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'Think big': Ferris wheel, zipline, restaurants among possible ways Vancouver parks could boost revenue

"We're facing significant expenses that we don't have funds for," said one parks board commissioner.
The Queen Elizabeth Ferris Wheel (left) and Prospect Point Bar and Grill (right) are examples of partnerships of sorts between the park board an private enterprises.

Keeping the city's parks in order and on budget is becoming more difficult, and to combat that the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is open to big ideas from private enterprises.

The board passed a motion on Jan. 16 to encourage staff to "think big" when it comes to revenue generation, specifically when it comes to increased commercial revenues.

"We're facing significant expenses that we don't have funds for," said Comm Marie-Claire Howard, who moved the motion. "It's quite apparent we have to deal with 
climate change, we have to deal with the densification of the city which means more use of our facilities, and then we have an aging infrastructure."

"We can only go to the taxpayers for so much revenue."

That could include the return of the Queen Elizabeth Ferris Wheel and zipline. Other ideas floated during the meeting were coffee trucks being allowed at parks where kids' soccer games are happening, more beach cafes, summer pop-up spots, or longboard rentals.

"We can provide new services that would make those spaces more enjoyable for a large part of our population," she said.

Howard noted that she wasn't saying any of the ideas mentioned should be done, but only they should be considered.

Steve Jackson, the park board's director of business services, noted the idea of bringing more businesses into city parks is a great opportunity but requires a delicate balance.

"We would love to hear from the public and their expectations of that and that trade-off between public space and commercialization of that space," he told the board.

Comm. Tom Digby, the only non-ABC Vancouver member of the board, supported the motion but had some reservations.

"For 135 years the citizens have been building these parks," he said. "So the fact of having businesses involved in our parks and taking advantage of them for their own commercial purposes; I'm not opposed to that, it's just how it gets done."

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