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TEAM SUPPORTS PARK BOARD’S PLAN FOR LEGAL CHALLENGE AGAINST ABOLITION

VANCOUVER, Feb. 5, 2024 -- As part of its strong support for an independent elected Vancouver Park Board, TEAM for a Livable Vancouver applauds a board member’s plan to push back legally against Mayor Ken Sim’s move to abolish it.


TEAM believes Park Commissioner Tom Digby’s motion seeking funding for independent legal advice on the abolition is a positive move, and should be passed.


Digby’s motion, coming before park board tonight (Feb. 5), asks for approval of $20,000 to retain a lawyer to assess the chances of over-ruling the mayor’s plan via judicial review.


The motion also seeks to reverse city council’s historic encroachment on areas of park board authority, an issue so important to TEAM that it was an “action item” in its 2022 election platform. TEAM promised to “Restore park board authority over their operations and facilities by transferring finance, operations and facilities back under park board jurisdiction from the city’s planning, real estate and facilities departments.”


Tonight’s motion is expected to pass, as Green Party Commissioner Digby and three former ABC commissioners, now independents, hold the balance of power on the board. Commissioners Brennan Bastyovanszky, Laura Christensen and Scott Jensen quit ABC when Sim reversed his election-campaign promise to improve the park board.


The ABC majority on Vancouver City Council approved Sim’s plan last December, even though it meant eliminating the jobs of their six former ABC park board colleagues, who all campaigned with no mention of risk to their elected positions.


TEAM members have opposed the abolition since the start, speaking out in force at the Dec. 13 council meeting where it was approved. They were also among the dozens of residents who spoke vehemently against Sim’s plan at a town hall meeting Feb. 1 hosted by the three non-ABC council members – Greens Pete Fry and Adriane Carr, and OneCity’s Christine Boyle.


TEAM asserts that Ken Sim is misleading the public when he blames the park board for failing to maintain assets such as the Aquatic Centre or Kitsilano Pool. In fact, the city took over responsibility for maintaining park board assets years ago, and the failure is on the city’s shoulders. Sim’s plan to assume complete control of the parks and recreation system merely ensures the neglect will continue.


He has also promised that abolishing the park board will save millions of dollars, but has never produced evidence about where the savings will come from.


TEAM’s position on the elected park board is to strengthen and support it as the nearest thing Vancouver has to neighbourhood representation.


“TEAM will support an elected park board by ensuring they have the required administrative structure and funding to properly manage the parks and recreation system,” TEAM’s website says. “This includes re-establishing the park board's independent planning, operations, and maintenance resources.”

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