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Debate over selling naming rights to Vancouver parks, assets heats up

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Debate is heating up over the City of Vancouver exploring the idea to sell the naming rights to parks and other public assets.

It’s an idea Mayor Ken Sim has floated before – and now he plans to move ahead.

The money would then be used to fund infrastructure improvements and help to stem rising taxes.

Most recently -- city council approved a 7.5 per cent property tax hike.

But some politicians are speaking out against the approach.

"This is public land," Vancouver Park Board Chair Brennan Bastyovanszky told CTV News on Wednesday. "The whole purpose of having the park board is to protect green spaces.

"If there’s wholesale commercialization or privatization and having something like Coca-Cola Park, it does actually strip out the beauty in it. It can put in barriers to prevent people from enjoying it."

While the ABC majority on council back the mayor on this – there were opposing voices in the council chamber.

"I feel strongly that public space is public space," Green Party's Coun. Adriane Carr told CTV. "It shouldn't be commercialized. It shouldn't be corporatized. It's rare and it's wonderful."

In a statement sent to CTV News Vancouver, Sim said the Mayor's Budget Task force recommended looking at revenue generation opportunities through "innovative solutions" including naming rights.

"My team and I are committed to exploring new and innovative ways to address our city's $500 million annual infrastructure funding deficit and support our vibrant and growing community without burdening taxpayers," the statement said, adding the initiatives could "generate significant revenue" for the city.

"Staff are already rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. We plan to kick off conversations with interested parties as soon as fall 2024. Stay tuned for more updates!"

Sim's move comes after the city announced a deal for Freedom Mobile to have the naming rights to the new PNE amphitheatre when it opens in 2026. 

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