NPA Park Board Commissioner John Coupar issues statement regarding Oppenheimer Park situation

Commissioner Coupar says he is “very disappointed” by the weak response from the Park Board Chair and the Green-COPE alliance on Park Board to the ongoing Oppenheimer Park situation.

September 6, 2019, Vancouver, B.C. – NPA Vancouver Park Board Commissioner John Coupar has issued the following statement in response to this morning’s press conference by the Park Board Chair regarding Oppenheimer Park:

“I am very disappointed by the weak response from the Green-COPE alliance on Park Board to the ongoing situation in Oppenheimer Park. Both myself and my fellow NPA Park Board Commissioner, Tricia Barker, have advocated at the board table several times for an injunction to be issued so that all those who wish to access the park for leisure and recreation are safe and secure.

“I am particularly concerned that the Green-COPE alliance on Park Board have opted for the weakest of all possible responses to the Oppenheimer Park situation by doing nothing more than writing a letter to the City of Vancouver to encourage them to implement a comprehensive housing strategy.

“Over the course of the Park Board’s 131-year history, Commissioners have had to make many difficult decisions in the interest of the parks under their jurisdiction. The Park Board has a fundamental duty to deliver great park and recreation experiences at every park in the city and ensure that all Vancouver parks are clean and safe, including Oppenheimer Park. The Downtown Eastside is particularly deficient in park space. Oppenheimer Park needs to be made safe and clean again for everyone to enjoy.”

Oppenheimer Park was first opened in 1902 as the Powell Street Grounds by Vancouver’s second mayor, David Oppenheimer. The Powell Street Grounds were later renamed “Oppenheimer Park” in his honour.

Since 2004, various initiatives by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and the Strathcona Business Improvement Association have attempted to return Oppenheimer Park to its original state as a safe place for community recreation.

In 2010, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation upgraded Oppenheimer Park with reconfigured pathways and the addition of a playground, basketball hoop, and a new field house, including bathrooms, meeting space, and public computer access. The park’s public facilities include a softball field and, notably, the park was once the home field for the famed and historically significant Asahi baseball team prior to World War II.

The stated mission of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is to provide, preserve, and advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit all people, communities, and the environment.

Under the Vancouver Charter, the Park Board has exclusive jurisdiction and control over park land in the City of Vancouver, including any structures, programs and activities.

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Media please email media@npavancouver.ca

NOTE: The Park Board met in camera several times during the summer and has now released the decisions made at those in camera meetings – links can be found below:

Oppenheimer Park Encampment – Safety & Housing Update – 2019-07-15

Urgent Park Board Response to Oppenheimer Park Safety Concerns – 2019-07-15

Oppenheimer Park Encampment – Release of Decisions – 2019-08-22

Oppenheimer Park Encampment – Update – 2019-09-05

Oppenheimer Park Encampment – Release of Decisions – 2019-09-05

Oppenheimer Park Encampment – 2019-09-05