Monday, April 16, 2012

Lack of Civility at Park Board Now the Norm

Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC

April 16, 2012


Vancouver Park Board has spiralled to a new low. Instead of addressing serious issues like service cutbacks to community centres, cuts to children's summer camp program funding, eliminating the children's farmyard and petting zoo, implementing user fees for toddlers when previously there were none and closing park washrooms, instead, Park board is caught up in changing the park naming process to ensure park naming for friends, and political insiders. Park Commissioners in a blatant display of silliness are now-a-days whacking each other over the head in efforts to have political colleagues recognized in a manner with flies in the face of what public service actually means. It seems the Commissioners are engaged in some out-of-control egomania which is causing the public to lose faith in our elected board. Serving on the Park board means working to ensure that park programs are maintained, our parks remain safe and available for public use, new parks are created and never should Park board be used as a political platform for cronyism which now seems to be the case.

On April 16, 2012 Commissioner John Coupar is bringing forth a motion that demands that two individuals connected to his political party the NPA are recognized in some public way. The two individuals, long serving park board Commissioners George Wainborn and Andy Livingstone already each have a park named after them so why Mr Coupar is seeking further recognition for them seems bizarre. Moreover, it is clearly inappropriate as is a motion previously announced by Vision Commissioner Sarah Blyth who is lobbying to have a park named after her former colleague City Councillor , the late Jim Green who is the co-founder of Vision Vancouver. In fact, the late Mr Green had no involvement what-so-ever in park board issues.

Already an inordinate and unecessary amount of time is being wasted by the Commissioners in attempt to reward their political friends. Valuable staff resources are being drawn upon so that Commissioners can meet their objectives of creating public monuments for their political allies.

Of course the public is being inconvenienced to no end as we must continually address our displeasure regarding ongoing stupidity at Park board. Due to Park Board ineptness, meetings now routinely last until midnight which is a real inconvenience for the public. Plus park board staff are required to be at the entire meeting. This usually means a dozen staff are present. and consequently staff overtime costs are soaring

The lateness of the meetings are a direct result of Park Board incompetence. The Board eliminated two committees which previously met on different days than the Board meeting. The creation of one super park committee which all members of Park board must sit on was mandated by the Board to meet directly before the Monday Board meeting.

Park board has also requested a staff report to look into starting Board meetings thirty minutes before the normal 7 pm start time. This will truly inconvenience the public who normally are sitting down at this time for supper. It seems like a crass move on the part of Park Board to silence the public who are increasingly agitated and raising concerns about the continued erosion of democracy and creeping in of nepotism at Park Board.

Another example of the ongoing silliness at Park board was the recent change in seating arrangement of park Commissioners. With this change there has to be a 15 minute break between the Committee and Board meetings as Commissioners seats are different between the two meetings which makes no sense at all as it is the same business on the agendas. Furthermore this issue took up an hour of debate as the Commissioners had their turns voicing their opinions about this new seating arrangement., Moreover, this issue was raised again at the last meeting and a repquest for the Committee chair to look once again into this matter. Needless to say this new seating debate really irritated the public delegations present who were patiently waiting to speak on a far more important issue which was the elimination of lifeguards at public beaches.

At future Park board meetings one can expect to see even more of this ongoing silliness and stupidity from the Commissioners as their entire focus seems directed toward creating favours for friends rather than actually getting down and doing the public's business which is quite the shame since the Vancouver park Board is the only elected park board in Canada but the way our current crop of politicians are acting out what seems a given is there will continue to be a lack of civility and an erosion of fairness and democracy at Park Board.

Jamie Lee Hamilton