Statement of Vancouver & District Labour Council Executive Board re: Vancouver Park Board
We are alarmed by Mayor Sim’s December 6th announcement of ABC’s intention to abolish the elected Vancouver Park Board.
The Park Board has a history spanning over 130 years and is one of the most significant public bodies in the City of Vancouver. It is true that many feel the time has come for a discussion about the future of the Park Board. However, even if you believe the Park Board should be abolished, the actions of Mayor Sim and the ABC City Council should be a serious concern.
In 2022, Vancouver residents elected a Park Board with an ABC majority which had promised to “fix” the Board. Nobody was elected with a mandate to abolish the Park Board. While this was an early position of ABC, it was not the position communicated to the voting public during the election campaign. Now ABC is springing a reversal of their election promises on the city and attempting to ram it through city council without public consultation, and with minimal opportunity for any public discourse.
It should also be noted that any changes as to how our parks are managed must be made in consultation with the host nations – Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh and carried out in compliance with the city’s obligations under UNDRIP.
This kind of opaque, rushed decision making has become a regrettable pattern of the ABC government. In early 2023, the decision to abandon the city’s longstanding living wage policy was made in a closed-door meeting, with no public or stakeholder consultation. Then, this Fall, the decision to close the Vancouver Economic Commission was similarly made and announced with no opportunity for the public to be heard, or for those engaged in work with VEC to be given so much as a heads-up.
The current move to abolish the Park Board looks hardly better. Opposition councillors were quoted in the media indicating they were given a one-day heads up about the decision, at an in-camera meeting. The announcement came a mere week prior to the motion being introduced in council, again with no public consultation process. Only one year into their term of office, Vancouverites are left wondering what will be left by 2026, and when anyone will ask them what they think of those things that are being taken away.
We thank those Park Board Commissioners, including Tom Digby of the Green Party, and the three former-ABC Commissioners, who have chosen to live up to their election promises and oppose this sudden, rushed move by ABC.
We call on Vancouver City Council to defeat the upcoming motion calling for the abolition of the Park Board. The voters should have their say, through a ballot question in 2026. Or, at minimum, if ABC wishes to pursue the abolition of the Park Board, they should be transparent with the voters about this intent and run on that platform in the next election. Such a change, whether warranted or not, should not be made without a mandate from voters.
URGENT CALL TO ACTION
Sign up to speak at the Wednesday, December 13th City Council Finance Committee meeting where Council will debate a motion from Mayor Sim, asking the province for a charter change to abolish the park board.
Click here to register to speak. The agenda item pertains to Vancouver Charter Amendment. Speakers should support OneCity and Green Party City Councillors in their efforts to oppose/amend the motion.