Independence of the Park Board at Stake

As some of you may know the Park Board is in the process of recruiting a new General Manager to replace Susan Mundick who chose to take early retirement after 11 successful years.  What you probably don’t know is the job description approved by a majority of Park Board Commissioners now has the General Manager reporting directly to the Board and the City Manager.  Talk about a recipe for disaster.

Since this decision was taken I have spoken to a number of human resource experts and all of them unanimously have stated that the position is set up for failure with this type of reporting structure.

On Monday March 22 I tried to change that by introducing a motion that would direct Council to delegate authority to the Park Board “to be solely responsible to oversee the recruitment, selection, delegation of work-related tasks, and performance management for the General Manager of the Park Board in accordance with the established employment policies of the City of Vancouver.”  Not surprisingly the motion was defeated.

Vancouver, we have a problem here.

The Park Board was created under the city charter over 100 years ago to preserve, advocate and protect Vancouver’s parks.  It’s no coincidence that Vancouver is admired around the globe for it’s world-class parks and recreation infrastructure and the fact we have an elected Board of Commissioners.  The Commissioners are accountable to the citizens of Vancouver and nobody else.  What I have witnessed for the past 17 months under Vision’s watch is a slow death of the independence of the Park Board. First it was no push-back to Council on the $1.8 million cut to the Park Board budget.  A cut that has led to the closure of the Bloedel Conservatory and the Children’s Farmyard – two venerable Vancouver institutions.  And now it’s letting the City Manager have a say on what the Park Board General Manager does.  Think about it…the Board could vote to defer an increase in fees and the City Manager can over-rule the decision.

Veteran Park Board watcher and writer for the Vancouver Courier, Sandra Thomas sums it up well in her article here.

Well clearly the Vision Park Board caucus is pissed with me because I am not a part of the short-list committee that will select a new GM.  Despite me having more experience in recruiting, selecting and hiring senior managers than the four who were selected…combined!  So much for Gregor’s inaugural speech about reaching across the political table and being inclusive.  Am I bitter?  Not on your life.  Spring is in the air and I think I’ll get out and savour the season.

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