Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


I attended the inaugural Park board meeting yesterday as there was an important item on the agenda.

Senior staff at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation are implementing a project on behalf of the Province of BC which provides free outdoor equipment to Seniors.

Choosing a park where the free equipment is to be placed, staff chose Tisdall Park in Oakridge. They looked at other areas including Killarney, Trout Lake and a few others but completely omitted Strathcona.

Strathcona in fact wasn't even looked at.

Strathcona percentage wise has the highest amount of Seniors at 24%. Oakride has 19% and the others areas considered by staff have much lower populations of seniors.

I brought to the attention of the Commissioners that the median household income in Oakridge is $54,000 while Strathcona has a median household income of $15,000.

I posed my concerns that income wasn't factored in to the decision-making process and I questioned why.

Commissioners asked staff whether income levels was one of the criterias in allocating the provincial windfall. Staff said they did not look at income level as a criteria for their decision making.

A number of issues come to mind as a result.

One is that the process implemented to award the free access to equipment was flawed from the beginning to its conclusion.

Commissioners at the very least should have sent this matter back for further staff review after first outlining a proper process they could follow, especially when awarding community benefits.

Instead we now have a perception created that the Government of BC has engaged in pork-barrelling since the park location and free access to equipment is a BC Liberal stronghold.

While I have sympathy for the elected Commissioners since five of them are brand new to Park Board, the Park Board Vice-Chair, Commissioner Woodcock should know better.

The staff work on this file left a lot to be desired. In fact it was terribly sloppy.

In awarding $125,000.00 of the public dollars one would think our elected Commissioners would stand up for the public interest even if this means challenging staff to do better work.

Jamie Lee Hamilton