Thursday, January 22, 2009


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


On Monday evening Jan 19, 2009, I attended the Vancouver Park Board Meeting which had on its agenda, a proposal by Park board staff to amend the Vancouver Charter giving the City regulatory control over signage and advertising in our parks and community centres.

What's really perplexing about this proposal is that through our Park board by-laws (different from the Charter), the Park Board already has this ability to regulate signs in the parks and so it seemed odd that the Staff were asking Commissioners to approve amending the Vancouver Charter.

Park Board can make changes to its by-laws as it sees fit. This by-law process allows future Park boards if by-law changes are deemed unpopular with the public to scrap, alter or make changes to them. In essence this process of by-law-making keeps power vested with our elected representatives and not staff.

With the proposal to amend the Charter, this would provide enormous influence and clout to staff and lessen the power of our elected representatives. If this proposal moves forward future Park boards would have their hands tied as they would need to be compliant with the Charter.

There was another issue on the Park board agenda Monday night including preserving the Stanley Park Hollow Tree.

The Hollow Tree issue was given major play by the press and the Charter amendment was virtually given zero coverage. Even the Georgia Straight which offers the public an alternative voice seemed to fall lock-step with other media giving the Hollow Tree the bulk of the coverage except for a short four sentences with absolute no analysis on what this Park Board Charter Amendment would mean to Vancouver residents.

The outcome of the meeting and which a number of delegations spoke asking for deferral of the staff recommendation was thankfully carried by Park Board in a 6 to 1vote. This will allow the public more time to be heard.

Because the media have deemed this serious issue of a Charter Amendment unimportant, it makes the task of getting the word out to the public that much more difficult.

Make no mistake folks if a Vancouver Charter Amendment passes this has the potential to forever change the nature of our Parks and Recreation system.

Can you imagine a sign saying Welcome to Coca-Cola Stanley Park. Well it can happen and the Board would have no authority because the Charter would permit it.

Because this issue of a Charter Amendment will quickly re-emerge on the park board agenda, most likely in two weeks time, neighborhood groups and individuals need to come together very quickly to discuss this proposal which also many believe will lead to the Corporatization of our parks and recreation system.

An information and strategy meeting will be held this coming Monday Jan 26, 2009, at 7 pm in the private VIP room at Kentizen located in Tinseltown Mall on the second floor at 88 West Pender Street. This venue is wheelchair accessible and there is free underground parking. Many buses stop in front of Tinseltown and the Stadium Sky-train Station is across the street.

Complimentary chinese tea and rice will be served.

Please pass this notice along to your contacts and networks and I encourage you to attend. If you could confirm your attendance that would be great.

Jamie Lee Hamilton