September 20, 2022

Policy and Politics in Park Board Platforms

Two parties at different points on the ideological spectrum – ABC (centre right) and Greens (centre left) – put out releases on their Park Board platforms today.  They’re revealing for what they say (and what they don’t), and the presumed strategies behind them.

The release from the Greens on their full Park Board platform lists the actions they would take if elected:

  • Expand the current pilot project for alcohol consumption in parks to include all eligible parklands and beaches.
  • Work to implement the People, Parks and Dogs Strategy, including advancing new dog parks in Mount Pleasant and Kitsilano, while creating multi-access drinking fountains at dog parks.
  • Prioritize completing and implementing the Sports Fields Strategy and the development of new fields including accelerating the construction of a synthetic turf field at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary.
  • Actively collaborate with elected members of the federal and provincial government to seek funding to rebuild the Jericho Pier into a modern waterfront hub for community building, outdoor recreation, and harbour safety.
  • Initiate a pilot project for an electric trolly loop service within Stanley Park.
  • Finalize planning for the new outdoor swimming pool in Oak Park (Marpole).
  • Renew and update the Vancouver Park Board’s biodiversity strategy and goals in view of the new Vancouver Plan, blue-green infrastructure plans, and shoreline resilience strategy.

Booze, bow wows and buildings – and, oh yeah, biodiversity, in a casual mention at the end.    Otherwise, this could easily be the platform of a more conservative party like, presumably, ABC, or even the NPA (except for the trolly loop part).

ABC, on the other hand, comes out of left field (metaphorically, not literally) with its latest Park Board initiative.  If you didn’t see the logo, you’d presume the source was from the Progressive Left:

… an ABC majority on Park Board would initiate a groundbreaking voluntary ‘safe sport officer’ program to help promote safety and inclusivity within sports organizations that use Park Board fields and facilities. ….“In light of recent international scandals, such as the ones affecting Hockey Canada and USA Gymnastics, we feel that Park Board has a responsibility to do what we can to promote a tolerant and welcoming culture,” continued Bastyovanszky. “To address deep-rooted challenges of misogyny, homophobia, and sexual violence, we need to ensure that all those who use Park Board facilities feel safe and welcomed.”

Safe sport officers will be able to provide independent oversight of league or club operations in addition to providing resources such as equity, diversity, and inclusivity training or assistance in the development of inclusivity-positive policies within organizations.

It’s hard to find a wokish reference overlooked.  While on the Green side, there’s not even a fleeting reference to reconciliation, Indigenous lenses or, especially, co-management by First Nations. (You’d have to dig through the full platform.)

Some strange bedfellows seem to have exchanged pajamas.

Their strategies aren’t too hard to guess: As election day approaches, you reach out to the voters you need, not the ones you’ve got.  And avoid the issues on which you might be vulnerable by adopting the policy (or at least the right words) of your adjacent opposition.

I’m guessing the Greens in fact do not want to seem too much in the decolonization camp, especially having implied they would turn over decision-making in part to local (and unelected) First Nations (the implications of which I explore here.) Paving roads through parks to service real-estate projects isn’t likely an issue they’d prefer to defend.

ABC, on the other hand, wants to pick up some of those progressive voters in search of a possible majority.  (It was a strategy used successfully by Gordon Campbell back in 1986 when he merged the traditional NPA machine with the centre-left policies of what was left of the TEAM of that era.)

Still, the incongruity is a bit jaw-dropping.

Look to ABC for safe spaces.  Look to Greens for synthetic turf fields.


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  1. An interesting analysis – thank you! re the Greens – an electric trolley loop through Stanley Park is an excellent idea!! And another outdoor pool is great – but what about Mount Pleasant outdoor pool which is so badly needed in the centre of the city? But more dog parks (with their environmental impact) is the last thing we need!!

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