COPE Park Commissioners Loretta Woodcock and Spencer Herbert say Vancouver Park Board chairperson Korina Houghton overstepped her bounds when she committed the Park Board to backing Mayor Sam Sullivan’s EcoDensity plan, and should now step down as chairperson of the Park Board.
"Commissioner Houghton should have brought this to the Board for discussion and approval before committing to specific actions in Mayor Sullivan’s EcoDensity proposals," said Woodcock. "As the Park Board has not developed a position on EcoDensity, it is irresponsible for Houghton to commit the Board to a plan that we have not considered, and that has yet to be passed by City Council."
At the February 26 Special Council Meeting on EcoDensity, Houghton spoke as "Chair of the Vancouver Park Board" and said "the Park Board is ready to work together with the City to utilize the opportunities provided by EcoDensity."
Sullivan’s controversial EcoDensity scheme has pitted local residents, community groups and a city-wide coalition of 23 neighbourhoods organizations against Sullivan’s plan which they say will lead to a loss of affordable housing and create denser, high-price neighbourhoods, but without adequate amenities such as parks and transit.
"Houghton misrepresented the Board’s views," said Herbert. "The Board has never voted to support, or work with the city on EcoDensity, and yet she claims the Park Board’s support. As chair she has lost my confidence."
Earlier this week, for the first time in a decade, park commissioners voted to reject City Council cuts to the Park Board’s operating budget. Woodcock, who was instrumental in opposing the cuts, argued that Sullivan’s spending on his "pet projects like Eco-Density and civil city is reckless, and that the Park Board is not in the mood to accept efficiency reductions while that kind of spending is taking place at city hall."
Many observers see EcoDensity as a benchmark in the struggle between Sullivan and rival city councillor Peter Ladner for the NPA mayoral nod in this November’s election. Sullivan has said that Houghton supports his bid to stay on as mayor.