Vancouver Park Board floats balloon ban

Jessica Kerr - Vancouver Courier

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A motion by commissioner Stuart Mackinnon asks the park board to ban the use and display of balloons in parks, community centres and other areas within the board’s jurisdiction.

The Vancouver Park Board will next week entertain a motion that could deflate future festivities in city parks, community centres and beaches.

The motion, tabled by Green Party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon, asks the board to prohibit balloons in parks, community centres and other areas under the board’s jurisdiction.

It states that balloons, made of plastic and latex, are non-renewable and are increasingly found in landfills, on beaches, in waterways, oceans and other natural areas. It says deflated balloons pose a risk to animals, such as sea turtles, birds and dolphins, as they frequently misidentify deflated balloons as food, which can lead to stomach and intestinal blockages and eventual starvation.

It also cites a study by the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the DuPont Institute that found that balloons cause more childhood deaths that any other toy.

Mackinnon said it’s an issue he’s been considering for some time, but one event earlier this summer in particular solidified it for him. It was at the A-maze-ing Laughter statues in the West End. Several helium balloons had been tied to each of the figures and, he said, he saw children untying some of the balloons, which were then flying off over English Bay.

“What we need is some good education here,” he said, adding that’s the purpose of his motion.

“I love balloons myself,” he said, acknowledging that they are fun, inexpensive and easy to acquire.

“We just don’t think about what happens to them.”

Mackinnon said what was a fairly minor motion has garnered a lot of attention. After the agenda was made public, he was inundated with calls, emails and messages on social media — most of it positive.

The motion will be considered at Monday’s meeting.

@JessicaEKerr
jkerr@vancourier.com

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