April 16, 2021

The Race is On: Sim versus Coupar

In case there was any doubt, this is going to be a hard-fought (and long) civic election.  At least one set of gloves has come off.

Ken Sim (undoubtedly the mayoral candidate for the ABC party) has taken aim at John Coupar (mayoral candidate for the NPA) if not head on, at least to the source of his identity.

Here’s the latest from Sim:

Today I am announcing my first policy commitment:

If I am elected Mayor of Vancouver, I commit to abolishing the elected Park Board and rolling it back under the authority of City Council, where it belongs.

If I am successful in securing a nomination from an electors organization, I will also be looking to recruit candidates to run for Park Board alongside me, who will be committed to being the last elected Park Board Commissioners.

It’s a bold move.  There has always been a belief by many that, on one hand, the Park Board is an anachronism – redundant and (to City Hall) annoying.  On the other, many believe it reflects a profound priority of this city and its culture: a deeply rooted love of nature and the importance of parks, community centres and the social supports they offer.

Historically the existence of a separate political body for parks has meant we were green before it was capitalized.  No Council, regardless of its ideological positions, can easily erode that commitment – so long, it’s argued, as an elected Park Board is there.

Pragmatically, it just hasn’t been worth the constitutional struggle to abolish it, likely requiring an amendment to the Vancouver Charter – hence provincial approval.

But it is no coincidence that Sim’s first major policy statement (effectively responding to the criticism that he hasn’t any) takes dead aim at the primary identity of John Coupar, long-time Park Commissioner, a board chair, proudest of his support for the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park, and even his opposition to bikeways in parks.

By the time you read this, Coupar will likely be responding.  And it won’t be as mild as the persona that Coupar cultivates.


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  1. I am literally begging Coupar to run on an anti bike-lane agenda. I just want the joy of seeing how that turns out for him, after his disgraceful performance regarding the bike lane in Stanley Park.

  2. Is this right that Vancouver is the only municipality in Canada that has an elected Park Board? Are there any elected Park Boards in major US cities?

    1. I don’t think so (any more). From what I have read Vancouver seems to be the only one left in North America. Everybody else just rolled the responsibility into the city.

    2. Scot, this is the ONLY municipality in Canada that has a separate park board with separate budgets and separate elections.
      All other municipalities have integrated parks into city government for economies of scale, to stop duplication of services and equipment, to provide a comprehensive approach to all city amenities and services. The only US city I am aware of that has a separate independent parks board is Minneapolis. There was an outside consulting report done years ago by the City that recommended abolition of the Parks Board, bringing those interests and services within the city policies and programs for economic, response and service reasons. Certainly several of the decisions made by the Park Board conflict with the City’s.

      I wonder if people realize how antiquated the Park Board entity is as an expensive, early 20th century construct.

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