2 of 3 local First Nations now support plan to abolish Park Board

Vancouver City Council heard an update on the potential transition plan if the Park Board is eliminated. As Monika Gul reports, this comes as another First Nation in B.C. is supporting the move.

Vancouver city council heard an update on the potential transition plan if Vancouver’s Park Board is eliminated, as another First Nation announced its support for the plan.

Two of three local First Nations have now vocalized their support for Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim’s plan to abolish the park board.

Chief Jen Thomas of səl̓ilw̓ətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nation says they are now formally supporting the plan.

“We just wanna be involved in the amendment with the charter, with the province and the city, we want to be able to have that government-to-government relationship on this,” she said.

Thomas says so far, that’s been happening.

Indigenous engagement is needed for the B.C. government to support the dismantling of the park board, which is something the city wants the province to do within the next three months.

In an update to council on Wednesday, city staff said they’re hoping the province will amend the Vancouver Charter during the spring legislative session, which ends May 16.

But a political scientist from the University of British Columbia says it’s an aspirational timeline.

Stewart Prest says the change is one that B.C. will want to ensure there’s broad support for before making a decision.

“And if there’s significant opposition, which there appears to be on this issue, specifically, in the park board itself, that care is taken to address whatever issues are outstanding before the province goes to finalize this transition,” Prest said.

Thomas also didn’t seem sure about the timeline when asked by CityNews.

“We would have to be pretty dedicated right from the start, the provincial government, the three nations, and the city, in order to get this done,” she said.

Premier David Eby has also previously suggested the province is in no hurry to amend the charter.

“While the park board is front of mind for a handful of people in Vancouver, this is not necessarily the number one priority for the provincial government of British Columbia,” Eby said.

Wednesday’s update from city staff went through key elements of the transition plan, including work streams and timelines, and continuing discussions with the province and First Nations.

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nation has yet to confirm whether it supports the Park Board abolition.

The plan to abolish the Park Board was announced in early December by Mayor Ken Sim, who said the board was inefficient and costly.

The move has been protested by some residents, including three of the seven current Park Board commissioners. On Monday, the commissioners passed a motion to get independent legal counsel, which could lead to a legal challenge.

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