NPA park board commissioner Melissa De Genova is seeking legal advice after Vision Vancouver park board chair Sarah Blyth called her a “liar” on Twitter this week.
De Genova is also calling for Blyth’s resignation.
“I didn’t see the remark because Sarah blocked me on Twitter,” De Genova told the Courier Thursday morning. “But I think it’s unbefitting for the chair of the park board to make personal attacks on a commissioner.”
The remark was made on Twitter March 13 in response to a Courier news story in which De Genova accused the Vision Vancouver commissioners on the board of cancelling public consultation regarding a controversial proposed joint operating agreement with the city’s community centre associations. When the Courier posted a link to the story on Twitter, Blyth responded with the comment, “MDG is a liar and its [sic] shameful.” That comment was retweeted by Brent Granby, a city activist and failed park board candidate. On Thursday morning, Blyth’s comment had been removed from Twitter, but Granby’s was still online.
“Her comment is an embarrassment to the entire board,” said De Genova. “I assume what inflamed her were my comments in the story, but I stand by everything I said.”
Blyth said her comment was in response to De Genova calling the park board a “dictatorship.”
“I’m the chair of the board and I was responding to her comments,” said Blyth, who said she took the comment down from Twitter. “And no, I won’t be resigning.”
Park ranger power
The city’s park rangers will soon have the authority to issue tickets for violations including everything from off-leash dog to alcohol/drugs, littering, and feeding wildlife infractions.
The park board voted in favour of the motion brought forward by Vision Vancouver vice-chair Aaron Jasper at Monday night’s meeting. Jasper told me since the rangers can give tickets for smoking violations it made sense to increase their authority. A smoking ban for sports fields, courts and ball diamonds, as well as parks, playgrounds, pathways, trails, the seawall and public golf courses came into effect September 2010. That ban also includes green spaces, access streets, sidewalks and parking lots across the city.
“They’ll approach it the same way they did for the smoking ban,” said Jasper. “This is not about punishing people, but about educating them.”
He added if someone lets their dog run off-leash in an area that mandates leashes, the ranger will approach them and inform them of the bylaw. “They may not know that it’s a leashed area,” said Jasper.
The rangers were used during the 2010 Olympics to help enforce bylaws regarding advertising and unauthorized events in parks.
Jasper says the rangers are trained to call police if someone they approach becomes aggressive, or social services if someone displays symptoms of a mental health issue. He said the rangers will not be put in harms way.
“Everyone should be allowed to enjoy our parks or fields in a safe, peaceable way,” Jasper said. “No one should feel intimidated.”
He said prior to increasing the responsibilities of the rangers, the bylaws will be reviewed and updated. He expects the park rangers will have the ability to issue bylaw tickets for these extra infractions by the fall.