Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation gives final approval to its 50-year parks and recreational services master plan, entitled VanPlay.
The new plan, developed over three years following “conversations” and surveys involving thousands of residents, stakeholders, partners and consultants, aims to take into account the system’s many challenges, including inequity, increasing and varying community needs, climate change, aging infrastructure, stretched resources, and “ever-shifting urgent priorities.”
Actions target activities relating to park acquisition, design and operations; “recreation” — predominantly outdoor amenities; “facilities” – predominantly indoor amenities: and natural areas in parks.
The plan also features three “strategic bold moves”:
- Decisions driven by equity, allowing the Park Board and staff to begin to address imbalances in the delivery of resources such as trees, parks, land use and infrastructure so that historically under-served areas of the city can be identified. The plan’s engagement process found that equity, inclusion, and access are top priorities for the future. By focusing projects, resources, funding, and effort on these areas of the city, over time, provision will become more equitable.
- Assets to meet Vancouver’s growing and changing needs. Taking stock of Park Board assets, such as park space, sports fields, ice rinks and urban forests, and setting targets for future service excellence will help prioritize investments and align funding.
- Connectivity -a vision for a connected parks and recreation system. Creating vibrant, healthy communities by encouraging the connection and integration of parks and facilities with the neighbourhood, the city and the region. The connected network will create places to play, exercise and socialize while providing pathways for the movement of urban wildlife and rainwater, with direct and intuitive connections for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages and abilities.
The plan says this concept is based on the seawall, “a pathway that provides connections with a park-like experience and also reflects First Nations principles such as a strong sense of belonging on the land, relationship to the water, and the importance of gathering spaces and places to heal.”
A separate study of and 25-year plan for Vancouver’s water-based recreational amenities — beaches, pools and water parks — done under the title VanSplash — was also approved in 2019. The result of three years of public engagement, VanSplash calls for a mix of pool sizes and types plus a new outdoor pool in South Vancouver, a renewed pool at Britannia Community Centre, and recommends a feasibility study for a naturally filtered swimming pool and aquatic competition facility.
The previous city-wide parks and recreation master plan was completed in 1992.
This plan began in 2017, with data collection, analysis, best-practices research and consultations. In July, 2018, the Park Board approved an inventory and analysis report, describing the state of parks and recreation in Vancouver, including findings from community, staff, and stakeholder engagement relating to current challenges and opportunities for the future. It also named 10 goals, with areas of focus for the next 25 years.
Vancouver Park Board, The Playbook Implementation Plan, September, 2019.