Vancouver Park Board and Public Consultation
As our Vancouver readers know, this coming Saturday, November 19th, is municipal election day in British Columbia. A unique feature of Vancouver elections is the ability to vote for Parks Board candidates. We are one of a few (if not the only) municipalities in Canada and the world that elects its parks board.
The Vancouver Park Board has seven elected commissioners who oversees more than 200 parks, including major attractions such as Stanley Park to local neighbourhood parks such as Falaise Park. The board’s official mandate is to “provide, preserve and advocate… to benefit people, communities and the environment.”
Leading up to the election, The Vancouver Public Space Network sent out surveys to the parks board candidates asking their opinion on a variety of issues. The first question is of particular interest to PlaceSpeak as it deals with public engagement.
Here is the question and the candidates’ responses:
1. What is your ultimate model for public engagement to inform Park Board decisions?How would you achieve this?
Upton, Jason (NPA)
I am open to hearing any improvements and if they are obviously sensible – would want to implement them.
Pri Toor, Freyja
A dedicated member from each Neighbourhood Residents Association attend every and all Park Board Hearings and Meetings. This person will then be responsible to take the information back to their individual neighbourhood Residents Association and inform the Public what is happening at the Parks Board. ARKS—the Arbutus Ridge, Kerrisdale Shaughnessy Residents Association—has already taken a step in that direction. The information will also be passed on to all the other Neighbourhood Residents Associations in our City.
Mckinnon, Stuart (Green)
Public engagement can be done in many ways. Open houses, public forums and on-line surveys come to mind. There is no ultimate method; the model has to be multi-dimensional to get as broad a response as possible.
Crawford, Casey (NPA)
We have to be creative and utilize some new technologies to maximize the public input into Park Board decision-making. This could include web-based forums and meetings, telephone town halls, etc. In addition, I would hope to continue the current process of holding Park Board meetings at different locations around the city – and at different times and days of the week. Travelling across town to meet the convenience of the Park Board schedule is not the best way for engaged consultation.
Greenwell-Baker, Donalda and Granby, Brent (COPE)
COPE’s ultimate model of public engagement would consist of a variety of elements tailored to reach the different demographics of residents who make up Vancouver to allow a real dialogue and listening process to build consensus on important issues. Other elements of effective community engagement would be: Sufficient notice to allow residents time and thought on issues that affect them. Provide notice on site if possible onissues relevant in respective neighbourhoods. Expand use of social media to inform, educate and engage. Advertise in community newspapers and bulletins. Host public meeting with Park Commissioners and staff. Improve VPB website for interactive information sharing and eliciting feedback.
Loke, Trevor; Jasper, Aaron; Sharma, Niki; Barnes, Constance; and Sarah Blythe (Vision)
Public input and inclusion is the foundation of a healthy, long-term parks and recreation service in Vancouver. The Vision Park Board led an extensive public consultation process to develop its new 5-year strategic plan. Input was sought from a wide cross-section of community representatives and staff for inclusion into the creation of the Park Board new goals and priorities. Building on that success, we will improve the process for public consultation with regards to all aspect of the Park Board mandate and operations. Vision Vancouver will also utilize technology to ensure that more voices have the opportunity to contribute to public discussions and to have greater impact on the opinions and thedecision-making of Park Board.
NOTE: PlaceSpeak is a non-partisan company that is not officially endorsing any candidates. We present these responses for information purposes only. It is our belief that the more informed the voters are, the better the outcome of the election.