October 10, 2022
VANCOUVER - TEAM For A Livable Vancouver would create a Seniors and People with Disabilities Advocate for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to deal directly with issues specific to those important groups, says TEAM Park Board Commissioner Tricia Barker.
“Under the system we have now, people have to advocate for themselves after a decision has been made, and even worse, after the decision has been implemented,” said Barker. “Yes, we have ways to conduct outreach, but this means that each and every time these two groups have to ask to be seen and heard.”
“The horrible impact of the lane closures in Stanley Park on seniors and people with disabilities could have been avoided if there had been a Seniors and Persons With Disabilities [PWD] Advocate in place to ensure new policies and directions did not compromise and hurt park goers,” says Barker, who is running for re-election October 15.
Barker notes that one example is the on-going human rights case against the Park Board and the City over Stanley Park traffic changes.
“This case has taken over two years and is still being argued before the Human Rights Tribunal. If an Advocate were in place this would not have happened,” Barker says. “An advocate would look at all policies and programs through the lens of how it would impact seniors and PWD. That cannot be done by politicians and staff who are not part of the seniors and PWD communities.”
“The accessibility rights of persons with disabilities are diverse and best understood through those with applicable lived experience,” Barker says. “The issues are wide and varied, from making sure a person without access to a mobile phone or computer can still use our facilities, to prioritizing accessible washroom facilities, to ensuring easy access to all our parks, beaches and recreational facilities which would include accessible parking spots as well as ample general parking for those without a Social Planning and Research Council of BC [SPARC] decal,” she added.
Barker says she has advocated for seniors and people with disabilities for four years at the Park Board.
“But these people should not have to hope that an elected official will be there to fight for them. It is time to put in an official Advocate who can supplement and enhance the effectiveness of the City’s Advisory Committees for Seniors and PWD whose work is often ignored,” Barker said.
“We want to think that Vancouver is a place of kindness and compassion. We want to believe that we will always look after those that need our help with someone that understands their needs,” she concluded.
TEAM For A Livable Vancouver Park Board candidates are: Patrick Audley, Tricia Barker, James Buckshon, Kumi Kimura, Kathleen Larsen and Michelle Mollineaux.