VANCOUVER’S BETTER WITH A COPE PARK BOARD

2005 COPE Park Board Platform:

A RECORD OF SUCCESS – A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

Vancouver’s park and recreation system is a key component of a healthy lifestyle for many city residents who use the park system for biking along the seawall to taking exercise lessons at a community centre. The Park Board is a unique elected body responsible for Vancouver’s 130,000 street trees, 400 playing fields, 210 parks, 200 tennis courts, 150 playgrounds, 23 community centres, 15 swimming pools, 8 ice rinks, and the Van Dusen Botanical Garden. These publicly owned parks and facilities are open to everyone.

During their historic time in office, the strong COPE majority Park Board has been highly effective in managing the parks and recreation system for every Vancouver neighbourhood. The Board’s goal of individual wellness is being met by providing quality services, environmental and economic sustainability, and democratic government.

COPE’s greatest achievement has been the provision of quality services to the public. From expanded and new community centres to better wheelchair access to providing more off-leash dog areas, the COPE-led Park Board has been meeting the needs of Vancouver residents. The needs of youth, families, and seniors are being identified and met by COPE Commissioners in contrast to a 2002 – 2005 NPA Commissioner who opposed a crosswalk to a new community centre, a licence for the Strathcona Community Gardens, and accessible changing rooms at the Renfrew Community Centre. Park and recreation services are better under a COPE majority Park Board.

Environmental and economic sustainability have been improved through several important initiatives, which have increased revenues and saved taxpayers’ dollars, while ensuring the long-term maintenance of the city’s natural environment. COPE’s entrepreneurial approach has resulted in a significant increase in donations to the Park Board. The implementation of the Cool Vancouver Climate Change Plan has made the Park Board an active participant in helping Vancouver meet our international commitments to address climate change. Implementing green building technologies and preserving and enhancing natural habitat demonstrate COPE’s commitment to the environment. Recycling and re-using materials is good both for the planet and the pocketbook. Unlike the NPA, sustainability has been much more than just an empty buzz word under COPE management.

COPE Park Commissioners have implemented principles of fairness, inclusiveness, and accountability as part of the democratic process in contrast to the NPA’s closed door mentality. In 2003, a NPA Commissioner opposed a Freedom of Information Act for the Board, as proposed and passed by COPE Commissioners. COPE has enhanced public participation and access to the Park Board. Working together, the Park Board is listening to the public with a keen ear and an open mind. Respect for the public has been the hallmark of COPE’s approach to planning and consultation. Celebrating Vancouver’s cultural diversity in our parks continues to be a key goal of COPE Park Commissioners. Improving Vancouver’s park and recreation system as safe, welcoming, and physically accessible is an ongoing COPE legacy.

COPE Park Commissioners believe that the public must play an active role in shaping publicly owned facilities and are committed to building community spirit and pride in our city’s diversity reflecting the true nature of Vancouver as a healthy and natural city. COPE Park Commissioners will continue to ensure that Vancouver has the park system that makes it one of the most livable cities in the world. COPE-led City Council, School and Park Board have worked closely together to produce cost-savings and high quality public services.

QUALITY PUBLIC SERVICES FOR EVERYBODY

A Record of Success: Using Co-operative Public Consultation to Meet Neighbourhood Needs

Park Commissioner Loretta Woodcock: Ensuring cultural diversity and ecological sustainability in our park system have been two of my proudest achievements during my term on the Park Board.

The mandate of the COPE-led Park Board has been to provide quality public services, which range from playing fields for women’s soccer to children’s playgrounds to ice rinks for hockey games. These quality services were provided within a framework of fiscal responsibility and public consultation and include:
* Championing the inclusion of 26 acres of park and a 30,000 sq. ft. community centre at the future Southeast False Creek development opposed by the NPA;
* Rebuilding and expanding the Killarney Pool (completion January 2006);
* Extending off leash hours for dog parks, promoting public education for dog owners, and implementing the pilot project at Trout Lake where a living fence woven from willow branches separates an off-leash dog area from bird habitat. The Park Board approved a city wide review of off leash parks;
* Expanding wheelchair access in our parks and introduced universal design principles to accommodate all members of the public regardless of physical and mental ability;
* Initiating community consultation for the future East Fraserlands development with the intention of securing sufficient parks and public facilities;
* Establishing a new artificial turf playing field in Pt. Grey using a cooperative approach embraced by the community (completion December 2005);
* Establishing two Ultimate fields at West 37th Ave and Oak Street for 2006;
* Establishing skateboard parks at Georgia Viaduct, Strathcona, & Quilchena;
* Extensively renovating the Renfrew Pool and installing accessible change rooms;
* Expanding the Champlain Community Centre including child care facilities;
* Completing the Millennium Lawn Bowling & Gymnastics facility at Riley Park; and
* Establishing new or renovating parks including Emery Barnes, Sahali, Tea Swamp, Strathcona, Heather, George Wainborne, David Lam Phase Two, and Kingcrest.

A Plan for the Future: COPE Priorities for Public Services in 2005 – 2008

COPE Park Commissioners are committed to growing the park system by:
* Continuing to renew and expand community centres, ice rinks, swimming pools, and fitness centres including (but not limited to): two new ice rinks at Killarney and Trout Lake, the Hillcrest Legacy, and completion of the new Sunset and 1 Kingsway Community Centres.
* Continuing to renovate playing fields and build new Artificial Turf fields in suitable neighbourhoods;
* Implementing the Four Paws Strategy: continue to expand the current process of site evaluation of dog parks, meaningful public consultation, new off leash designations, and public education;
* Continuing to identify sites for, and build or renovate new skateboard and BMX bike facilities in parks and expanding late-evening recreation and program opportunities for youth and young adults; and
* Promoting healthy lifestyles in our parks and recreation facilities by expanding arts programs, incorporating cultural diversity into park and recreation programs and adopting building designs that meet everyone’s needs.

ENSURING CLEAN & SUSTAINABLE PARKS

A Record of Achievement: COPE Improves Economic and Environmental Sustainability

COPE Commissioners championed environmental and economic sustainability in the Vancouver park system. Prudent financial management has been coupled with an environmental ethic. The combination of these two principles is best exemplified in reduced energy and water consumption through green building design, which saves taxpayer dollars while protecting the environment. Accomplishments of the COPE-led Park Board include:
* Incorporating an entrepreneurial approach with the hiring of a new Fundraiser/Development consultant, who tripled the proceeds for donations to the Park Board and raised more than $600,000 in just nine months;
* Creating a plan to prevent and combat wildfires in Vancouver’s parks;
* Keeping annual operating expenses and annual inflationary fee increases for facilities and programs within the target inflationary increases set by the City, while rolling back an NPA-approved seven per cent increase in seniors fees for golfing, swimming, and fitness centres in 2003;
* Creating an adequate cost escalation contingency fund in the Capital Plan;
* Approving a loan from the Park Board’s reserve donor and sponsorship funds to build a celebration pavilion in Queen Elizabeth Park, which is expected to earn back the loan within 10 years and provide additional operating funds to the Park Board from rentals for weddings and other events; and
* Reducing energy and water use in facilities and parks, and adopting the LEED gold standard for new facilities, thus reducing future operating costs as well as reducing environmental impact.

A Plan for the Future: Continued Strong Fiscal Management and Improved Environmental Practices

A COPE Park Board will continue strong fiscal management and improved environmental practices including:
* Expanding the use of green building technology and energy and water conservation;
* Implementing practices that preserve and enhance natural habitat,
* Expanding the use of local plant materials in gardening and environmental art projects;
* Promoting diversion of rainwater into daylighted streams, as well as the re-use of rainwater for irrigation;
* Promoting bike friendly parks and recreation facilities;
* Expanding recycling and re-use of materials;
* Promoting and facilitating community gardens; and
* A continued commitment to Cool Vancouver Climate Change plan with the goal of reducing greenhouse gases.

IT’S YOUR PARK BOARD!

A Record of Achievement: Improved Public Participation and Accountability

Candidate Spencer Herbert: As an artist and community developer, I will bring our communities together through arts and recreation.

After taking office in 2002, one of COPE’s first initiatives was to make Park Board meetings more accessible and accountable to the public. The COPE-led Board also accomplished the following:
* Moved Park Board meetings into community centres and creating an open question period;
* Re-established three Park Board committees to improve informal dialogue between Commissioners and communities;
* Held public open houses for planning the operating budget, choosing locations for new facilities, expanding off leash dog areas, etc.;
* Implemented an ethical procurement policy;
* Gave extensive public notice of Park Board meetings with full access to the agenda in advance of the meeting;
* Created a planning strategy for the 2010 Olympics;
* Approved a plebiscite for the 2008 Civic Election on whether or not to phase out the containment of whales and dolphins in Stanley Park; and
* Gave more flexibility to register for public presentations to the Board.

A Plan for the Future: Continued Meaningful Public Consultation

Creating livable neighbourhoods through public consultation is an ongoing goal of COPE Park Commissioners. COPE is committed to full and open public participation in planning our parks and will continue to value diversity that reflects Vancouver’s true nature. COPE’s commitments include:
* Keeping parks and facilities affordable for working families. COPE Park Commissioners are committed to seeking additional funding to lower fees for seniors and youth;
* Ensuring dog owners have adequate and safe off-leash spaces by balancing competing interests for park use through community participation in planning off leash areas;
* Ensuring that Community Centre Associations are active partners in implementing joint services;
* Developing guidelines for waterfront and shoreline activities through the new Waterfront Planning Study;
* Exploring ways to make it easier to start a community garden;
* Working with non-profit and cultural groups to promote family events in parks; and
* Enhancing youth programming in parks and recreation centres by listening to youth.

Park Board Issues