Pall Beesla has always been deeply concerned with the issues that affect the city of Vancouver. “I live, I play, I work, I volunteer, all in Vancouver,” he advises. “Because I am so rooted in Vancouver, all of the issues I bring up and work on as a community advocate are Vancouver-based.”
Pall’s interests in his hometown started early. “I began to volunteer at the Ross Street Gurudwara as a kid. It is a religious institute, yes, but it is also a place for the community. The Ross Street Gurudwara has a long history of being involved in the larger community and supporting community initiatives. That is why I gravitated to it.” Pall’s regularly volunteer efforts at the temple eventually led to his being asked to asked to serve on the temple executive. “I was excited to be in a position where I could help to organize activities, I could work with other community organizations to address community issues together,” he explains. Pall quickly learned the importance of being organized, clear communication, teamwork, setting goals and setting about ways to achieve those goals. “I didn’t have all those skillsets before I started,” he advises, “but I learned them all very quickly.”
During his time with the temple executive, Pall recognized that many of the issues in our society are social issues. “Having a religious institution where people can turn to is important, but so too is ensuring those who come to the temple can also access other supports they need,” he explains. “That’s why we set about working with community partners to bring in computer classes, blood drives, organ transplant awareness, bringing in a cadets’ program and offering information on resources in the community like counseling.”
After several years with the executive, many people approached him and suggested he consider expanding his efforts to reach even more people. “After careful consideration I decided to run as a Park Board Commissioner, representing the NPA Party, the oldest civic party in Vancouver,” Pall advises.
The Vancouver Park Board oversees more than 230 public parks, community centers, pools, ice rinks, fitness centers, golf courses, marinas, playing fields and community attractions such as the Vancouver Aquarium.
Pall chose to run with the Vancouver NPA (Non-Partisan Association) because it has a long-standing reputation of representing Vancouver residents’ needs. He also connected to the NPA mayoralty candidate, Ken Sim, who like Pall grew up in Vancouver and is a member of a minority group (Sim is of Chinese-Canadian background). “I felt this is a party that embraces diversity,” he advises, “and wants to hear from diverse voices.” Pall feels many great candidates are coming forward for Park Board and City Council. “It’s great to see so many quality people coming forward,” he notes. “It shows how much people care about their city.”
Like a city bus driver, Pall is regularly in contact with residents of the city and often strikes up conversations with bus passengers who share their take on issues impacting the city. His ability to listen to diverse voices, he feels, would serve him well in the role of a Parks Board Commissioner. “I drive around the city all day,” he explains. “I not only see what’s happening around the city, but I get an opportunity to hear people’s opinions – what they think is wrong with, but also what they think is great with the city.”
Pall has two young children and understands the needs of families in the city. “My daughter is in the same pre-school that I went to,” he notes. “It has come full circle, and I see just how important facilities like parks and community centers are. We need to preserve the parks we have, and we need to see investment to ensure these parks are meeting the needs of families and other Vancouver residents.”