Host First Nations support the Vancouver Park Board dissolution

The xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations have told the B.C. government and the City of Vancouver that they support the dissolution of the Vancouver Park Board.

In a letter obtained by CityNews, the three Host Nations say they will immediately begin working on the transition process.

“We have asked the MST Technical Team to meet with your officials to immediately begin work on the proposed amendment, together with any consequential and related amendments that may be required to the Community Charter, Local Government Act, and other provincial legislation,” the Nations wrote.

The approval of the Nations is required to amend the Vancouver Charter — which is a necessary step in the city’s plans to dismantle the elected Park Board.

The Nations are seeking a written commitment from the province and the city to begin a joint initiative to modernize the Vancouver Charter to make it consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

“We envision that work could start after we complete our work to amend the Vancouver Charter [to abolish the park board],” the letter stated.

Sources close to the talks tell CityNews the Nations are proposing a variety of amendments, including how they are referred to in the charter, and modernizing the rules around social housing projects on First Nation lands within the City of Vancouver.

Speaking to CityNews Monday morning, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim shared that he’s “over the moon.”

“We are incredibly grateful that MST are supporting the vision that we have for a better Vancouver,” he said. “We appreciate their partnership and the trust.”

Sim said the amendments and dissolution will take some time, but the city has been clear that each Nation will have its support in “getting to the answer on their terms and on their timetable.”

“We’re super happy that we have a great working relationship with all three Nations, and we’re super happy that they’re supporting our vision.

“Vancouver’s the city of reconciliation, and Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations have a huge stake in everything we do, and going forward we will converse with them all the time, and they have a seat at the table,” he shared. “This is just another step in the process of getting to that city of true reconciliation.”

Sim said the next steps are in the hands of the province. However, he, and the city, understand that the provincial government has “a lot on their plate” currently, including dealing with housing and health-care, so “we hope that it happens sooner rather than later,” but there is no official set timeline for when the city would see the board dissolved.

“Folding in the elected Park Board under one roof will have a huge positive effect on how we build our parks going forward, and we’re super excited about making this move and getting on with the business of making our parks even more vibrant, and our recreation more vibrant than they ever have been in the City of Vancouver,” Sim shared.

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) was the last Nation to agree to the project, with the other two Nations publically agreeing to the board’s dissolution by early February.

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 four of the seven current Park Board commissioners. 

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