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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
Vancouver Park Board

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