Ezra Bloom says community consultation on the future of Vancouver’s parks, and the city’s involvement with the queer community, is essential to improving the city’s services.
Bloom, who is running with COPE for a seat on the park board, is an artist, organizer, curator and critic, as well as a student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
He says the parks and the community centres play an integral role in the city. But, he says, he’s concerned the system is becoming vulnerable to other interests. “I see a city that is increasingly influenced by developers,” he tells Xtra.
He says that when a city is overwhelmingly influenced by any group that can afford to leverage some influence, it has an impact on both the community and democracy. “We must continue to work at many levels to create safer, healthier communities,” he says. “However, if we plan to stop the omnipresent and completely mind-boggling destruction of our planet, we must reappropriate the democratic political process.”
He says the park board is direct democracy in action, one of the city’s approachable boards. “I want to expand that,” he says.
Bloom wants to look further at the gender-neutral washroom situation. In April, Vancouver’s park board unanimously accepted the recommendations of its trans and gender-variant working group to create more gender-neutral spaces in public facilities, a step many people hailed as groundbreaking.
“We need to continue the consultation process and make sure we’re not settling for half measures in terms of access,” Bloom says. “Why are we focusing on gender at all?”
He says the possibility of establishing a third washroom could put trans people in the situation of outing themselves in public. The goal should be inclusive solutions, not segregation, he says, adding that more work needs to be done to move everyone toward single washrooms.
Bloom is confident that his experience as an organizer and fundraiser, both for non-profit and arts organizations, will give him valuable skills he can put to use as a park board commissioner, if elected.
Having grown up on Salt Spring Island, raised by his single mom with his two sisters, Bloom says he has spent his life surrounded by art, counter-culture and activism. He has lived in East Vancouver for eight years and says he is connected to Vancouver’s underground and radical arts communities.
He says parks are where Vancouverites spend the majority of their free time. “These are places where we remind ourselves and the world that there is more in our hearts than plastic — and that the oil needed for plastic isn’t worth risking our lives over. It is our collective beliefs and determination that can make this city livable for the common folk, and not a playground for the super-rich.”