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And park board chair defends decisions

December 3rd, 2009 · 18 Comments

Not sure I’m going to be able to keep up endlessly with all the back and forth here, as various people and groups move into high gear on budget debates. But here is a message just out from park-board chair Raj Hundal.

Last Wednesday night, Vancouver Park Board voted to pass the 2010 Operating Budget. It was an emotional night for many people. Over thirty speakers jammed the hall and many took the opportunity to speak to the board about what their priorities were.
We listened. At the end of the evening, we were able to save the Sunset Nursery, but voted to approve the rest of the 2010 Operating Budget.
It was a difficult decision that was not made lightly.
It’s a challenging time to be in government. The economic downturn has left the city with the challenge of balancing a $61.7 million shortfall for the coming fiscal year.
Every department of the city is feeling the pain right now. Park Board is no different.
We must come up with $2.8 million to balance our budget while at the same time maintaining our core services so our community centers aren’t closed, our community programs remain consistent, our parks are maintained, our pools stay open and our lifeguards remain on the beaches in the summer.
Many people believe we should keep the Bloedel Conservatory and the Stanley Park Farm open. But neither of these attractions falls under the category of core services. To maintain them would be too expensive.
Indeed, the Bloedel Conservatory in particular is in such disrepair that it would cost over $2 million to repair the facility and bring it up to spec. This high cost coupled with its long term inability to generate revenue makes it a luxury we cannot afford in these troubled economic times.
While these cuts are difficult to make, they are necessary. I’m proud of our record and stand with city hall in their decision to not balance the budget solely on the backs of city taxpayers.

Raj Hundal
Chair
Vancouver Park Board

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Joe Just Joe

    The Conservatory could be reroofed with money that is about to start coming in from DCLS and CACs from Little Moutain. Trim the trees back further and provide bus drivers with free lunch and the tourbuses will flock back into the park providing client. Had an old friend that drove tourbuses for 30yrs, he stated that anyplace that provided the drivers with free food would find themselves with dozens of other paying customers.

    The Petting zoo should probably be shut down, although I’d love to see it moved into Hastings Park, the Park needs something to attract more people year round. As a bonus the Parks board wouldn’t need to set up a second petting zoo during the fair, that would save a few bucks.

  • Stuart Mackinnon (Green Party Park Commissioner)

    Although the Sunset Nursery was “saved” (it actually wasn’t ever in danger of being closed, just doing less work) a significant amount of the work they do is for the Bloedel Conservatory. That work will of course be lost and so there will inevitably be cut backs at the nursery.

  • I know for a fact that a private donor offered to pay the costs necessary to maintain the McMillan Bloedell Conservatory with no strings attached. Unfortunately, the offer was rejected out of hand by Raymond Louie because they approached Ian Robertson with the offer, not Mr. Louie.

    If true, as reported in the papers, the partisanship is starting to get a bit childish. All good ideas should be welcome when it comes to preserving our city’s long-cherished parks, rec and community centres.

  • Hoarse Whisperer

    It’s all about ammenities folks. And the “human scale” they bring to our fair city.

    You can’t hug a condo.

  • Bill Lee

    You can hug a condo, but you will get chilblains.

    If the Parks Board does right by the East Side and goes after what they have advocated for years, all buildings down, reforested a la UBC and “Spirit Park,” I would encourage a few mountain lions with the the salmonella spreading “petting zoo” to eat small errant children and the hundreds of coyotes migrating west from The Burnaby Montclair park line. A few deer for hunting would fill up local freezers. Already Rio Meats is selling elk.

    As for the PNE, they have instituted a far, far more extensive No Parking signage in the past week, 3 months before the Olympics for 2 km around the PNE, whereas it used to be a few blocks on either sides.
    Folks, no one is coming. There will not be throngs, nor parking problems. The Olympics will be giving tickets to the athletes to fill in the stands for the benefit of the cameras.
    Look at the non-crowds for the recent ice-dancing tryouts at the Coliseium.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of the Day

    “Vancouver Vision caucus share in politics the same cleverness and values the Mayor engaged in business. Squeezing out expensive juice, with other people’s money and enjoying it with friends.”

    That’s all, folks!

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • spartikus

    Mr Bickerton,

    You start your first paragraph with I know for a fact… and start your second with “If true…”.

    You either know for a fact or you don’t. Which is it?

  • rf

    Does anyone actually like Raymond Louie?

    Could he come off like any more of a petty self-absorbed weasel?

  • Hoarse Whisperer

    rf,

    In answer to your question, the answer is “no”.

    His public personna sucks, which is why he will fit so well into the federal Liberal party fold, should he decide to take a run at national politics.

    I’ve talked to him at events, and when he isn’t in front of a crowd, the guy can be pretty affable. He is a product of his environment I guess. That take no prisoners attitude. Too bad, because I think he could do better by taking a less strident/more populist (at least in public) tone, and not dismiss “the other” out of hand. Loosen up– at least tuck your chin in, fer Gawd’s sakes, Ray!

    I am going to go early for my workout because I hear there’s a great MMA match-up at City Hall tonight: Council vs. Citizens re: Bloedel and the petting zoo.

    Let’s see who taps out first…

  • Paul

    Currently awaiting Super-Council to swoop down and “Save” us from some of these high-profile cuts. Why else would they ditch high-profile attractions close to people’s hearts?

    Take the Petting Zoo from the kidlets and the Conservatory from the aging locals then throw in grafitti removal and we have a triple-play. It will make a 5% tax increase all that much more easy to swallow, right?

    That’s my call on this strategy. It’s a set-up.

    Step away, private sector! Here comes Mayor Ken in a cape and tights, Ray-Lou as Yoda (natch), with Dr. Penny as Wonderwoman in the background.

    Dunh-duh-duhhhhhhhhh!!!!

  • Otis Krayola

    @rf,

    I’ve met his wife, and she likes him. At least, sometimes.

    Also, he’s pretty big on himself.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Medieval Thought of the Day
    “Day in, day out, it feels more and more like living in the 13th Century. I don’t know about you, but I am at an impasse. Should I go into archery? Should I register my kids in falconry classes? Would hunting be a good career choice for me, should I start buying frog skin, you know for future barter?”

    Our modern landlords like Raj here, made sure that the year 2009 felt just like one year out of the Middle Ages. Read and compare aThen meeting with any of Today’s meetings (transcripts free on http://www.vancouver.ca)

    Following Excerpt from “The Legend of Robbing the Hood” might clear some queries; so, go chew the fat!
    TheYear:1210AD The Setting: City Hall Castle, Throne Chambers. The Deed: Working feast; buffet, eat all you can grab or kill… The Background: Stanleywood Forest in Nothingforsure The Court: Maid Reimer and the other Ladies in Waiting, seated, looking good, feeling good, giggling; in one corner, the friendly Louie the Court Jester is playing with a goat. Rough. Also present, Hollyhock guests, Union vassals, assorted athletic knights with rings, warlords, and of course the “bloody, lazy” local peasants, hat in hands, to be pardoned “for the fun of it” during the feast. Tim the Master painter is quietly penciling as His Worship is nursing a free run turkey drumstick.
    After a long regal belch, His Lordship boringly looking at the first group of peasants :“Ay, thus leeches, never haveth enough of me kindness“ waves a hand at the group of menestrels headed by Kerry the Rebec and invites them to play something to go with his appetite. David the Squire pours worryingly another of them grapes elixir into His Worship’s goblet; meanwhile Lytil Brother Meggs bows nobly and starts playing the lute in sotto voce:
    “Robbing the Hode een Scherewode stod,
    While shadowy skies, pouring like a bitch,
    His thoughts, mischievous, weeakh and ohodd,
    Grab from the poor, bestow to the rich.
    Grahahaab from the phuuuuer,
    Beheestow to the Reeech!
    La ra la, la la la, la la la la, la ra la …”

    Lady Heather, graciously moving in her corseted green velvety dress, coordinated with a turquoise cape, directs the flow of peasants in front of His Worship. “Cmmon’ you buggers, put down them roosters, bow and skedaddle to the right of center, you ne’er-do-well pebbles”
    The peasants retire orderly through the Misery wing of the Castle, humming in chorus the Cuckoo song:

    “Sumer is icumen in,
    Lhude, sing cuccu!
    Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
    And springth the wude nu!”

    As they exit, George the Taxman is collecting the MHT (Medieval Heraldic Tithe) while
    another tray of deep fried suckling pig balls is served at room temperature, more Cold “Budgetwurst” Cuts to come. Boar’s heads, venison, peacocks, swans, cranes, plovers, and larks…
    More whine and ballads…
    What else to expect, 1210AD, eh? Do you see what I mean?

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Hoarse Whisperer

    Glissando,

    Whatever you are ingesting…please send some of it to me.

    Very colourful and imaginative piece.

  • George

    Glissando,

    I agree with Hoarse Whisperer… thanks for a good read, very funny.

  • J R Wares

    Before Vancouver Parks Board commissioners pat themselves on the back too vigorously, I’d like to examine their devious approach to mishandling our tax dollars.

    Governments have no money of their own. Our tax dollars and user fees are the source of all government funds.

    VPB’s lack of credibility and transparency is obvious in that while awaiting a federal payout of $2 million of our tax dollars, described in council minutes as stimulus funds dedicated to recreation infrastructure, VPB decided to shut down two established popular recreational venues while building brand new artificial turf soccer fields.

    The Parks Board’s budget shortfall ($2.8million) is approximately equal to the cost of building one synthetic turf field. At the same time, the cost of replacing the roof of the MacBlo Planetarium is estimated to be less than the cost of constructing a synthetic turf field.

    One such proposed artificial turf site on the west side is located a few blocks from another such field that was constructed just four years ago. At least one city councillor promotes the use of federal tax funds for construction of an additional artificial turf playing field.

    My point is that no matter which government body makes the funds available the money comes from taxpayers’ pockets. The lack of transparency in this matter may be due to the lack of knowledge and comprehension so apparently lacking in the current gang of VPB commissioners and city councillors.

    Perhaps it is time to promote the election of Conservative MP’s to keep a watchful eye on municipal politics.

  • Hi Spartakus, I know for a fact that the offer was made and taken by Ian Robertson to the Park Board meeting. I also know for a fact it was rejected. If Raymond Louie was quoted correctly n the news, he said the offer was rejected because they went to the wrong person, that they should have approached him.

    If that’s true, the partisanship is getting out of hand and ideology is trumping common sense and compassion.

  • gasp

    To Sean Bickerton:

    Common sense and compassion left Vancouver City Hall many years ago.

    Before you took up residence in this City, we had a Mayor who dismissed calls for any investigation into the women who went missing on the Downtown Eastside – the same women who a few years later had their DNA turn up on Willie Pickton’s pig farm. Yet at the same time he was frantically calling on the police to investigate a series of arsons on the west side. I wonder where his campaign dollars came from.

    The simple fact is that Vancouver City Hall – City Council and staff alike aren’t there to serve the public or even to listen to them. They believe their role is to dictate to the public what they expect the public to think and to do and we, the public, are there to accept their dictates.

    The people who turn up to speak at public hearings are the peasants who are tolerated or, as Peter Ladner once said, considered to be “the usual rent-a-crowd”. They don’t count because they don’t generally donate to municipal election campaigns.

    We have not had a City Council who actually listened to the public in many years and, based on the group voting and “caucus” system that’s evolved over the past 6-10 years, it’s unlikely we’ll ever have another one unless the “party” system and influence of big money come to an end.

  • Raj should be embarrassed to have “penned” such a ridiculous statement.

    He and his Vision caucus met with the Vision hierarchs, when they received marching orders. prior to the vote.

    How does this jive with the autonomy he was moaning about when Susan Mundick was unceremoniously bounced?

    Hundal is rapidly becoming a walking political train-wreck.

    BTW, how’s your cousin Raj? No follow up to your principled decision to step down? How ’bout returning some phones calls to various members of the media still interested. There’s quite a few…

    Oh well, just wait for Mike Magee to get back to you about what to do…I’m sure you’ll then get back to us with another brilliant press release, and a blind defense by the wing-nut propaganda in the blogodome, and so on and so forth….

    Predictable and pathetic.