The Park Board

Name:               Stuart Mackinnon        

Fear, arrogance, disdain, contempt…these are some of the words that came to my mind when I read the resolution tonight. What is it about citizen participation that you are afraid of?

The renewal of the Aquarium lease and the Aquarium’s plans to expand yet further are arguably the biggest decisions the Park Board is going to have to make in the next 10 years. Why do you think that the citizens of this city should be shut out this decision making process?

Even previous NPA dominated Park Boards believed that a referendum on this issue was necessary. As you are well aware in 1995 the Board of Parks and Recreation passed a motion saying that if the Aquarium were ever to expand you would have to have a public vote to find out if Vancouverites supported such expansion.

Yet we are here tonight to because Commissioner Zlotnik does not believe the public, the citizens of Vancouver, the very people who are the true trustees of the parks, should have a say in what happens to Stanley Park.

This motion goes to the heart of what Stanley Park is. Lord Stanley, when he dedicated this park said "To the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds and customs for all time”. He didn’t say for the generation of income, for the exploitation of nature, nor for the cruelty or incarceration of animals. This park was to be an oasis within the city. A place of natural refuge.

Commissioner Robertson says that only a few citizens vote in civic elections and so a plebiscite is not worth while, that a consultation process would be better—well Commissioner Robertson a hell of lot more people vote than come out to your consultations. Nearly 38 000 citizens shared the Green Party’s vision of the parks in last civic election. We shared our vision of Stanley Park—the NPA didn’t. At no time did the NPA say you would cancel the plebiscite, at no time did you say you would take the right of the citizens to decides the future of Stanley Park away from them.

This motion serves one purpose and one purpose only. It is to allow the aquarium to continue its expansion and increase its commercial exploitation of the park. Shame on you Commissioner Zlotnik, for bringing this motion to the floor. Shame on you for your cynicism and your contempt for the citizens of this great city.

Commissioners, defeat this motion. Let the citizens decide.
What on earth are you afraid of?


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© Coalition For No Whales In Captivity 2006