Hastings Park governance decision on hold

I had hoped to update readers with the results of the Hastings Park governance issue in this column, but the city deferred the decision until Aug. 1.

As I pointed out in a page one story in Wednesdays Courier, Hastings Park is governed by the non-profit PNEs board of directors. But its undergoing a massive $310.5 million redevelopment so the question of who should manage the park is on the table.

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While city staff and an independent auditor have recommended the governance remain with the PNE, some residents and community groups want the park board to take control. And the park board has said publicly it wants the job. A third option is to have a city department, such as engineering, manage the property.

STANLEY PARK STABBING

I didnt have many details prior to the Couriers press deadline, but a 24-year-old man was in custody Thursday after slashing a 33-year-old man in the neck Wednesday night in an area between Second and Third beaches.

RACCOON RANGERS

You might think its common knowledge that its not a good idea to feed the many raccoons that wander Stanley Park, but apparently thats not the case. So the Stanley Park Ecology Society has enlisted the help of a new raccoon recruit to get that message out. Beginning this week, with the help of a human interpreter, this new recruit, basically a human in a raccoon costume, will engage, entertain and educate visitors to Prospect Point as part of a summer-long park interpretation project delivered by the society.

The goal is to answer visitors questions about raccoons and other urban wildlife as a way of limiting human and animal conflicts in Stanley Park.

According to the society, raccoons are curious and intelligent wild animals that are highly adaptable to living in developed areas near humans. They take advantage of any available food, including easy meals handed out by park visitors, which is not a healthy staple of their diet and also decreases their fear of humans. That combination increases their chance of being injured or posing a danger to humans.

The launch of the raccoon interpretation station is the newest addition to the societys eco ranger program, now in its 13th year.

While the raccoon program might be interesting, what I find even more intriguing is the eco ranger program. The societys eco rangers are made up of volunteers from Canada and abroad, including Kenya, Switzerland, Taiwan Australia, Italy and Belgium, who combined speak more than 15 different languages in addition to English. In the summer months Eco Rangers work in pairs as roving naturalists in the park and at interpretive stations at Prospect Point, Beaver Lake, Malkin Bowl and Second Beach, answering visitors questions about local animals, plants and cultural history. One of their main goals is to educate visitors on appropriate behaviour in the park, such as not feeding wildlife. Watch for eco rangers in Stanley Park, in bright green shirts and hats, every Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

sthomas@vancourier.com

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