Zlotnik called Marty Antoinette

Families wanting access to cheap concession food at English Bay beach had better bring a picnic, according to Non-Partisan Association Comm. Marty Zlotnik.

And they should not expect an easy ride from the park board, which voted on January 15 to award a $59,000 contract for architectural services to develop a new bistro some believe will bar access to lower-income residents.

Zlotnik recently told a local newspaper that people with no money should “head across the street to McDonald’s” for inexpensive food. At the January 29 park board meeting at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Zlotnik told the Straight he was not shilling for Ronald.

“No, I’m not, but we’re not in the business of providing cheap food,” Zlotnik said. “There’s a difference. Good food costs money. Cheap food doesn’t cost money. If you want a decent meal, there’s a price associated with a decent meal, even for kids.”

Zlotnik said no designs are before the board yet for the planned bistro, adding: “What we’ve got right now is not very nice.”

Will families be able to afford a potentially privatized new facility?

“It’s got nothing to do with families,” Zlotnik said. “If families really want to afford to go to the beach, they should take a picnic in a basket. They shouldn’t be buying our French fries.”

Coalition of Progressive Electors Comm. Spencer Herbert, known for his arts background, was not impressed.

“I say Comm. Zlotnik is ”˜Marty Antoinette’, telling people without a lot of money, ”˜Go eat McDonald’s,’ not cake,” Herbert told the Straight by phone.

Herbert was referring to Archduchess of Austria (later Queen of France and Navarre) Marie Antoinette’s high-and-mighty treatment of the masses and her apocryphal entreaty to let them eat cake.

“I’m not in the business of creating a wider divide between rich and poor, and I don’t think we should be doing that as a public body,” Herbert said. “It’s disturbing what his comments entail. Why is he even on parks board? He should just join the board of a country club.”

West End Residents Association director Aaron Jasper spoke against the proposed bistro at the January 15 meeting, adding that WERA had no prior notice of the board’s plan to seek proposals at English Bay without more public consultation.

“I think Marty should be on McDonald’s Christmas list,” Jasper told the Straight. “But in terms of what he says about, ”˜It’s not our business to provide inexpensive food and subsidize the public here,’ I disagree.”

Jasper said he grew up in a modest household in North Delta—he lived in a Comox Street apartment as a small child—and said he values access to public amenities and park space. He said the board is known for providing a “level playing field” through its golf courses, community centres, and parks.

“We do subsidize,” he said. “So a recent immigrant, a senior, and someone on a fixed income can still enjoy the quality of life. What he [Zlotnik] says is contrary to the tradition of the park board.”

On May 1, 2006, Zlotnik and fellow NPA commissioners Heather Holden, Allan De Genova (now independent), and Korina Houghton voted in favour of a concession-strategy study that included the development of a new bistro to replace the existing English Bay concession.

Herbert was against, citing concerns over the “McDonaldization” of parkland. Following Zlotnik’s directive, he said that has evolved to the park-boardization of McDonald’s.