Parks Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon of the Vancouver Green Party has introduced a Motion at Parks Board that advocates the “co-management of parklands” in Vancouver with the local First Nations. That sounds like a fine idea but, as with some other of this Board’s choices this term, it is being handled about as ineptly as one could imagine.
For all its reconciliation positivity, this Motion is illegal, impractical, and grossly undemocratic.
The Vancouver Parks Board operates under the Vancouver Charter which states, without ambiguity:
“The Board shall have exclusive possession of, and exclusive JURISDICTION and CONTROL of all areas designated as permanent public parks of the City in a manner prescribed in subsection (5) of this section, and such areas shall remain as permanent public parks, and possession, jurisdiction and control of such areas shall be retained by the Board.”
As local filmmaker and activist Elvira Lount points out in a detailed response to the Motion, the definition of “exclusive” is “not shared”. Therefore this Motion is illegal as it seeks to share management and control. The Motion should be called out of order and withdrawn for this if for no other reason.
But there are all sorts of other reasons. Impracticality, for example. Quoting Ms. Lount once again:
“Adding a whole new layer of bureaucracy to the management of our 240+ parks is impractical, unnecessary and unrealistic. We already have a management system in place with an elected Board and the means for the public to have input through both electing Commissioners and providing feedback on various proposals …
“Adding a new layer of co-management bureaucracy is an expensive proposition … [with] all the staff and advisors working with that Co-manager in order to provide informed input. The additional cost would likely be in the many millions. How would this be funded?
And that brings up the issue of the undemocratic nature of the Motion. Again, Elvira Lount gets to the point:
“Adding a co-manager for all our parks would completely circumvent the democratic process, not only by ignoring the Vancouver Charter, but by favouring one group of voters over another, whomever they might be. It is no longer a consultative and advisory role, but a much more hands on, behind the scenes management role, and quite possibly not transparent and not subject to full scrutiny by the public … Who makes the final decisions when it comes to matters of management – the management staff answerable to an elected Park Board, or the co-manager answerable to no one?”
We are less than a year away from civic elections and a change of this importance needs to be decided by the entire electorate after a full debate, not just by the temporary majority on the Parks Board today.
I understand that this will now come up to the Board for consideration on 24th January, so there is plenty of time for you to get your comments about this proposal into the Parks Board.