SHAMIM SHIVJI – VISION VANCOUVER PARK BOARD CANDIDATE
Vancouver – Shamim Shivji is a candidate for Park Board with Vision Vancouver in the upcoming municipal election on October 20th.
I want to make life better for people – that’s why I’m running for parks board with the Vision Vancouver team. As a parks board commissioner, I will be a strong voice for better and more equitable city amenities across Vancouver’s 25 neighbourhoods, investment in our parks and public spaces, protection of our coastal waters for future generations, and civic engagement that respects everyone. I believe this election is a great opportunity to keep Vancouver moving forward, focused on the needs and interests of ordinary people, and that will be my top priority if I’m elected.
My personal journey to public service started with my dismay about the coarsening of political discourse here at home and around the world. I am very concerned by the rise of misogyny and Islamophobia. I strongly believe that my getting involved in public life can help counter the rise of such prejudices. In times like ours, it’s vital for the public to see and embrace diverse community leaders — including women and individuals of Islamic faith — who have the capacity and willingness to serve the public in leadership roles. The more diverse our civic leaders are, the more the public will recognize that the gender and faith of individuals are non-issues for participation in public life. Everyone can make positive contributions. As well, I believe that it is critical for younger generations of our multicultural nation to view public service as a viable pursuit that is accessible to all citizens.
I found my voice when I took positions of leadership over the past seven years at our local community association, the West Point Grey Community Association (“WPGCA”). The WPGCA is one of 23 community centre associations throughout Vancouver that operate 23 local community centres jointly with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation (“Park Board”). These community centres collectively serve over 100,000 residents annually.
Upon becoming President, I found that I was able to use my skills as a lawyer and mediator to work collaboratively and constructively with a diverse community board, other association presidents within the community centre network, and with the Park Board and City staff to make decisions that served our local communities well. For example, over the past two and a half years we successfully negotiated a comprehensive Joint Operating Agreement that has been approved by the community centre associations of 17 community centres. My hope is that this will lead to a new chapter of collaboration between the community centre network and the Park Board.
My experience in a community-based leadership role with public partners gave me the courage and confidence to step up to serve our broader city-wide community. I have served on boards of many different non-profit organizations in the past but when I served as President in this community-based leadership role, I discovered that I had valuable skills and experience vital to public service, where working to make life better for people requires you to collaborate with diverse stakeholders.
One issue I’m especially passionate about is community engagement. I have experienced firsthand how engagement of community stakeholders and community groups can lead to win-win outcomes for all. The on-the-ground experience of community partners can lead to innovative solutions that benefit us all collectively. Currently, community engagement happens through the city’s advisory committees, the online Vancouver Talks platform which routinely informs the public about new developments and opportunities in the city and offers opportunities to provide input through various online surveys, the city also conducts pop-up townhall-style meetings and focus group workshops. The Park Board is also uniquely suited for community engagement because the Park Board meetings take place in the evenings and are open to community members. Over the past four years, the city’s community engagement rate has increased considerably. There is always room for improvement, and as park board commissioner I’ll be dedicated to making better community engagement happen.
Increasing equity in city amenities across all our city neighbourhoods is another priority. For people in Vancouver today, the quality of parks and recreation services depends on where you live. In some neighbourhoods, it’s very good. In other neighbourhoods, the facilities and public spaces fail to meet the community’s needs. I believe all Vancouver residents should have access to high-quality services, no matter where they live. This will mean collaborating with senior governments to invest in new accessible parks and facilities to meet the needs of our growing population. It means expediting the renewal of our aging infrastructure and working with community partners to offer all residents increased access to affordable recreation programs and services. The city does not have the tax-base to build new amenities alone so we need to partner with senior government levels who have more funding sources available. At present, we have a unique opportunity ahead of us to partner with senior governments because we have governments at the federal and provincial level who are community-minded and willing to invest in our local communities.
I am proud of our city’s record of being the greenest city in North America. Moving forward, we need to continue to build on this achievement to benefit our future generations. Protection of our coastal waters will mean, among other things, improving upon our Greenest City Action Plan targets and as much as possible, keeping up the fight against the risk of increase in oil tankers in our coastal waters. Oil spills in our coastal waters would be disastrous for our waters.
If you believe in a Vancouver where people come first, if you want every Vancouver resident to have great parks and recreation facilities close to home, if you want Vancouver to stay the Greenest City, if you want to protect our coast from oil spills, if you want your voice heard about decisions that affect you, and if you want to send a strong and positive message about the importance of diversity, I would be grateful for your support. On October 20th, vote for the Vision Vancouver team for park board, school board and city council.
What are your priorities? I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about me can be found on my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/shamim.shivji.vancouver
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