Vancouver park board passes $730,000 in cuts to 2011 budget

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      The Vancouver park board approved over $700,000 in reductions to its 2011 budget Thursday evening (December 16).

      Cuts to parks will include reducing flower beds, lawn mowing and street pruning, as well as twinning the management of two community centres.

      The budget cuts follow city council’s decision to allocate $200,000 to keep public washrooms open and maintain cleaning services, and $100,000 towards eliminating youth user fees for playing fields, reducing what was initially a $1 million savings target.

      But some park commissioners questioned the budget process and a third year of cuts to parks.

      NPA commissioner Ian Robertson, who abstained in voting for the budget out of concerns over the process, said public meetings should have been held on the proposed cuts to parks before city council's decision.

      “If they were going to change the process then that should have been made clear at the beginning that there was going to be no public meetings to discuss the budget and that everyone should go to council,” Robertson told the Straight. “The question has to be asked, if that’s the direction, then why have an elected independent park board?”

      Park board chair Aaron Jasper said members of the public were encouraged to bring their concerns to city council’s public hearings on the budget.

      “I think we’ve made every attempt to delay a vote specifically to give the public a chance to share their thoughts with us on all the initiatives that were in that first draft, and to give the public as well as commissioners the opportunity to go to council,” Jasper told the Straight following the vote.

      “Whether they went and spoke directly or wrote an e-mail, we all had the opportunity and I can tell you myself, I spent many, many hours lobbying the chair of finance and lobbying city councillors, trying to make the case that yes parks are important, the services that we do provide are important.”

      Some members of the public addressed the park board before its vote Thursday, including Kate Perkins, the president of the Trout Lake Community Association.

      "The cuts have to stop," she told commissioners. "I think services are just going to continue to dwindle and dwindle and dwindle."

      The $730,000 in budget reduction initiatives include eliminating night security at Andy Livingstone Park, reducing flower and shrub beds, reducing a street tree pruning program, eliminating mowing in 14 percent of the city’s “passive turf” areas and twinning the management of Kitsilano and Douglas community centres.

      Green party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon also objected to the process, and voted against the budget in opposition to a third year of budget cuts to parks.

      “I ultimately cannot support this budget because once again, for the third year in a row, parks or park maintenance is taking the brunt of the cuts,” he told the board. “Year after year, our park maintenance has been reduced.”

      COPE Commissioner Loretta Woodcock also voted against the budget reductions in opposition to the cuts, although she praised Vision park commissioners for “advocating strongly” at city hall.

      “I think this board has been put in an untenable position because of the amount of cuts that we’ve had, in part in terms of the economy,” she told commissioners. “I’m hard pressed to support the $770,000 reduction even though I’m very pleased that we got some of our money back.”

      Jasper called the $300,000 allocated by city council “nothing to sneeze at”.

      “I never in my wildest dreams imagined getting elected and having to face having to make $5 million in cuts over three years, but we find ourselves in recession,” he told the Straight. "Let’s hope that with the economy improving that in the coming years we won’t have to face these kinds of steep cuts."



      Just Wondering

      Dec 17, 2010 at 4:19am

      I wonder where the next bicycle lane will be? You know, we should place a toll on these lanes under the user pay scam.

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      Peter Dimitrov

      Dec 17, 2010 at 10:04am

      This question needs an answer: What is total cost (planning, engineering, construction, public consultationt etc) to Vancouver taxpayers for GR's bikelane policy, backyard chicken policy, the extensive office renos at City Hall, the various trips to China & USA by GR and any staffers, the pure BS around the increased commercialization plan for the PNE/Playland site- opposed by many who reside in the area.

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      bob dylan

      Dec 17, 2010 at 12:46pm

      Aaron jasper says that the 300,000 allocated by City hall was nothing to sneeze at...what he fails to mention is that at that same Council meeting during a discussion with Raymond Louie Aaron Jasper stated... what goes on in the family, stays in the family... what family would that be Mr. Jasper?

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      Dec 17, 2010 at 1:06pm

      CoV should require cyclists to register their bikes and get a permit and we'll see how many true commuting cyclists there really are.

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      Dec 17, 2010 at 1:29pm

      Remember when you're walking through that bedraggled, overgrown park or walking into a stinking public restroom that our precious Mayor Gregor is sitting in a brand-new office on brand-new furniture, planning the next multi-million dollar bike lane and how much to raise our taxes to pay for all of his pet projects.

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      Short Sighted Vision Vancouver

      Dec 17, 2010 at 2:45pm

      @ Peter Dimitrov - As one who closely followed the PNE Hastings Park master plan (that was disapproved by over 50% of the surrounding community, according to the city staff report)
      The the mayor and almost all council ignored the expensive and time consuming public consultation that they themselves conducted and our tax dollars paid for.
      I must note that councilors Cadman, Woodsworth, and Anton questioned the park plan and fought for the community to be heard. These councilors were truly interested in what the community wants. By the way, what the community wants is a park plan that doesn't include an expensive 150,000 sq.ft. convention centre - does your local park have one yet?

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      Dec 19, 2010 at 3:07pm

      what does the economy have to do with parks board cuts? The city collects its revenue from property taxes which get paid regardless of the economy

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      Taxpayers R Us

      Oct 8, 2011 at 9:23pm

      Of course the Park Board accepts its cuts.

      They are Vision Vancouver, and by now, even Gregor Robertson has realized that the bank account for his personal wishes are based on a taxpayer money-well that is going dry.

      It took years to make them see this, while they were spending our money like drunken sailors. Our grand kids will be paying for bike lanes installed 2 years ago.

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      Terry Martin NSV candidate

      Dec 16, 2011 at 12:45am

      The vision team have been showing for some time that they really don't care about the public interest,just thier developer friends,so this is no surprize that they cut parks budgets and tree trimming.They have ignored the commisioned report that would save millions of $ in operating costs by reducing duplication of services as well as other measures.It is much easier for them to just take services away from tax payers.I hope that soon the public will wake up to see who this government really is.

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      Lee L

      Feb 28, 2012 at 9:43am

      “I never in my wildest dreams imagined getting elected and having to face having to make $5 million in cuts over three years, but we find ourselves in recession"
      Recession my &ss. Plenty of money for bike lanes.
      You should have been using your maintenance money to plant wheat.
      THEN you would have funding from Vision Vancouver.
      Haven't you figured that out yet?

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