Medallion for an Italian
I’m playing a little catch up here after having been out of the office for a week.
On Saturday Oct. 6, I attended an event at the Italian Cultural Centre during which former park board commissioner Allan De Genova was awarded a medal and named Italian-Canadian of the year at the 108th Columbus Day Banquet hosted by the Confratellanza Italo-Canadese. The Vancouver-based society is dedicated to the preservation of Italian cultural heritage and advancing the interest of the Italian-Canadian community while ensuring that, as a group, Italian-Canadians are contributing to the enrichment of their community and nation.
During the banquet, De Genova was lauded by a representative from the Prime Minister’s office as well as Italian Consul General Fabrizio Inserra. Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent along his best wishes in the form of a letter, which read in part, “His dedication to the community and his generosity and service to others have earned him the respect and gratitude of his fellow citizens and are most deserving of this special recognition.”
Also attending the dinner were many MPs and MLAs from across the province as well as several members of Vancouver city council and the park board.
While De Genova’s long-time service to the park board was one of the contributing factors towards him receiving the award, it was his commitment to Honour House that was most recognized. Filling the tables near the front of the stage were first responders from police, fire and ambulance.
De Genova, a Vancouver realtor, sat on the park board for 15 years, during which he helped save Nat Bailey Stadium from demolition, led the restoration of Victory Square in the Downtown Eastside and supported the creation of the Italian Gardens in Hastings Park. But De Genova’s proudest moments in recent history have been as president of the Honour House Society, which opened a renovated aging mansion in New Westminster last year as a home away from home for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, emergency first responders and their families while receiving treatment for illness or injury in Metro Vancouver.
De Genova is in good company. Past recipients of the award include Lui Passaglia, Tony Parsons, Luigi Aquilini, Angelo Branca, Bob Lenarduzzi, Michael Cuccione and Michael Bublé.
City park protection
At Monday night’s park board meeting, NPA commissioner John Coupar successfully brought forward a motion that will enhance the protection of public parks and green space in Vancouver.
Back in July, Coupar told me he was concerned because he had discovered any park or green space can be taken out of the city’s inventory by a simple two-thirds majority vote at the park board or city council. He noted Vision Vancouver holds that very majority.
It was real estate speculation regarding the future of the Langara Golf Course that prompted Coupar to research how Vancouver’s parks are protected. The park board is considering reclaiming part of the course as parkland, while others feel it should be opened up to housing and development.
Coupar’s motion asks that staff work with the city’s legal department to develop strategies and legal means to ensure parks and green spaces are protected in perpetuity and that the public be updated on the progress of the initiative every six months.