Central Park

VISION'S VISION

Following on the heels of the NPA's platform released last week, Vision Vancouver released its ambitious park board platform this week with a promise to make this city more affordable, livable and green.

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Highlights of the platform include a three-year plan to make programs affordable for all residents by offering free family days at recreation facilities; protecting the city's green spaces by identifying and developing "pocket parks" and improving off-leash dog policies; making arts and culture central to community centre programming with expansions of the Artists in Communities and Street Entertainment programs; following through on the city's Greenest Action Plan; focusing on front-line services and fiscal responsibility; supporting youth in our communities by introducing more youth-themed parks, including skateboarding and BMX biking; and enhancing citizen participation in the parks system.

Vision has an experienced team running for park board. It includes incumbents Constance Barnes who is active in many community causes, including childcare; Sarah Blyth who has an interest in youth and homelessness; and Aaron Jasper, who currently sits as chair of the board. Newcomers include Trevor Loke, who works at the Dr. Peter Centre and is involved with community sport, and Niki Sharma, a lawyer practicing aboriginal law with an interest in human rights. No over achiever, Sharma also has a degree in environmental biology and plans to use that expertise on green issues. Sharma was a former parliamentary intern with the Parliamentary Monitoring Group in South Africa.

GREEN DREAM

The Green Party's lone candidate for park board is incumbent Stuart Mackinnon, who wants proper maintenance of recreational facilities, such as community centres, and the construction of a new outdoor pool at Mount Pleasant Park.

Mackinnon wants to end what he calls the commercialization of parks. He also wants to promote the sharing of green spaces between athletes, the general public and dog owners. Mackinnon believes public input and transparency at the park board is vital, that infrastructure must be renewed on an ongoing basis and that public facilities be accessible to all, regardless of income, mobility or age.

The schoolteacher also has specific goals, which include renewing the Kerrisdale ice arena, working to get that long-awaited seniors centre built in the southeast corner of the city and expanding the network of the city's safe, clean public washrooms.

LIFE'S A BEACH

I also heard from independent park board candidate Andrew Murray who sent me an email outlining his campaign goals and his concerns about the park board. The longtime Vancouverite says he would use his education and experience in business and financial administration to help balance the park board's budget while meeting the needs of residents across the city.

Murray is concerned with what he sees as the commercialization of our city's beaches. He cites as an example the park board's approval to allow what he calls a "cookie cutter chain restaurant" at English Bay. Murray also addressed the issue of the outdoor pool, or lack thereof, at Mount Pleasant Park. He brought up a good point when he says kids don't need all the bells and whistles. "As a kid all I wanted was a pool and a diving board and I was happy, as I bet local residents would be, too," he wrote in his email.

sthomas@vancourier.com Twitter: @sthomas10

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