Monday, May 29, 2006


Expansion Plans to put Stanley Park in Private Hands

I have concerns over a psuedo public education marine centre, the Vancouver Aquarium, being
allowed to expand into our most cherished public green space. Stanley Park is so beautiful and I don't like the idea of private interests intruding into our publicly
accessible park space. Some will argue that the Aquarium is a non-profit public education body but is it really? If you go to the Aquarium website you will see that it doesn't list a board of directors although it lists Mr. John Nightengale as its President. As we know Mr Nightengale, is the top salaried employee at the Aquarium and hails from the United States of America. Our new park board Chair, Heather Holden, comes from the USA and has been here only a short time yet as Chair, is the most influential member of our elected park board. Ms Holden is also a highly paid salaried employee of the Aquarium. Add to this mix, our Aquarium has legal Ameerican tax status and one begins to wonder who funds our supposed local Aquarium? Moreover, Ms Holden has involved herself in discussions regarding expansion plans of the aquarium at the Park Board level and this is creating havoc among Vancouver's citizenry.

The big question is whether our Stanley Park remains in the hands of the public or in the hands of private interests.

The Aquarium is there to make money. That mean that not all families have the ability or luxury of visiting it. So allowing private interests their
expansion bites into the more affordable public green areas. Once you start down this slippery slope further erosion takes place.

And now we see Stanley Park concessions are becoming available for private interests.
Ms Holden apparently, it has been alleged is behind this move to privatize our beloved historic concessions.

Which brings me to this. You know my family didn't have much money and when my mom and dad took my sister and I to the park, I remember us sharing an order of
fish n chips. Those fish n chips provided affordability to a poorer family such as mine. My fear is that with privatization of those concessions, it may become totally unaffordable for poorer families. I've heard park staff say that the demographics are
changing and that families do not go down to the park much anymore and that they must appeal to the healthier people who use the park. I believe that is a
totally bogus argument and kinda pathetic by inferring that poorer people don't care about their health.

Many family run businesses (cafes) operate on Denman. Will turning these concessions over to private interests, create unfair conditions (competition) for
these small family run cafes on Denman which already pay high rents? For instance will private interests attempt to cash in on their spectacular location in the park and put in patios and develop the concessions by adding a second storey so people can dine in, complete with sweeping views of the water and mountains? Will these private operators still have to have contracts with the park board as is now the case with the concessions?

The privatization plans in Stanley Park need a full public debate. Ultimately, Council is the custodians of our land and if the Parks board begin to sway from acting responsibly for all Vancouver's citizenry then maybe council needs to be the responsible body. By the way during the election, I didn't hear a peep about these
plans coming from the NPA. If this was on the table for the NPA, why wasn't it presented as part of their platform to the people?

Moreover, I don't think Ms Holden should be voting or involved in discussions regarding this issue. There is a perceived conflict and as you know perceived conflict in politics is just as real as real conflict. She as I stated in an earlier post should step down as Park Board Chair. The Chair position provides her immence influence.

Tonite at 7:30 pm May 29 there is a meeting at park board. Please get on the speakers list or just show up to let the other park board members know how horrified you are over the plans to privatize our beloved Jewel.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


Post a Comment

<< Home