Sunday, November 02, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC

A Compassionate Vancouver

Today at the Roundhouse, a spirited and lively meeting took place which I believed defined where candidates stand on issues.

I spoke about a Compassionate Vancouver where everyone has access to our parks and recreation system. Poor or homeless people should not need to come begging as they do now for access to our public spaces.

On seniors issues the NPA continues to come across as unfeeling toward our seniors. The NPA wants to erode the seniors subsidized passes and NPA candidate Laura McDiarmid articulated how seniors and the poor can obtain access cards.

Sharon Urton and Christopher Richardson of the NPA actually distanced themselves from the NPA position and deserve full credit for this. Ms McDiarmid on the other hand doesn't understand that people having to beg does nothing for one's self-respect.

Loretta Woodcock of COPE came across passionately except on the off-leash dog issue. She firmly articulated that seniors should not see a drop in their subsidized passes. Ms Woodcock came out swinging at the NPA and this set the mood of the meeting as it allowed candidates to stake our positions and showcase our differences.

Regarding off-leash dog areas which has become a hot-button park issue, Commissioner Woodcock favours more enforcement. Not sure though if this is what we need. I believe properly educating the public on what being a responsible dog owner entails is a better option. Also making available biodegradable doggie-bag dispensers in our parks would address safety and heath concerns for citizens. I favor more off-leash parks since I prefer dog owners to walk their dogs to community parks instead of driving to out-of-reach designated dog parks. With the enforcement issue what concerns me is that what comes next? Doggie tazers to tame dogs?

Another top issue at the Roundhouse meeting was poverty and homelessness. Many of the candidates expressed the need for better supports, however, when the question was put to panelists on what constitutes an appropriate level of financial support, former Commissioner McDiarmid was the first to answer. She articulated her history of working for 25 years with the Ministry of Human resources, however, she continuously danced around the question which prompted a rebuke from the questioner to answer the question on what is the bottom line for suitable means of support.

We all know that welfare and disability rates are far too low and the Park board can advocate for increased welfare rates and we must do so immediately. This should be a priority for Park board and it costs us nothing to take this political position.

As a park board we need to champion for all citizens including our poorer ones. Children living in poverty, at-risk street youth, including aboriginal youth and families need and deserve far greater support than we currently provide.

We must expand the role of Park board to address these pressing social issues and this is what my Queen of the Parks stands for. The Workless party's Ivan Doumenc articulated this same philosophy and deserves full marks for doing so.

Aaron Jasper running under the Vision banner spoke passionately about his community work advocating on these social issues. Mr Jasper comes across as someone who will work across partisan lines to bring about positive change for our neediest citizens.

A good meeting and I'm glad I was there. Thank You to the Roundhouse and Elizabeth Snow for inviting me.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


At 7:31 AM, Blogger Ivan said...

Jamie Lee,

I would like us to continue this exchange about homelessness, either before of after the municipal election.

Homelessness is not taken seriously at all in Vancouver. Trees get more attention than homeless people. It's a disgrace.

I am really interested in your Queen of Parks initiative and would like to explore how the Work Less Party can collaborate.

Ivan Doumenc
Vancouver Park Board candidate
Work less Party


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