.

For the past year, Erin has regularly attended the bi-weekly Park Board meetings, and on several occasions has spoken at the Park Board table advocating for the community interest on a range of issues of concern to residents living in neighbourhoods across our city. Erin's is a strong, reasoned and clarion voice, a welcome advocate for the public interest.

Having spoken, and worked, with Erin for the past year, VanRamblings can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the woman you see pictured above is one tough cookie, a candidate who possesses a clear, informed understanding of the issues at play before Park Board; it was John Coupar and Erin who argued for the inclusion of a plank in the NPA platform calling for the restoration of our outdoor pools system; it is Erin Shum — working with John Coupar and fellow NPA candidate for Park Board, Casey Crawford — who have vowed to restore $10.2 million in funding for the redevelopment of the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre, monies that were approved in the 2011 City of Vancouver capital plan, but never spent.

In respect of the NPA's outdoors pools initiative, at the announcement of the NPA's Park Board platform, it was Erin Shum who told the media that were gathered, "Vancouver is dramatically underserved when it comes to outdoor pools. Going forward, we make this commitment to the people of Vancouver that we will consult with the community on where the new outdoor facilities should be located, and in our first term of office, we will commit to the construction of three new, or replacement, outdoor pools."

Make no mistake, Erin Shum is a person of sage wisdom well beyond her years, an advocate for the Gen-Y voters of her generation and for all of us, and for the burgeoning community of citizens of Chinese descent who have come to regard Erin Shum as a champion of the community interest.

VanRamblings is in complete accord with the belief that Erin Shum is a voice for the people, an activist and an advocate of the first order for the public interest, one of the brightest and strongest political figures to emerge out of Vancouver's increasingly buoyant municipal political scene in years.

In a world where too often those in elected political office simply dedicate themselves to serving the interests of the political parties that got them elected, while remaining mute on the issues of the day, Erin Shum has emerged as a vocal champion of the public interest, a partner for fellow Non-Partisan Association candidates John Coupar and Casey Crawford — and a candidate for Park Board who has vowed to restore $10.2 million in funding allocated in the failed Vision Vancouver 2011 capital plan for the necessary re-development of the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre.

Mount Pleasant Park, Where Erin Shum is Committed to Building Oudoor PoolMount Pleasant Park, where Erin Shum is committed to seeing a new outdoor pool built

Erin Shum, along with her NPA running mates John Coupar and Casey Crawford, Green Party of Vancouver Park Board candidates Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe, and COPE's Anita Romaniuk — should voters place their confidence in them — are the candidates for Park Board who, commencing on December 1st, 2014, when the newly-elected Park Board Commissioners will be sworn into office, will transform governance at Park Board, and restore our desecrated parks to their former, natural beauty, and end once and for all the hostile, Dr. Penny Ballem-driven — endorsed by the Vision Vancouver caucus — heartbreakingly contentious Vancouver City Hall relationship with our beleaguered community centre associations.

Anita Romaniuk, Casey Crawford and Michael Wiebe, MUST-ELECT candidates for Park BoardPark Board MUST-ELECTS: Anita Romaniuk, Casey Crawford, and Michael Wiebe

Make no mistake, VanRamblings' loves John Coupar, Stuart Mackinnon and Erin Shum, but as complementary must-elects to Vancouver Park Board, I am just as over the moon about COPE's Anita Romaniuk, the NPA's Casey Crawford, and the Green Party of Vancouver's Michael Wiebe.

Vancouver's School Board and Vancouver City Council candidate endorsement lists cost me sleepless nights, and hours on the phone, responding to e-mails and online explaining myself — it's been a tough slog, let me tell you. The VanRamblings' Park Board endorsements — well, they were a no-brainer, the choices so obvious, the quality of the candidates so high, there was no other direction VanRamblings could go.

Anita Romaniuk, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board in 2004 and Chair of the Park Board Finance Committee from 2003 to 2005, Anita has ...

  • Served six years on the Board of the Douglas Park Community Association;

  • Six more years as a member of the Douglas Park Arts Committee and the Park Improvement and Heather Park Committees;

  • Since 2006, Anita has worked with Margery Duda, and others, as a member of the Mount Pleasant Community Association's Pool Committee, where she's still advocating for the replacement of their outdoor pool;

  • In 2009, Anita became a founding member of the Vancouver Society for Preservation of Outdoor Pools;

  • In 2008, Anita joined the Board of Directors for the Save Our Parklands Association, and has served as its President since November 2011.

As VanRamblings has written elsewhere, Anita and I served on COPE's Parks & Recreation Committee, and together with Jamie Lee Hamilton drafted much of COPE's Park Board platform.

John Coupar, VanRamblings' very favourite candidate for Park Board, has said that he hopes Vancouver voters elect Anita to Park Board, that her institutional Park Board memory, and the likelihood that she'd hold his feet to the fire — John is nothing, if not a humble man — were he to become the next Chairperson of the Park Board

For the purposes of reference, all Park Board Commissioners vote on who the Chair will be, each year of their term in office.

In 2014, there is general consensus among all the serious candidates VanRamblings has endorsed that, given all of his good work this past three years and his commitment to our parks and recreation system, John has earned the right to become the next Park Board Chairperson, and thus they will vote that way when the time comes.

For VanRamblings, a vote for the candidates on VanRamblings' endorsement list is mandatory for anyone who cares about the welfare of our parks, our recreation system, restoration of our outdoor pools system, a return of Hastings Park to Park Board jurisdiction, implementation of the gender-variant policy, and all of the myriad issues — some known, some not yet known — that Park Board will face over the next four years.

VanRamblings urges you to save a vote for Anita Romaniuk for Park Board.

Casey Crawford: An Advocate for the Soccer, Baseball and More, And Fixing Playing Fields

Casey Crawford is the unsung hero of the 2014 Vancouver civic election, the under-the-radar candidate for Park Board who has more knowledge in his little finger about the state of our playing fields across Vancouver — in a word, dreadful — and how that impacts on the boys and girls who play soccer, rugby, baseball or field hockey, and the jeopardy into which the children have been placed by a politicized, out-of-touch Vision Vancouver majority Park Board, than all of the other Park Board candidates combined.

VanRamblings looks at the NPA's campaign website for Casey Crawford, and believes most who would surf to the site would say, "What? Who's this Casey Crawford fella, and what kind of Park Board Commissioner would he make?" Without wishing to become profane, VanRamblings would suggest the answer to that question is, "Casey Crawford would be a damn fine Park Board Commissioner, an advocate for our children, an advocate for children's sports, and during his term of office, there is little doubt in my mind that the media would identify Casey Crawford as the go-to guy on amateur sport in our city, and on any issue related to our playing fields."

Vote for Casey Crawford? Your darn tootin' you should - you MUST!

VanRamblings' 2014 Vancouver Civic Election Park Board Endorsements

Last, but certainly not least, there's the Green Party of Vancouver's Michael Wiebe, the new kid on the block, so to speak, business owner and community leader who, when he was 16 became a Park Board lifeguard (and later co-founded the Vancouver Lifeguard Association), who earned his Bachelor's in Business Administration, worked for the B.C. government administering public board appointments — and is, to boot, a charter member of the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee.

Kitsilano Park Board All-Party Candidates Meeting, Nov. 3, 2014 | Video by Elvira Lount

Michael says that as a Park Board Commissioner he's committed to ...

Building more natural parks — under Vision Vancouver there's been only one new park built in the past six years, the neglected pocket poodle park and 18th and Main — working towards the creations of a healthier, sustainable food system, fostering grassroots community initiatives in every neighbourhood across our city; and working to create a sustainable waste management programme that meets the needs of all of the citizens of Vancouver.

Truth-to-tell, it'll probably take Michael a few months to get up to speed — which is the case for every new member of Park Board — but according to my friend Gena Kolson, Michael's Grade 12 teacher ...

"Michael is extremely bright and a hard worker, picks things up faster than any student I ever worked with, is dedicated, passionate, a democrat to his core, someone people turn to, and a natural born leader. There's no question about whether I'll cast a vote for Michael; of course, I would. Michael will be a real asset on Park Board — voters won't be sorry they voted for Michael."

Well, there you go, VanRamblings' top six candidates for Vancouver Park Board, each one of whom we endorse enthusiastically.

Residents Oppose Cetaceans in Captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium, July 2014

If you've read this far, you're probably saying to yourself, "VanRamblings has endorsed 7 candidates for Park Board. What's happened to the NPA's Sarah Kirby-Yung — she's on the endorsement list, but she's not been written about? And I thought, too, that there's supposed to be an apology to Jamie Lee Hamilton and James Buckshon. What's happened to that?"

Answer: Although VanRamblings hasn't pulled Sarah Kirby-Yung's endorsement, the fact that from 2008 til 2010 she was the Vice-President, Marketing and Communications for the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, and given VanRamblings' long history of opposing whales in captivity, and given that several of VanRamblings' associates expressed vehement concern that — unlike John Coupar, Casey Crawford, Erin Shum, Stuart Mackinnon, Michael Wiebe and Anita Romaniuk — Ms. Kirby-Yung's grasp of Park Board issues seemed "weak", her address to the crowds at the all-candidates meeting focusing on her work in tourism rather on the very important restoration issues that a Visionless Park Board will face, Sarah Kirby-Yung's candidacy, and my endorsement of her, has become a source of much consternation among dozens of my closest associates who are dedicated to the health of our parks, and community centres.

Nonetheless, although I will continue to endorse Ms. Kirby-Yung — because, I believe, John Coupar needs a majority to implement his programme of change at Park Board — I will not write about her on VanRamblings other than in these two paragraphs.

In respect of the apology, having spoken with Jamie Lee Hamilton, she understands the strategic nature of the decision-making that went in the construction of VanRamblings' Park Board Endorsements List. I will save a lengthier public apology until after the election, as is the case with James Buckshon, an independent candidate for Park Board, although James is significantly less sanguine than Jamie Lee on the issues of "principle".



Posted by Raymond Tomlin at November 12, 2014 3:14 AM in Decision 2014

   

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