"Did you hear the one about getting rid of baseball diamonds? Or selling the trees in Stanley Park to a lumber company?
"It seems strange, but these are concerns, real or imagined, I have heard from people about Park Board decisions," said COPE Park Commissioner Spencer Herbert. "People come into a process angry that nobody has informed them of what is going on. But once I can tell them what’s really happening, tension goes down and we can start to work on solutions. "
COPE Commissioners Herbert and Loretta Woodcock want to make it easier for the public to find out what is going on at the Park Board.
In a motion going before the Board’s March 06 meeting, Herbert will ask staff to develop a system whereby Vancouver residents can sign up for emails that will alert them about what’s happening at the Board, or to inform groups with a particular interest such as in field sports, or arts and culture in the Park system.
The Park Board now uses a passive system of ads in community newspapers, posters, and the Board’s website to send notices of public consultations and to report decisions. Often the only way the public can find out what is going on is to monitor the Park Board website every week.
"For many7 people who are active in their communities, and balancing full time work and families, this is hard to do," said COPE Commissioner Woodcock. "We need to actively support public involvement by directly advising people of how they can be part of making their community better."
Herbert describes the Board’s current notification system as "shotgun style."
"We spray out notifications with newspaper ads and posters in parks, " said Herbert. "If you happen to see the inside pages of your local paper, and notice in the bottom corner the ad, you’re lucky. But with so much going on, it’s easy for many people to miss these notices.
"With this new system we can personalize notification and use the internet to reach people and include them in Park Board dialogue. It also allows us to involve the community with smaller changes to parks in a more democratic, and cost effective manner.
"While the fun of my job in responding to all sorts of wild and wonderful scenarios about neighborhood rinks and parks will go down, service to the public will be greatly improved, " said Herbert.