Vancouver must craft ‘transition plan’ for park board elimination, province says

Click to play video: 'Vancouver one step closer to abolishing Park Board'
Vancouver one step closer to abolishing Park Board
WATCH: The City of Vancouver is one step closer to getting rid of the Park Board. U.B.C. political science professor Stewart Prest talks about what this will mean for the city and its' parks – Dec 14, 2023

The B.C. government has indicated it is on board, in principle, with Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim’s plan to disband its elected park board.

Vancouver city council approved a motion Wednesday calling on the province to amend the Vancouver Charter to fold park management into city administration and do away with the elected board.

The motion passed along party lines, with Sim’s ABC majority in support and council’s two green councillors and single OneCity councillor opposed.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Park Board abolishment arguments go before city council'
Vancouver Park Board abolishment arguments go before city council

On Thursday, provincial Municipal Affairs Minister Anne Kang issued a statement saying the province would begin working with the city on the transition, though with caveats.

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“We respect the decision of Vancouver city council on the future of the park board. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs will begin work with the city to move forward on this significant change to governance in Vancouver,” Kang wrote.

“There are a number of items that need to be addressed, including land ownership and the future of the workers at the park board, and we need to make sure First Nations are consulted.”

Kang said the city will now need to provide the province with a transition plan to address those concerns before the plan can move forward.

Council passed the park board motion at the end of a marathon public meeting that saw scores of opponents, including numerous former park commissioners of opposing political stripes, voice their concerns.

Click to play video: 'First Park Board meeting since mayor vowed to scrap it'
First Park Board meeting since mayor vowed to scrap it

Critics of the proposal point to Sim’s pledge before the 2022 election not to eliminate the board and to a lack of public consultation.

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Some critics also warned that dozens of city parks do not have a “permanent” designation, meaning they would not be protected from sale or development under the terms of the ABC motion.

Sim argues that eliminating the board is necessary to improve efficiency and accountability, arguing the system of park management is “broken.”

In a media release Thursday, the mayor’s office said the ABC motion also directs staff to “accelerate” work to transition parks and greenspaces in the city to permanent status.

On Monday, the board narrowly passed a motion of its own calling on the province not to eliminate it.

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