Today, I attended the Stand for Housing at the Little Mountain Housing complex, where 200 of 224 units are now vacant because low-income tenants are being moved out in advance of the property being given over to a private developer by the provincial government – even though the development will not go ahead until at least 2010! This reminded me of the motion that COPE Parks Commissioner Spencer Herbert tried to put forward at the Sept 29 2008 Park Board meeting, resolving that the Park Board request that the city and provincial government work to alleviate the crisis by opening as many existing housing units and shelter beds as possible in the short term, and substantially increase the spped and number of affordable and supportive housing units being built in the long term. NPA Park Board Chair Korina Houghton ruled the motion out of order because it wasn’t part of the Park Board’s mandate! Not only do all of us, as citizens of a rich country, have it as part of our "mandate" to ensure that everyone in Canada is adequately housed, but the Park Board certainly has an interest in housing the homeless – and those at risk of homelessness – because many people end up sleeping on park benches and sheltering overnight in community centre doorways – in the rain and cold – because they have nowhere else to go. It is shameful that the NPA is trying to duck this issue.
Today I also attended a Dim Sum luncheon with people from all over Vancouver and different ethnic backgrounds. On Saturday evening, I attended the Mr/Ms/Miss Gay Vancouver Pageant at the Odyssey. What wonderful diversity we have in Vancouver, and how wonderful to celebrate it! Making sure that all people of all backgrounds have access to parks and recreation facilities and feel safe from homophobic and racist attacks in our parks and rec centres is a very important part of the Park Board’s mandate. And certainly we should all come together to celebrate Vancouver’s diverse cultures – and the Park Board can help facilitate that. Good night!