I thought you might be interested in the last letter I sent to Mayor, Council and Park Board. Feel free to post or forward as you see fit.
Director, Friends of Bloedel Association
Your Worship Mayor Robertson,
I commend you in your gallant efforts to transform Vancouver into World’s Greenest City by 2020. Living green is the foundation for good health and well-being. Parks and green spaces affect our everyday moods, activities and emotional health.
I write regarding your challenge to residents of Vancouver in your Bright Green Future Action Plan: “to do their part, to rethink, re-evaluate, and re-imagine the way Vancouver works and how we lead our lives”. Mr. Mayor, I challenge you and Vancouver Park Board to rethink, re-evaluate and re-imagine your actions and processes regarding the Bloedel Conservatory. Saving the Conservatory and its extraordinary garden aviary will not only shine as your greatest green success story, but it will also accentuate your contribution to positive health impacts for all residents of our city.
It seems the Park Board has forgotten its own Strategic Plan for 2005-2010. Therein it advocates for the promotion of wellness in body, mind and spirit; for reduction of barriers for broader participation in parks; for long-term renewal of park and recreation facilities and it boasts of being a champion of personal and community health and well-being. Not only does this plan promise to incorporate innovative interpretation of environmental benefits, but it also advocates the promotion and improvement of universal accessibility of parks and recreation facilities for as many people as possible.
Many health care organizations in Vancouver, including the Adanac Park Lodge (Little Mountain Place) Long-Term Care Facility, BC’s Children's Hospital Child Adolescent Psychiatry, and the George Pearson Centre, utilize the Bloedel Conservatory for horticultural and rehabilitation therapy. Health care practitioners have found the Bloedel garden of great benefit to their patients and state there is virtually nowhere left in Vancouver – especially during the rainy, cold, windy winters – to take children who are in hospital for months on end, or the elderly and rehabilitation patients who have mobility issues. In short, the Bloedel Conservatory is of tremendous benefit to the health, well-being, recovery and long-term care for all residents in this city. How much money could the city of Vancouver save in health care costs if it promoted more hospital health partnership programs with the Conservatory?
Isn’t it interesting that passive therapeutic horticulture has been proven to alleviate depression; help those that are recovering from illness, surgery, grief, and post-traumatic stress disorder; alleviate the stress, confusion, and invasive treatments of cancer; positively impact seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; and lower pain, anxiety and fatigue? “Since the 1980’s, studies have documented the healing efficacy of restorative nature and have shown that it reduces the fatigue of stress more quickly and for a longer time period than other methods”(3). Reducing stress decreases blood pressure, decreases heart rate, triggers the body’s natural healing abilities, and promotes relaxation. Relaxation in turn restores the balance to our nervous system, is psychologically restorative, and reduces cortisol, adrenalin and other stress hormones in our body.
The Bloedel Conservatory does all of this on top of simply bringing joy, awe and wonder to young and old alike. Isn’t it praiseworthy that for 40 years, the City of Vancouver has had an affordable and accessible therapeutic Eden situated at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park? And is it not unconscionable that those who are working so hard to make Vancouver the Greenest City in the World – would shamelessly proceed to close this extraordinary sanctuary down? Our Conservatory could easily be the least expensive but one of the most effective health care assets we possess.
Mr. Mayor, you have greatly undervalued the power of our humble Conservatory. Prentice Bloedel, the inspirational advocate for beneficial impacts of green space on human health, was a pioneer in realizing how the human psyche benefits from nature. He entrusted our city with one of our greatest gifts: The Bloedel Conservatory. This gift deserves celebration. Not closure, destruction, transfer or privatization.
Government has a duty to create leadership people believe in. Set precedence and work with the Friends of Bloedel Association to maximize the health incentives our Conservatory already provides. This will shine as your greatest green success story, and as an apex of health, wellness and education at the top of Vancouver.
Director, Friends of Bloedel Association
1. Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future. An Action Plan for Becoming the World’s Greenest City by 2020.
2. Vancouver Park and Recreation Board, Strategic Plan 2005-2010.
3. Schauman, S. (2009). Nature is a Health Bargain: Health is Our Most Precious Asset. http://www.earthspiritheal.com/EARTH_SPIRIT_HEAL/Nature%
4. Malchiodi, C. (2008). Unplug that Plasma Screen, Take Two Doses of Nature, and Call Me in the Morning. Psychology Today: The Healing Arts.
5. Therapeutic Horticulture, Dr. Aimée Taylor. http://www.horticulturaltherapist.com/index.html
6. Wichrowski, M. (2009). Rusk Gets a Little Greener. The Rusk Institute, Vol 3., No. 1
7. Van den Berg, A., Hartig, T., Staats, H. (2007). Preference for Nature in Urbanized Societies: Stress, Restoratioin, and the Pursuit of Sustainability. Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 63, No.1, pp.79-96
NOTE - this was posted on the site January 3, 2010
I am a director for Friends of the Bloedel, a grassroots organization that was started in response to the recent decision of Vancouver Parks Board to close the Bloedel Conservatory. In my search for documentation regarding agreements between the Bloedel Foundation and the City of Vancouver (to prove the City was entrusted with Conservatory and still has a civic obligation to maintain its legacy), I came across the great article by Art Drysdale titled "Save the Bloedel Conservatory".
I am writing with the hope that you might be interested in posting our website: http://www.friendsofthebloedel.ca and urge people to sign the petition, leave comments, become a member of our organization and write to Park Board Members/City Council/Mayor of Vancouver. There is strength in numbers and as Art's article attests, with enough public pressure, even seemingly insurmountable odds can be overcome.
Thank you for your consideration,
With Best Regards,
PLEASE NOTE THAT ART'S TWO ARTICLES ON THIS ARE LOCATED HERE...