Opinion Column

Balloon ban is bonkers

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

(xp3rt5/Getty Images)

(xp3rt5/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Park Board will vote at their next meeting on Monday night on whether they will ban balloons in parks, community centres and any other areas within their jurisdiction.

Well we aren’t known as the “no fun city” or “Bancouver” for nothing.

When I lived in North Vancouver and a small condo was the only form of housing my husband and I could afford for our family, we threw and attended many kids’ birthday parties in the park.

When you can’t fit more than a friend or two into your condo, the local playground or community centre becomes a natural next choice for a birthday party on a budget.

We would reserve the space through the Park Board, show up at our allotted time to decorate a table, have a picnic, play some games, open a few presents and then clean it all up and go home.

The kids love it and balloons really are integral to the celebration.

Ask any young child what kind of decorations they would like for their birthday party and balloons are likely to be at the very top of the list.

Housing in Vancouver is so expensive that a lot of families are living in small spaces, their children shouldn’t have to miss out on the birthday balloons because of a navel-gazing virtue signalling decision by the Park Board.

Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon tabled the motion, which says that balloons are non-renewable, clog landfills and should not be permitted.

There are a lot of things that fall into that category: coffee cups and Styrofoam containers (both of which the City of Vancouver is actually in the process of trying to ban), and things like diapers and gift-wrap.

When people live in smaller homes in the city, the parks become their living rooms.

The Park Board needs to respect that people will want to use the space in different ways and be accommodating of that, rather than enforcing a heavy-handed ban.

It’s not like the Park Board doesn’t have real issues to deal with. Residents in False Creek have raised concerns about the increasing number of needles and syringes in their parks and playgrounds.

A used needle is a far bigger health hazard than a piece of balloon. Instead of restricting good old-fashioned fun, the Park Board should tackle those real problems.