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Vancouver needs to provide Park Board dissolution plan, premier says

Vancouver is one step closer to dissolving the Park Board after City Council passed a motion last night asking the province to amend the Vancouver Charter. As Kier Junos reports, those against the move say the mayor's motion lacks substance.

The hotly contested Vancouver Park Board dissolution debate is soon heading into the hands of the B.C. government.

Vancouver city council voted Wednesday night to move forward with its plan to dissolve the elected Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and take over all its responsibilities.

However, the scrapping of the board can’t happen until legislative changes to the Vancouver Charter happen — something the province would be required to approve.

Speaking at an unrelated news conference Thursday, B.C. Premier David Eby said that Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim and council need to outline how this massive shift to governing parks in that city is going to proceed.

“We understand and expect the city will be putting together a transition plan so that we can understand how they anticipate dealing with Indigenous engagement, the future of staff, and the future of the facilities,” Eby said.

“This is an important transition. There are significant First Nations engagement requirements any time you’re talking about governance transitions like this in our province,” he added, referencing B.C.’s UNDRIP-related legislation and the city’s own adoption of the U.N. declaration.

Regarding concerns that this issue could end up in a quagmire similar to the Surrey policing transition, which also required provincial and legislative action, Eby is assuring that those circumstances won’t be repeated in Vancouver.

He says there is a big difference “between matters of public safety” and who responds to 911 calls, and a municipal park board.

The motion to move forward with the dissolution of the Park Board was approved along party lines in Vancouver’s council chambers, with all ABC Vancouver councillors voting in favour of the move. Green and OneCity councillors Adrianne Carr, Pete Fry, and Christine Boyle were opposed.

A slew of former commissioners and the provincial Green Party leader have called on the province to “protect democracy” and the elected board.

In a statement later Thursday, Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang confirmed the province “will begin work with the city to move forward on this significant change to governance in Vancouver.”

She highlighted some of the the same points Eby had made earlier, mainly around some outstanding items.

“There are a number of items that need to be addressed, including land ownership and the future of the workers at the park board, and we need to make sure First Nations are consulted. We are asking the City of Vancouver to provide the Province with a transition plan to address these considerations so we can move forward together,” Kang said.

With files from Charlie Carey

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