I’m continuing to hear complaints and suspicions grow about Vancouver’s draconian budget-cutting process, which started out with people feeling like “okay, it’s a recession, we need to bit the bullet” and is morphing into “why is it only Vancouver that seems to be going through a budget cataclysm while other municipalities are managing to pass budgets that don’t entail cutting significant programs.”
Emails coming from inside city hall and posts to this blog are questioning the Big Crisis and I hear increasing suggestions about things that could be looked at but aren’t.
ThinkCity, which some see as the policy arm of Vision but isn’t necessarily, is spearheading a campaign to get people out to oppose budget cuts. The Green’s Stuart Mackinnon at park board is doing the same. (His blog post on this here.) And now Suzanne Anton and the NPA are officially jumping on the bandwagon. (Their news release of a few moments ago attached below here.)
Cynical observers are wondering whether this groundswell will prompt Vision to do what they were planning all along — relent at the last moment and “save” a few key programs. Or whether they’ll go through with it all to prove to people outside their base that they have what it takes to be tough leaders in a budget crisis — something that could work for them down the line in another political arena, nudge nudge wink wink.
I have no idea. All I know is that it’s all feeling very strange to me, as though something is off kilter.
The NPA news release, as promised.
MAYOR & Council Ignore People & Options in Rush to Cut
Proposed budget cuts cavalier and short sighted
Vancouver, BC—Vancouver City Councillor Suzanne Anton says Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver Councillors are ignoring concerned citizens and creative solutions in their rush to cut $20 million from the City’s 2010 operating budget. Councillor Anton is calling for people to speak up on the proposed cuts today and at a public meeting on Thursday.
The Vision Vancouver dominated Council led by Mayor Robertson is planning to cut:
Community Centre programs,
close the Bloedel Conservatory,
close the Stanley Park petting zoo.
Anton says the cuts come with almost no public notice. “These decisions were made in secret by the Mayor and his team. The public has had no real chance to respond,” says Anton. “The proposed cuts are cavalier and short sighted.”
Anton is particularly concerned about the Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park and the Stanley Park Petting Zoo. “The decisions to close these two Vancouver icons were made without any consideration of their importance to the community,” says Anton. “There have even been offers from concerned citizens to step in with funds—they were ignored.”
Vancouver City Council will hear a budget update from staff on Tuesday December 1 at 2:00 pm. Councillor Anton is urging citizens to call City Hall at 311 and tell the Mayor and Councillors what they think of the cuts. People should also ask to be put on the speakers list for the public meeting on the budget on Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 pm.
If they cannot make the public hearing, Anton says concerned citizens can leave a message for the Mayor and Councillors through 311 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org .