Vancouver Park Board commissioner apologizes for 'naming' comments

George Wainborn was city's longest-serving park board commissioner

Vision Vancouver park board vice-chair Aaron Jasper has apologized to the families of two former park board commissioners for comments he made last week which he says were taken out of context.

Im not making any excuses, said Jasper. My comments were not well thought out, and I apologize for that.

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The Vision Vancouver-dominated park board is considering changing the way it names public spaces and parks. In response to negative comments about the proposal, Jasper told the Georgia Straight newspaper last week, We dont want to return to the days where park board commissioners are naming parks after themselves, which is what we saw with George Wainborn Park and Andy Livingston [Park]a bunch of commissioners sitting around deciding which park they were going to name after themselves.

Jasper said he never meant to infer Wainborn and Livingstone werent worthy of the honour, but instead that such decisions should be made by the community and not by politicians.

I clearly did not articulate that well, Jasper told the Courier Thursday morning. The point I was trying to make is that it was their colleagues who made that decision and the process is flawed. Both of these men clearly deserve the honour.

George Wainborn, who died in 2003, was Vancouvers longest-serving park board commissioner, sitting for 33 years until he retired in 1990. Wainborn was also responsible for the creation of the Miniature Railway in Stanley Park, the launch of the carol ships and the annual lighting of the elm grove at English Bay at Christmas time. Wainborn was recognized in 1991 with the Freedom of the City award and in 1999 received the Order of Canada. George Wainborn Park opened in 2004 at the south end of Richards Street.

Andy Livingstone was a park board commissioner from 1969 to 1988. Andy Livingstone Park, located on Expo Boulevard under the Georgia Street Viaduct, opened in 1995 and was paid for through community amenity contributions from developer Concord Pacific.

At Monday nights park board meeting NPA commissioner John Coupar called Jasper out for his comments and brought forward a 600-word notice of motion calling for Jasper to be censured and required to apologize to the families of the former commissioners.

When the Courier reached Coupar Thursday morning and told him about Jaspers apology, he gave his fellow commissioner credit for stepping up.

I thought his comments were extremely disrespectful, said Coupar. There are certain lines you should never cross. George [Wainborn] served on the park board for 33 years. If anyone deserves to have a park named after him its George.

Coupar said he likely wont insist on any further action now that Jasper has apologized.

We all make mistakes, said Coupar.

Jasper questioned Coupars public attempt to shame him.

If the role had been reversed I would have called John up and told him how wrong I thought he was, said Jasper. I wish hed given me the benefit of the doubt and gave me a call.

Coupars notice of motion is expected to be on the agenda of the April 16 park board meeting.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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