Vancouver Park Board meeting March 1, 2010

Pretty straight forward Park Board meeting, Chair’s report showing all the photo ops from the Winter Games.

Firefighters were there and presented a huge cheque ( 3’x 4′ worth over $180 k) which represents the money raised from the Bright Lights Train in Stanley Park that goes to the Burnt Unit Fund.

A report on Fraserview Park upgrade concept plan. A few question from the Commissioners on the consultation process. Concept plan had good support in the community. Passed unanimously.

Plans to upgrade the Seawall around English Bay to take advantage of Federal infrastructure money.

Motion from Commissioner Woodcock directing staff to seek options to find funding to upgrade the heating system of the Bloedel conservatory. One of the issues with the Bloedel is the heating cost, if this could be reduced it would be more affordable to the organization that takes on the facility. The was some hand wringing and grandstanding about what “signals” the approval of the motion would send to other levels of government and the public, but the motion passes unanimously.

Another motion from Commissioner Barnes about establishing another committee to advise the Board on marketing and promotion. More meeting, more talk, more attempts to try increase revenue as 40% Park Board budget revenue is from concessions and parking. Any new increased revenue could be use to off set increases to fees.

Last up was an In-Camera meeting and I got the boot from the meeting. The City Manager was not there, so I think anyone was going to be hired.

more photos from the meeting

Red Tents goes to Canada House

More images from Red Tent Event

Let’s take the Red Tent Campaign National

red tents on Seine River in 2006

On Saturday February 27, Pivot Legal’s Red Tent Campaign is asking folks to join them at Keefer Place at noon. The Red Tent Campaign kicks off the launch of the national phase to pressure the Canadian Government to develop a funded national housing plan.

Here is a portion of their announcement:

“The Games are almost over, but the Red Tent ( campaign is just getting started. Come out and join our Olympic Wrap-up party as we launch our campaign onto the national stage with a clear message for the Harper Government- Canada needs to end homelessness now!

Come down to the Canada Pavillion this Saturday and help us spread the message that housing is a right. We’ve got 150 red banners that call for a funded national housing strategy and we’re ready to wrap up the entire Pavillion.”

red tent campaign

While some may feel that the Olympics is not the time to have protest about housing, I think it is appropriate given the long history of the advocacy undertaken by PIVOT and other community organizations committed to improving housing. The issue of homelessness and affordable housing was identified as problem early in Larry Campbell’s term in office in 2002. The City of Vancouver (CoV) passed its Homeless Action Plan (HAP) in 2005. It is not as if any level of government does not know what needs to be done. It has always been about political will. If the same political will has applied to the Olympics had gone into addressing the issue of homelessness and affordable housing then the issue would have been resolved by now. This is not saying anything negative about the Olympics. Continue reading Let’s take the Red Tent Campaign National →

“Listen”, the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project

more images of “Listen”

Stanley Park is a forest of tranquility on the edge of Vancouver. With the West End being the most densely populated Vancouver neighbourhood, many here consider the park as their own backyard that we willingly share with the rest of the world.

When my kids were younger I jogged many a kilometer in park pushing them in our double jogging stroller. From that time I became familiarized with the trails and part of the closeness I have with my kids is connected to the park and the time we spent there together. My girls learned how to walk in English Bay after there little naps during the jogs.

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to go for a little walk in the park with my oldest daughter. We had been apartment-bound for the entire morning both glued to our respective digital devise of choice: me – my MacBook and she- the Nitendo DS. I thought it my responsibility as a parent to get outside for some exercise. My daughter had been endowed with a new pair of binoculars as a holiday present and we decided to go to the park to look at birds.

On first entering the park, evidence of the 2006 windstorm is still visible. I knew that there were a lot of trees blown down up at Prospect Point, but I had not realized how many came down on the edge of the park by Lost Lagoon. It was an awe-inspiring experience to walk by these upturned mammoth trees.

While my daughter and I had a nice time bonding and reconnecting to park, we discovered a piece of environmental art on the trail Lovers, which is part of one of my favourite running routes. The trial starts high and runs into a little meadow. On the lower part of the trail a huge cedar fell in the middle of it during the 2006 windstorm. The tree must have been at least 500 hundred years old with a trunk diameter of over four feet high. To provide trail access, a section had been cut out of the trunk. Off to one side of the fallen tree is a black orb, a sphere made of burnt wood. It is a work of environmental art call “Listen” and is part of Stanley Park Environmental Art Project. Continue reading “Listen”, the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project →

Baby forced into political action by mean policies of PM

I was not able to attend the rally for a national housing plan last Saturday, but by all accounts it was a success. It was well attend and so peaceful and well run that there is not even one media account about it. Here is a report of the rally on theWERAwebsite.

Before the rally there seem to be some anxiety from security types that bands of marauding central Canadian youth, clad in masked faces and black hoodies would infiltrate the rally and subvert that well intention advocacy of the organizers and start to break windows of all the good merchants and burgers of Robston Street. As it turned out this did not happen.

As far as getting the message to Stephen Harper and other MPs about the need for a national housing plan and for building support for Bill C-304 I am not sure about how successful the rally was. It is hard to gauge these things.

But if I were the PM I would start to be worried because of the next comrade that is doing the 2010 Homelessness Hunger Strike. Check this out, I got this media advisory yesterday from Am Johal. When a babies are force to into political action to bring attention to crass and heartless policies of the Conservative Government, this is a public relations nightmare for Mr. Harper. Imagine the headlines: “Mean PM makes 8 month old baby go on liquid diet fast”.

Here is the median Advisory from Am:


For immediate release

February 20th, 2010

8 Week Old Baby To Become Youngest Hunger Striker for Homelessness

Vancouver – Leyf Bonzom, an 8 week old baby, is set to become the youngest participant in Week 61 of the 2010 Homelessness Hunger Strike Relay tomorrow (Sunday, February 21st) at noon at W2 (112 West Hastings).

Performance artist Emilio Rojas and Jamie Griffiths are finishing Week 60 of their hunger strike tomorrow at noon.

“Our oldest participant was Sister Elizabeth Kelliher at the age of 85 last year. We now welcome our youngest participant, Leyf. When we asked for his informed consent regarding his participation, he said ‘goo goo gah gah,’ which we accepted as his expression of support,” said Am Johal, 2010 Homelessness Hunger Strike organizer.

Leyf has committed to staying on a liquid diet for the week in order to pressure the federal government to enact a national housing program.

“Yeah, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of concerns expressed out there at organizations like the BC Civil Liberties Association, or others accusing us of exploiting children to advance our political causes, but you know, there’s a lot of bleeding hearts out there – let them bleed,” said Johal.

Media – 778-895-5640

Rally for a national housing program Saturday February 20, 2010 Noon Vancouver Art Gallery

A comprehensive national housing plan that would provide for a wide spectrum of housing needs is desperately needed for the City of Vancouver. In Vancouver there is a need for the renewal of purpose built rental housing stock to be built, social housing for lower income folks, affordable housing, co-op for families and a host of housing needs for seniors from accessible housing, some support to fully supported. Vancouver also need to solve the problem of homelessness and will have built a wide array of housing types to support folks with mental illness and substance use issues.

Right now there is a private member’s bill in the Parliament of Canada, Bill C-304,
“An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians”,

that has past 2nd reading in the house and is going for 3rd and final reading in March, which would mandate that the Canadian government create a national housing plan. Please contact your Member of Parliament and ask them to support this bill.

On Saturday February 20, at Noon at the Vancouver Art Gallery there is going to be “ A Rally for a National Housing Program” to publicly demonstrate that housing issues are important to Canadians. Please consider attending this rally to show your support for the development of a national housing plan that houses everyone in this country from the folks sleeping on the street, the seniors in our community, families with kids to single people and young couples saving to own their first home.

Rally for a National Housing Program

No more empty talk, no more empty lots

Councilor Kerry Jang checking out one of Pivot's red tents

On Monday February 15, 2010 the Power of Women organized a rally in support of Pivot Legal’s Red Tent Campaign. Pivot Legal Society has purchased 500 red tents to shelter Vancouver’s homeless citizens in response to the inadequacy of the city’s emergency shelter program. The tents display quotes from the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Mahatma Ghandi that affirm the enduring right to dignity that so many of our citizens are denied. More than providing shelter, that an additional 500 tents provided by civil society are needed to help Vancouver’s homeless only underscores our dire need of a national housing plan from the federal government that houses everyone.

The issue of homelessness and affordable housing needs a comprehensive national strategy. Libby Davies’ private members bill, C-304, “An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians” represents an excellent opportunity to develop a national plan to house all Canadians. Part of the intention of the rally was to ask citizens to request their Member of Parliament support the bill when it comes back to the House for final reading.

After the rally a march was organized to a tent village that was set up by Streams of Justice, which reinforces the recent Adam’s decision that made it legal to sleep on city property during a housing crisis.

more photos of the rally

Intercultural community garden project

Gung hay fat choy

Gung Hay Fat Choy