VANCOUVER, B.C. – Today Green Party School Board Trustees Chan-Pedley, Fraser, and Gonzalez issued a statement about their amendment to the No Sale of Public Land motion voted on at the Vancouver School Board (VSB) meeting this evening.
The amendment put forward by Trustee Fraser preserves the spirit of the original motion, committing to maintaining public lands for the public good, but allows for consideration of innovative proposals and partnerships with other public land owners where the land would remain in the public portfolio, as well as partnerships with First Nations.
“The importance of keeping public lands for public use cannot be overstated,” said Fraser. “Every school site owned by the VSB is integral to families in every neighbourhood across Vancouver; the availability of land for public education must be maintained for future generations.”
Trustee Gonzalez expressed gratitude that the amendment made important clarifications around the VSB’s financial responsibility, ensuring the board can effectively steward the Public portfolio.
“Keeping the land in the public domain is critical; however, a nuanced approach is key to responsibly managing VSB land. Innovative partnerships with public land owners such as the City of Vancouver or BC Housing could keep land public, contribute to affordable housing, childcare, and generate funds for student needs.”
Gonzalez noted two previous motions she brought to the board in support of building housing on VSB land for vulnerable youth and the district’s workforce.
“I want to ensure that these motions remain feasible and public partnerships may be necessary in order to build the affordable housing we’re striving for.”
Trustee Chan-Pedley expressed the importance of meeting the needs of current and future generations of students when considering the motion.
“This isn’t just about generating funds, it’s also about partnerships that create value that’s not monetary,” said Chan-Pedley.
“We currently have 45 schools awaiting seismic upgrades and the Province will only cover the bare minimum investment needed to make our schools structurally sound, which will leave Vancouver students without the programs and spaces they need to thrive.
“We must continue to advocate to the Ministry of Education for the schools that students deserve, and at the same time consider how we can enhance our facilities through community partnerships. We have to stop working in silos and collaborate on creative ways to turn our schools into whole, healthy neighbourhood hubs. We can’t do this ourselves - It takes a village to support the children and youth of our city.”
In closing, Trustee Fraser highlighted the Board’s commitment to Reconciliation.
“If this motion were to only allow for land swaps or leases, that would not allow for a full range of discussion,” said Fraser. "The ability to transfer land ownership is an important part of furthering Reconciliation with First Nations.”
Fraser’s amendment passed 6-3, with Trustees Reddy, Parrot, and Wong opposed. The amended motion passed 6-3, with Trustees Reddy, Parrot, and Wong abstaining.
That the Vancouver Board of Education not dispose of any of its land by sale or transfer in fee simple in such a way that would decrease the overall value of Public Assets. This would not preclude (1) consideration of proposals or partnerships from other public land owners, for example the City of Vancouver and BC Housing, where the land would remain in the Public Portfolio, or from First Nations; or (2) land swaps or leases pursuant to the procedure in Policy 20.