My Closing Remarks

I somehow completely neglected to include my closing remarks from last Thursday’s Park Board All-Candidates Meeting. Without further ado, here they are:

I’d like to share with you a vision of the future, that with your help, we can achieve.

In my vision, every Community Centre runs a community garden or two, where they teach their neighbours how to grow food in their own yards. Much of this food is given to the foodbank. People sell their own produce through a community-run grower’s co-operative to supermarkets and restaurants throughout the city, sharing proceeds with the board and neighbours alike.

Children attend daycare that is the envy of the country, run in partnership with the School Board and our local colleges and universities. Older kids can learn to skate & ride in Park-Board-run skate & bike parks. Our senior citizens sit and read books with entranced children, in a veritable babel of languages, keeping our cultural diversity strong while integrating our elders firmly into the community.

Every community centre has a space where local artists can display and perform their work. Local musicians play all-ages-shows to raise money for the community centres & parks where they practiced long hours learning their instruments.

Let’s make our parks and community centres not just facilities, but the heart and soul of our communities.

On September 20th, nominate Steven Tannock.

Thank you.

My Opening Remarks

Last night was the Vision Vancouver Park Board All-Candidates Meeting, held at the Fletcher-Challenge Theatre, SFU Downtown. I believe it went well. For posterity, here is the written version of my opening remarks (not a transcript, as this was written beforehand, and I’m certain I didn’t relate this verbatim). My thanks to everyone who attended.

Good Evening Ladies & Gentlemen. My name is Steven Tannock.

I am a business owner and web developer. This may not seem like the most relevant experience for being a Park Board Commissioner, I know, but bear with me a moment here. Fundamentally, Web development is about communication, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I wish to talk to you about this evening.

How many of you here have attended a Park Board consultation meeting?

How many of you here WOULD have attended a consultation meeting, if you had heard about it?

Or still, how many of you here attended a consultation meeting, only to never receive any follow up communication, or any indication that you’d been heard at all?

The Park Board Consultation process is broken. The public has lost faith in the process, and by extension, the board itself. As I sat in on park board meetings this past year, this became starkly apparent as I listened to speakers, regardless of their stance on the issue:

“I didn’t hear about the meeting”
“I live in the neighborhood, where was my notice?”
“There was only one small sign – you call that notice?”
And so on.

As an exercise, try and find the status of any current park board project. Identify which councilors voted for, and which voted against the motion. Tell me the budget, hired vendors and the project timeline. It’s remarkably difficult. To learn about the English Bay Bistro, I needed to open 3 different web sites – and still the best information was found in the Vancouver Sun’s archives, not the Park Board’s own site.

As a stakeholder in every decision it makes affecting our parks & community centres, it is a conflict of interest for board and staff to also control how, when and where the consultation takes place. The Park Board needs an independent, arms-length Consultation office to oversee all three stages of community decision making: Notification, Consultation and perhaps, most importantly, Reporting. Only this will restore trust in the Park Board communication process.

On September 20th, please nominate me, Steven Tannock, so that I can fight to bring back the community in community consultation and decision-making.

Thank you.

Water Bottle ban gaining traction

I’m pleased to see that Tim Stevenson has found greater traction with the second go-round of a proposed ban of water bottles on city property. CBC is current running a poll on the topic as well, so drop on in and have your say.

For my part, I’m pleased that this issue is gaining traction, but whether or not council passes the motion, I’ll continue to press for it at the Park Board this fall.

Disposable Water Bottles in the City

I attended the Park Board meeting this past Monday out at the Trout Lake Community Centre, mostly to keep an ear to what’s going on, in my ongoing need to be more-well-informed about the issues confronting Park Board Commissioners, as well as what topics the public are thinking about. There were several topics of interest that I’ll post about later, but what really struck me was that each of the Commissioners (Spencer Herbert excepted) and all off the city staff had not 1, but 2 Dasani water bottles in front of them. There was a little bottle, and then the “normal”-sized disposable bottles – 500ml, I think?

It strikes me, on several counts, that having these bottles is inexcusable:

  1. Disposable water bottles are incredibly wasteful. At virtually every step of their lifecycle too, from the production of the plastic, to the shipping, to their use, to their disposal, small-sized water bottles are inefficient. If various school boards are considering banning the sale of water bottles (via Stepan Vdovine), shouldn’t the Park Board be lock-step with them on this?
  2. Two water bottles? Were both really necessary? When I left, I do believe that everyone was still on their first bottle. Hopefully, they keep and re-use any unopened ones, but what about bottles that are opened but barely touched? Those can’t be re-used later, for hygienic reasons. I’ll assume they’re being recycled and not thrown out, but still…
  3. The message it sends. Leah told me that when she worked for the GVRD they had a strict policy to not have or use private-water services in the office. If the GVRD won’t drink the city’s water, how they can expect everyone else to do so? I feel the Park Board and city staff have the same responsibility to use and promote the quality of Vancouver’s own water.

It seems, potentially, a small issue, but would it be that hard to pass a motion for the Park Board Commissioners, at the very least, to not use bottled water at meetings? If they can get set-up to be fully wired for sound at a community-outreach meeting, I’m sure someone can bring some pitchers of water as well. The next step is then to examine the use of water bottles in all city properties, and ideally, remove them from there as well. If the parks board has a deal with Coke, that may be problematic (much as the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board is looking into), but surely, surely this can be done.

Should I be elected, I will work to eliminate disposable water bottles from the Parks board office & properties across Vancouver. In the interim, I’ll look into the City’s current stance on the use & sale of disposable water bottles on city property, to see what’s happened so far.

UPDATE: Councilor Tim Stephenson requested a memorandum about bottled water in the city back in October 2006 (jump to page 13, #5), so hopefully he’ll be able to help me out on this one.

%d bloggers like this: