NPA takes control of park board from Vision Vancouver

The Vancouver Park Board | Photo: Dan Toulgoet

What has to be considered bad news for Vision Vancouver looks like a win for the Vancouver Aquarium.

The NPA, which took four of seven seats on the park board, promised earlier to repeal a July decision that would see a ban on breeding whales and dolphins at the popular attraction.

Vision held only one seat on park board, down from four. Meanwhile the NPA increased its seats from two to four and for the first time in the board's history, the Green Party now has two commissioners on the board.

Preliminary results showed Vision newcomer Catherine Evans (64,707) sweeping the polls from the start on election night, maintaining first place over NPA incumbent John Coupar (62,970) followed by the NPA's Casey Crawford (59,882), Sarah Kirby-Yung (56,828) and Erin Shum (56,762). Former Green Party park board commissioner Stuart Mackinnon (56,406) placed sixth followed by the Green's Michael Wiebe (55,607).

Some park board watch dogs suggest the loss at park board by Vision Vancouver was driven largely by the board's lengthy and ongoing dispute with the city's community centre associations.

In 2012, the park board presented a controversial new management agreement to the city’s community centre associations, which would centralize core programs and introduced the universal OneCard. The most contentious of the recommendations was one that could see the board pool revenues from room rentals and programs — money traditionally retained by the associations — to be distributed amongst “have not” centres. In response to conflicts regarding the interim agreement, Hastings, Riley Park-Hillcrest, Killarney, Kensington, Kerrisdale and Sunset community centre associations dropped out of the negotiations and last August began the first of three legal proceedings against the park board in B.C. Supreme Court. Two months ago, the B.C. Supreme Court halted the attempted eviction of the self-described “Group of Six” by the park board. Recently Renfrew Community Centre Association also left the negotiating table.

In an interview early on election night, the Green Party's Mackinnon said due to the ongoing dispute between the park board and community centre associations over the joint-operating agreements, more residents than ever were paying attention to a civic election. Mackinnon suspects that could be one of the reasons for the huge turnout for advanced voting and even on election day.

"These are their communities," said Mackinnon. "While a lot of them don't quite understand all of the nuances of the joint operating agreements, they do recognize there's been a grab for money and power. That they understand."

There were 30 candidates seeking a seat on the park board including independents Roland Clarke, James Buckshon, Jenny De Castris, Eleanor Hadley, Matt Kadioglu and Earl Sunshine. Running for Vision Vancouver was Evans, Brent Granby, Naveen Girn, Trevor Loke, Sammie Jo Rumbaua and Coree Tull. NPA candidates included incumbent Coupar, Crawford, Jay Jagpal, Kirby-Yung, Stephane Mouttet and Shum. Running for COPE was Ezra Bloom, Urooba Jamal, Imitiaz Popat, former park board commissioner Anita Romaniuk and Cease Wyss. Vancouver 1st candidates included Brent Hayden, Yogi Johl, Massimo Rossetti, Doug Starink and Richard Wong. Meanwhile Jamie Lee Hamilton ran for IDEA.

Former Vision Vancouver commissioners Aaron Jasper, Sarah Blyth and Constance Barnes did not seek re-election for park board, while Niki Sharma ran unsuccessfully for council under Vision.

Vancouver Courier