Local Heros Story in the Courier

Group seeks heroes for pathway of plaques

Playground named after slain police sergeant

Jeremy Shepherd, Special to Vancouver Courier

Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A community-based group known as My Own Back Yard is holding out for a hero until the end of April.

Whether they saved your life, taught your child to read, or just convinced your neighbour to turn down his stereo, they might be candidates for a plaque on MOBY’s local heroes pathway.

MOBY built a community garden and the Larry Young playground on East 11th Avenue and Commercial Drive, as well as a green space on Commercial Drive and East 12th Avenue.

MOBY chair Tina Dam hopes to add more hero plaques to community green space on Commercial Drive.View Larger Image View Larger Image

MOBY chair Tina Dam hopes to add more hero plaques to community green space on Commercial Drive.

Dan Toulgoet photo

The green space is the location of the local heroes pathway, where plaques will be erected June 5 to honour two deserving people, according to MOBY chair Tina Dam. MOBY is accepting written submissions, either by mail or email until April 30, although it asks that respondents nominate only one deserving person.

Dam said the criteria is quite broad, and the group would consider nominating a teacher who goes beyond their job description, a firefighter, a community organizer, or anyone who has influenced or inspired change in the community.

MOBY began six years ago, according to Dam, because a local resident wanted to get a dumpster removed. After the city removed the dumpster, MOBY eventually turned the area into a community garden.

Dam said MOBY is intended to be the opposite of NIMBY (not in my backyard), and is concerned with improving community spaces. Dam said the final judgment for the plaques will be made by representatives from MOSAIC, a non-profit organization that helps new immigrants, the First Christian Reformed Church, the Commercial Drive Business Improvement Association and Coastal Mental Health. “They’ll argue it out,” said Dam.

Pastor Trevor Vanderveen of the First Christian Reformed Church will be part of the deliberations scheduled to take place in May.

“The longer we live here in East Vancouver, the more stories we hear about people quietly going about making their neighbourhood a better place,” Vanderveen wrote in an email to the Courier.

Vanderveen said he was hoping to recognize people who work to better the neighbourhood, whether by tangible improvements or fostering a greater sense of community spirit. He looks forward to honouring people who don’t ordinarily seek or gain recognition. Recognition of the local hero may also include a blog, which would provide a more in-depth view of the person’s qualifications, according to Dam.

The Larry Young playground was built last year with help from Let Them Be Kids, a charitable group that has built playgrounds across Canada. The playground is named after slain Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Larry Young, who was killed in the line of duty in 1987.

Young was not expected to work on the day he died, but decided to lead his team to make a high-risk arrest. He led a VPD emergency response team into a drug dealer’s home and was shot and killed by the dealer. Another officer was wounded and the drug dealer was also shot and killed during the gunfight. An account of the incident can be found in a memorial at the Vancouver Police Museum.

Young was a member of the VPD for 18 years and worked in a variety of departments. He was one of the founders of the emergency response team and helped write the team’s manual.


© Vancouver Courier 2010

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