News / Vancouver

Vancouver's Freedom of the City—to swim, park and die—is under threat

Some city councillors are appalled Vancouver is proposing to cut back on the trimmings of a prestigious civic honour.

Vancouver city hall.

Metro file

Vancouver city hall.

Did you know that Vancouver's highest civic honour comes not only with a fancy certificate, but free parking, free admission to city theatres and museums, and even a taxpayer-funded funeral?

It’s a pretty sweet deal. But some of the benefits of the Freedom of the City award could be chopped if city council accepts a staff recommendation to cut back on some of the trimmings, which were first added in 1978.

Staff say the various “freedoms” no longer align with similar awards bestowed by other Canadian cities, and are proposing to cut the funeral expenses and free parking, and to limit admission to city institutions to recreation centres, pools and rinks.

But the proposal has some councillors hot under the collar.

“Tomorrow Vision taking love + thanks out of Freedom of City award,” tweeted NPA Coun. George Affleck. “No framed award. No access to Civic Theatres, Museums + PNE. No free 3 hr parking. No funeral assistance. No plaques.

"Sheesh — thx for all you’ve done for the city. Here’s a certificate from Staples.”

Recent honourees included Mike Harcourt, a former premier of B.C. and former mayor of Vancouver; Judy Graves, a long-time advocate for the homeless; environmental campaigner and educator David Suzuki; and businessman Jimmy Pattison, ranked Canada’s 10th-richest person by Canadian Business in 2017.

Council will vote on the proposal tomorrow. 

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