COPE: Save park green space
Wants to see a 'zero net loss' policy in city
Christina Montgomery, The Province
Published: Sunday, November 25, 2007
As Vancouver faces increasing demand to develop its parks with everything from community centres and soccer fieldhouses to beach concessions and tourist attractions, someone has to keep an eye on the green space.
So goes an argument before the park board next week as it considers a motion suggesting a "zero net loss of green space" policy be developed to guide planning.
COPE Commissioner Spencer Herbert, who tabled the motion, says he became concerned after tallying up nearly two acres of green parklands recently approved for "asphalt and building development."
The biggest loss -- 1.34 acres -- is in Stanley Park, where the Vancouver Aquarium is expanding its facilities. Smaller chunks of
China Creek Park, Trout Lake, Killarney and Hillcrest Park will also be lost as new ice rinks and Olympic-related facilities are built over the next two years.
His solution: a no-net-loss policy that would see an equivalent amount of land greened for every piece paved or built on -- through shrinking the size of parking lots, or through acquisitions and expansion in other areas, for example.
Herbert says the move could be a step toward Vancouver becoming the first city in B.C. to develop a "city park reserve" -- with provisions similar to the province's Agricultural Land Reserve.
"There's increasing density and demand for city land, but [the supply of] land is something that doesn't increase," Herbert told The Province. "If we continue at the pace we're going now, there will be less [open] park, less green ground, less space for people to play, less space for birds and animals."
Spencer noted that city council is drafting an EcoDensity policy to guide Vancouver through an expected heavy population growth, and that parklands will become increasingly critical as both recreation zones and environmental reserves.
"If we're filling in backyards with granny suites, and filling in every last corner of yards, if Vancouver remains a destination for people across the region, every last foot of park is going to matter," he said.
Herbert's argument has the support of the Lower Mainland branch of the Sierra Club.
Eric Lorenz, chair of the group, said he hopes to see a policy that includes all forms of parkland -- including forest, beaches and wetlands, and an appropriate means developed to calculate "net loss."
"If the parcel you start with is forest and you get offered grass, that's a net loss of forest, which is a quality habitat and a good carbon sink," he said. "Any policy is better than none, but we hope staff [can] come up with a ranking of what direction we should go in trading."