VANCOUVER—After listening to the passionate opposition of over 20 speakers, including CUPE 15 president Paul Faoro, at last night’s Vancouver Park Board meeting the Commissioners have voted to nix plans for a public-private observation tower in Queen Elizabeth Park. Non-Partisan Association member and Park Board Commissioner Marty Zlotnik did not participate in the discussion and vote due to a conflict of interest.
The NPA-dominated board has directed staff to be “more entrepreneurial in their thinking and development of additional revenue streams.” The strategic plan includes direction to “pursue alternative sources of funding,” but while carrying through with the public review process the board encountered strong public opposition to the P3 tower.
Surveys showed approximately 70 per cent of those asked were opposed and over 35 per cent opposed because they did not want their public park to be used for “private profit.”
“It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure our public spaces are preserved and protected,” says Faoro. “That includes protecting them from private interests that want to turn a profit from a natural park and view that belongs to the people.”
The $10 million proposal included charging visitors to the tower $10 to see an unobstructed view of the North Shore mountains, the harbour, downtown, Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Fraser Delta and Mount Baker. Some opponents argued that the view should be restored by selective pruning and that the view fee was restrictive to residents. The board moved an amendment to direct staff to “report back by spring 2008 on various tree management options with the goal of restoring views from Queen E. Park Plaza.”
Faoro also argued that the P3 nature of the project meant the community would lose control of a public asset and that transparency and accountability would be compromised. This would only result in further commercialization of the park as the private investor sought ways to expand the commercial operation.
Other organizations and groups that had their views heard in opposition to the Queen Elizabeth Observation Tower included Vancouver Natural History Society, Dunbar Residents Association and the Wildness Committee.
Contact: Paul Faoro, CUPE 15 president, c: 604-202-1829
Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications representative, c: 778-229-0258