Vancouver NPA Park Board chairperson Ian Robertson is unilaterally ruling out of order a motion by COPE Park Commissioners Loretta Woodcock and Spencer Herbert that would protect Pacific Spirit Park. Their motion asks the Vancouver Park Board to oppose any portion of the 2000-acre publicly owned park from being used as a bargaining chip in negotiations over the future of the University Golf Course.
NPA Commissioner Marty Zlotnik floated a proposal to trade land in Pacific Spirit Park in order to keep the current status of the privately owned University Golf Course. The future of the golf course has been uncertain since land claims negotiations gave control of the facility to the Musqueam First Nations.
Woodcock and Herbert also want Vancouver City Council to advise the Metro Vancouver Park Committee of the Board’s motion. Pacific Spirit Regional Park is governed by the Metro Vancouver Park Committee that is made up of member municipalities. Vancouver Cllr Elizabeth Ball is Vancouver’s representative on the Committee.
Robertson says that fellow NPA Commissioner Zlotnik “was making the comments as a citizen of Vancouver which he has the right to do.”
If people are concerned about Zlotnik’s plan, Robertson suggests “residents should contact Marty personally and tell him what they think of the idea.”
Commissioner Woodcock, however, disagrees.
"When there is a public debate sparked by a proposal by an elected Park Board Commissioner to trade away part of a public park, that question should and must be addressed by the Vancouver Park Board. For Robertson to claim that Zlotnik is simply acting as a private citizen, when he makes public statements on the future of a public park, is disingenuous and misleading. "
"In ruling our motion out of order Robertson is attempting to cover up for his NPA colleague Zlotnik,” said Woodcock. “ More importantly, Robertson’s refusal to allow discussion on this issue is an attempt to silence the public who are understandably concerned about a possible giveaway of a public asset and the precedent this could set for the entire public park system in Vancouver."
There has been considerable public outrage and concern over Zlotnik’s giveaway plan.
"Where do we go to have our voices heard?" asked Shelagh Dodd, of the newly formed "Friends of Pacific Spirit Park".
"I have been talking to people while walking the trails of Pacific Spirit and they are furious over the proposal to develop even one square inch of Pacific Spirit Park".
Pacific Spirit Park borders on Vancouver’s western boundary and is visited by more than 1.5 million people every year.