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Change, Controversy, & Compromise: Public Reaction to New Facilities in Vancouver's Parks

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Title: Change, Controversy, & Compromise: Public Reaction to New Facilities in Vancouver's Parks
Author: Buchanan, Don
Issue Date: 2008-03-07
Abstract: The objective of this report was to examine change, controversy, and compromise in the site selection process for new activities in Vancouver’s parks. The research questions for the study were: What elements of the three proposals for new facilities in Vancouver parks generated controversy? What are the similarities and differences between the controversy generated by the three projects examined, and how were these concerns addressed? ● What are the implications for future projects? The scope of the report was limited to facilities within the City of Vancouver as the report was being written to inform site selection processes undertaken by the Vancouver Park Board. The following three facilities were examined: ● Downtown Skateboard Park ● Beach Volleyball Tournament Facility ● Stanley Park Community Garden A two-part methodology was utilized. First, two precedents were studied via on-line literature including Park Board reports and minutes, and media files from the websites of the Vancouver Courier Newspaper and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Second, a detailed case study was undertaken of the Stanley Park Community Garden, a joint project of the West End Residents’ Association and the Stanley Park Ecology Society. This case study included a review of Garden-related on-line Park Board documents and indepth interviews with various stakeholders involved in its creation. Information gathered on the precedents and case studies was organized into the following areas: ● Background and stakeholders ● Project development process ● Controversy and project outcome Areas of controversy identified by the general public in the research were organized by how commonly they occurred in the three processes – from most common to least common. They were then discussed in terms of how the controversy was managed. Parallels were drawn between the precedents and the case study, and the following controversial themes emerged: ● Consultation ● Change ● Noise ● Traffic and parking ● Private use of public space ● Loss of green space ● Design and appearance ● Attitude ● Dust and illegal activities ● Undocumented concerns Overall, the causes of controversy can be grouped into two broad categories – process issues and liveability impacts. There are a number of steps the Park Board could take to address these issues and increase dialogue in future planning processes. Issues that could be addressed to improve process concerns and liveability impacts are: ● Proactive communication ● Use of precedents ● Facilitating partnerships, education, and stewardship ● Better record keeping ● Good neighbour agreements In conclusion, this study examined the causes of controversy in three projects proposed for Vancouver’s parks, and how well that controversy was managed. In two of the three cases the controversy was addressed sufficiently that the projects were approved, and are now open and actively used. In the third case, the controversy proved insurmountable. It is hoped that this study will give the Park Board a clearer understanding of the controversies inherent in managing change, and the role of constructive dialogue when introducing new recreation activities to Vancouver’s parks.
Affiliation: Applied Science, Faculty ofCommunity and Regional Planning (SCARP), School of
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/542
Peer Review Status: Unreviewed
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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