Friday, 25 March 2011

Clarifying the parks space policy under the OCP

For many years a number of truisms about Lower Capilano have been promoted and repeated to the point where they were broadly accepted as fact.  These 'facts' have assumed a life of their own and served to deflect and obscure examination of key aspects of our community, reinforcing set opinions and the status quo.  

As a result of the OCP process, many of these previously unchallenged 'facts' have come under scrutiny and found to be lacking.  One of the consistent platforms for discouraging any redevelopment of the community has been the belief that lower Capilano lacked sufficient park space for the population.  As we begin to parse out this situation, we find that there is actually more than adequate park space.  For the proponents of the status quo however,  these large and available green spaces are not legitimately considered to be parks as they are not wholly owned by the District of NorthVancouver.  To paraphrase Shakespeare, "A park by any other owner would not smell as sweet."

Below is my recent letter to Tom Lancaster, DNV's urban planner responsible for the Lower Capilano Conceptual Plan.  The refined conceptual plan and redevelopment for Lower Capilano envisages an additional 15,000 sq. metres/1.5 hectares of public parks and green space as a result of the rebuilding of this "gateway" to the North Shore.  

For more background and design sketches of this conceptual plan please go to the March 16th posting,   "Distortion and Evasions/Unhelpful comments thrown at the community"

March 24, 2011
To:  Tom Lancaster   email:     


I was astonished at last night's Lower Cap meeting to hear the position (again/still) being advanced by a member of the community that our neighbourhood is deficient in park space.  The rubric of the DNV Parks Department's policy of 2 hectares of park/1,000 residents as written is poorly framed and presented without context.  Although well-intentioned, this policy fails to adequately define significant terms of reference that would make this policy appropriate and meaningful.

For example, the policy fails to state that this 2 hectares/1,000 is an average of park space across the district, or to define any criteria of access or adjacency to this goal of park space. 

What is confusing to many of us living in Lower Capilano, is to hear the specious position of "lack of park space"  being promoted under the banner of the 2 hectares policy.  Proponents of the "no/little park space" maintain that existing park or green space within the community should not considered "park" if the land is not all fully owned by the DNV.

Under this scenario, the Capilano Regional Park (approx. 16,000 sq. metres) is not regarded as available park space, despite the fact that it lies less than a 30 second walk from the door of a good number of North of Fullerton residents. 

Similarly, the west side of the Capilano river, extending south from Woodcroft, is disregarded as available park space.  This long, wooded and benched riverside path is used extensively by many Woodcroft residents, local residents and hikers heading up to the Capilano Watershed.  Calculating this pathway on the basis of a modest 12 metre width along its length, yields an additional 8,000+ sq. metres of green space, readily accessible to all ambulatory residents.

Taken at face value, the "2 hectares" policy is used to promote an idea that every resident be entitled to their share of park space, not at the end of a 5 minute walk on a connecting trail, but is to be located beside every door step. 

This "2 hectares/1,000" policy is deeply flawed as stated, not to mention unrealistic in the very narrow sense being advanced by many of its advocates.  The wording and terms of definition of this policy need to be re-framed within the OCP in a way that gives constructive and appropriate direction to planners and residents.

Doug Curran

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