Central Park: NPArks

Last week the NPA released what it calls a "common sense" platform which promises to "restore independence" to the park board, generate new revenue opportunities and ensure parks, gardens and recreation facilities are maintained.

Park maintenance has been a hot-button topic this past year with residents across the city complaining about long grass in city parks and on sports fields making their use difficult, if not impossible.

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I'd also like maintenance increased in city parks and at community centres, but with the city increasingly taking charge of the park board's purse strings, I might as well be asking for a pony. (There's a thought: perhaps much like the goats at city hall, ponies could be brought in to keep grass at a reasonable length in city parks.)

The NPA team running for park board includes John Coupar, probably best known for helping save the Bloedel Floral Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park; Casey Crawford, a "customer relationship professional" and community volunteer; Melissa De Genova, daughter of former longtime park board commissioner Allan De Genova; Gabby Kalaw, a technology sales professional and "recreation advocate"; Dave Pasin, president of InTech Environmental Canada Corp, makers of "green" solvents and an advocate of amateur sports and community centres; as well as Jason Upton, a life-long Vancouverite and "supporter of Vancouver's parks."

Some of the highlights of the NPA's park board platform include restoring funding to community centres, developing an educational working farm, establishing a bike rental service in some Vancouver parks, supporting the long-awaited seniors centre in southeast Vancouver and reviewing the decision to close the Mount Pleasant outdoor pool. By the way, the community group Friends of Mount Pleasant Pool is so far endorsing Upton along with the Green Party's Stuart Mackinnon and Jamie Lee Hamilton from the recently formed IDEA Party.

I'll highlight other political party's park board platforms in this space leading up to the Nov. 19 municipal election.

Field of dreams

Speaking of Jamie Lee Hamilton-I received an email from her just moments after an email from Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Sarah Blyth regarding potential future uses for the city's field houses, many of which sit empty.

Blyth is excited because her dream of using the vacant field houses for community arts and sports projects is one step closer to reality.

Artists from the Urban Weaver Project are working out of the field house at McLean Park, located near the Strathcona Community Centre, turning invasive plants into works of art.

The McLean Park field house is included in this year's Eastside Culture Crawl Nov. 18 to 20, so participants are welcome to check out the building and decide for themselves if the plan is feasible.

Hamilton wants field houses used to help ease the city's lack of affordable housing.

She says the city's focus has largely been on street homelessness, but adds young people, seniors and low-wage earners need affordable housing.

Hamilton was to make an announcement about her proposal Tuesday afternoon in front of the Kitsilano Park field house on Maple Street, after the Courier's press deadline.

She says her plan will help combat high housing prices and create 24-hour security in city parks.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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