I see parks and public spaces as central to tackling climate change and readying our community for its impacts. They are important sites for recognizing and upholding Indigenous laws and jurisdiction, and for building inclusive communities. With that, I am committed to lasting impact supported by three main advocacies:
Park planning is key to the City’s plan to reduce carbon emissions.
Decarbonizing our city in an equitable way is one of the most important and all-encompassing challenges Vancouver faces over the next 10 years. A key component of the City’s plan to cut carbon pollution in half (below 2010 levels) is to reduce the city’s vehicle emissions, which account for ~ 39% of Vancouver’s carbon emissions. To do this, the City plans to greatly
increase the number of trips that Vancouverites make by active transportation and transit.
Park Board has an integral role to play in working with the City to meet these goals, including by designing routes that are safe, well-lit, comfortable, convenient for pedestrians and cyclists, and provide connections for all our communities. Park Board can also work to ensure access to recreation facilities throughout the city - not just close to the downtown core.
These goals matter to me - as both a climate justice advocate and a cyclist commuter who interacts with these routes on a daily basis. If elected to Park Board, I will advocate for active, equitable and practical transportation networks throughout our city.
INDIGENOUS RIGHTS RECOGNITION
Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations have the right to determine priorities and strategies for their territories.
Since it was formed in 1888, the Park Board has played an active role in the dispossession of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples from their lands, and the trampling of Indigenous jurisdiction, laws and protocols.
The Park Board continues to make land use and management decisions over 11% of Vancouver’s landmass, on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. If the Park Board is to take its commitment* to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) seriously it must ensure these Nations are recognized as decision-makers with respect to land use and management in their territories.
On January 24th 2022, the Park Board passed a motion to "explore opportunities” with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations for co-management of parklands within the Nations’ respective territories. There are many examples of park co-management arrangements between the federal and provincial governments and Indigenous Nations. However, these arrangements vary greatly in the amount of decision making power an Indigenous Nation actually has over park lands - ranging from the sharing of information and joint research projects to consensus based decision making (i.e. the Nation and federal or provincial representatives must all agree on the course of action).
Indigenous Rights Recognition contd...
Co-management holds the potential to be a critical step in recognizing Indigenous authority and laws over parklands. However, this model must be designed and structured through the leadership of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, meaningfully recognise the Nations’ right to determine priorities and strategies for their territories, and must be supported be adequate funding.
As a lawyer working with Indigenous Nations, I have experience developing co-management arrangements (from fisheries to environmental assessments). I hope to bring this experience to Park Board and support the work and initiatives led by the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations to decolonize parks and recognize their inherent rights. This work is integral to a more resilient and equitable city for all.
*In 2016 the Park Board committed to adopt UNDRIP “as a reference framework for Park Board’s Reconciliation initiatives.”
Street trees and green spaces can help protect us from the heat. All of our neighbours deserve equal access to shade.
Last summer’s heat dome demonstrated that extreme weather doesn’t affect us all equally. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, factors that put people at greater risk of dying during the heat dome were people who were older than 50, socially isolated and living in neighbourhoods with lower income levels and less green space.
The map to the left (from the Park Board/City Urban Forest Strategy) shows the disparity in urban forest cover and protection from heat waves across the city - the parts of Vancouver most impacted by heat are those with the least green cover. The 2018 Urban Forest Strategy set a target to double street tree density by 2030 in priority neighbourhoods, including the Downtown Eastside, False Creek Flats and Marpole.
As a Park Board commissioner I would prioritize planting street trees in areas of least cover and highest use within these priority neighbourhoods. I also believe our targets can be more ambitious than 2030 - all of our neighbours deserve equal access to shade. If we’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that we can’t wait a decade to prepare for extreme weather.
Our Parks and facilities must be built for the extreme weather to come.
In the last year, we have experienced king tides, atmospheric rivers and devastating fires through the province. In the last month we saw significant destruction to the seawall, an iconic part of Vancouver.
We need to invest in long-term climate resilience. We can’t have a band aid solution to rebuilding and protecting essential pieces of park infrastructure like the seawall.
I believe Park Board commissioners must take a long-term view of what will maintain Vancouver’s parks and recreation infrastructure for future generations. The maintenance and replacement of infrastructure must be approached with the goals of climate change and efficiency in mind. On Park Board, I will advocate for infrastructure resiliency in all Park Board strategic plans and repair decisions. I believe a functional parks system is built on a stable and enduring foundation.