End of the Road for the Conservatory and Farmyard?

On Nov 25 my four Vision Vancouver Park Commissioner colleagues voted to accept the reduction of $2.8 million to the park board’s budget.  Myself along with Commissioners Stuart Mackinnon and Loretta Woodcock voted against the cuts.  I did not support the motion as the park board is being unfairly targeted – the park board is being asked to cut its budget the most in terms of percentage of its budget than any other city department.  I understand we are in tough economic times and we all have to contribute, but let’s be fair and equitable.

Since the vote I have received more e-mails and phone calls than I did when I was Chair of the Park Board during the Stanley Park storms.  Understandably people are angry and upset that two iconic attractions in the city will be closing.  What is even more frustrating is that an amendment I put forward directing staff to “find alternate funding and operating model solutions in 60 days” was rejected by the Board.  I raised the amendment because I know there are people and groups out there that would have come together to raise funds towards operating the Conservatory and Farmyard.  A generous individual called me and committed $100,000 over the next 4 years towards operating the Farmyard.

The best excuse (scroll down to comment posted by S.Blyth) Vision Vancouver can come up with is to point fingers at previous park boards for letting the Conservatory deteriorate.  Let’s be accurate here…the Conservatory was never brought to any previous Baords’ attention and was just flagged to this board one year ago.  There is no doubt in my mind that the Conservatory would have been added to the list in the next capital plan to receive consideration for funding to improve and renovate the structure.

The fight is not over.  Here’s what you can do:

Send an e-mail to mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca and demand that the Conservatory and Farmyard be given a chance to come up with funding and operating model solutions.

Second, attend a press conference that my colleague Stuart Mackinnon is organizing on the steps of city hall on Dec 3 at 6:00pm.  I would be there to voice my support however business travel will prevent me from attending.

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