How Do You Spell “Flip Flop”?

Okay, okay I couldn’t resist but in an amazing turn of events it looks like my colleagues “across the table” are re-considering their decision to permanently close the Bloedel Conservatory and Children’s Farmyard in Stanley Park.

On Tuesday December 8th Park Board Commissioner Aaron Japser issued the following press release…

Media Release
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Vision Park Commissioners Invite “Expressions of Interest” to Keep Attractions Open

At the upcoming Park Board meeting on December 14, Vision Vancouver Park Commissioners will move two motions requesting the public bring forward their suggestions on how to operate the Bloedel Conservatory and the Children’s Farmyard in Stanley Park.

“We don’t want to close any doors,” said Park Board Commissioner Aaron Jasper. “We want to find a way to allow those most passionate about the Conservatory and Farmyard to get involved and help save the attractions they love.”

Despite an overall budget increase of $4.2 million, the Park Board is currently facing a serious budget shortfall of $2.8 million. As part of its 2010 budget process, the Board initiated a Core Services Review to better align its services with the Park Board’s mandate. It was determined that neither attraction was a core service.

The cost to subsidize these two facilities is equivalent to running one community centre. Neither attraction has been a priority for previous boards. The Bloedel Conservatory, in particular, has been left to deteriorate for years and would cost millions of dollars to repair and upgrade.

At a recent board meeting, the Vancouver Park Board voted to close both attractions in order to balance the budget. These new motions are aimed at exploring all options to upgrade and operate the facilities without using taxpayer money.

“Right now our priority is to fund our core programs and services,” said Commissioner Jasper. “But we also want to make absolutely certain we’re exploring all possible avenues with respect to these attractions. We are hopeful innovative and creative proposals will come forward and allow the Bloedel Conservatory and Children’s Farmyard to remain open.”

Hmmm, sounds very familiar to the amendment I put forward on November 25th that called for staff “to seek alternate alternate funding solutions for the Bloedel Conservatory and Children’s Farmyard and report back to the Board within 60 days.”  This amendment was rejected by my Vision colleagues.

Politics aside it looks like efforts to keep both the Bloedel Conservatory and Children’s Farmayard open have new life and this is very, very good news.

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