A group of Bloedel Conservatory supporters plans to submit next week a bid to prevent the closure of the Queen Elizabeth Park facility.
John Coupar, president of the Friends of the Bloedel Association, told the Straight his group has partnered with the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association to send a proposal to the Vancouver park board.
Under the proposal, the groups would provide educational and marketing support to promote the conservatory.
“The biggest thing is once the attendance is even at traditional levels it’s a revenue-neutral or cash-positive venue, so then it ceases to be a problem,” Coupar said by phone this afternoon (April 21).
As part of an effort to slash $2.8 million from its annual budget, the park board voted 4-3 in November to close the domed building that houses exotic plants and dozens of colourful birds.
Board staff cited increasing maintenance costs and dwindling attendance as reasons to shut down the ageing facility, which has an annual operating deficit of $250,000.
“I think the whole thing was ill-conceived,” Coupar said. “I think it was a knee-jerk reaction to a budget cut that came down from the city.”
The decision sparked outrage and prompted a campaign to keep the conservatory open. Coupar said the Friends of the Bloedel have raised more than $50,000 and collected 6,000 signatures on a petition that was presented to the park board in January.
“It’s really a green jewel,” he said. “It’s at the highest point in our city. It’s in the geographic centre of our city. It’s just an awesome place for people to visit.”
The park board has set April 30 as the deadline for proposals for the future use of the conservatory, which remains open until further notice.