Statement on the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Meeting, July 19, 2022
The following statement can be attributed to General Manager Donnie Rosa:
Last night’s Park Board Committee meeting was recessed due to disruption caused by members of the public in the gallery. To be clear, the Park Board welcomes passionate debate and dialogue. However, we are also committed to safe, respectful, and welcoming spaces for all. Last night’s meeting took a turn that meant we could not ensure the safety of the public, staff, and commissioners.
During the meeting, multiple members of the public yelled at the commissioners and staff in attendance, including swearing and pounding on the chamber doors. A speaker was heckled as they left the podium. Commissioners and staff had to be escorted out of the building by park rangers, who stayed on until everyone had exited the building safely. Speakers ignored direction from the Chair, who had the duty and the authority to ensure the process was fair and safe for all involved. Much of this activity was not captured on the livestream.
This environment was not conducive to the safe, respectful, and robust debate that we expect at municipal government meetings. It was not a safe workplace for our staff who are working on this project at the Board’s direction. As a result, the meeting was recessed.
Ahead of the meeting tonight, we remind speakers this is a local government meeting, not a town hall or a rally, with a process to be followed so the Board can hear from the public on the decision before them.
Security staff and park rangers will be onsite at tonight’s meeting to ensure the safety of all attendees. We thank everyone in advance for their cooperation.
I also want to note the concerns raised by a staff member who spoke at the meeting last night. While we are unable to comment on individual human resource issues, we take all allegations of bullying or harassment seriously and have met with him directly subsequent to his remarks. Staff have access to their union, CUPE 1004, who can provide support too. I can confirm that retaliation against staff for raising concerns of bullying or harassment in good faith is prohibited at the City of Vancouver.