NPA park commissioner says Vision’s priorities out of whack

Splashing in the fountain atop Queen E Park might be all kids have this summer

In what appears to be an awakening political feistiness, lone NPA park commissioner Ian Robertson wants everyone to know that Vision’s political priorities for parks run against the best interests of the wider city. Citing cuts to children’s summer programs made by the Park Board when millions are redirected at Vision’s bike routes initiatives, Comm. Robertson urges us to sit up and take notice.

"Hundreds of families" are being affected by the loss of popular summer programs, while $25 million has been set aside for a few more kilometres of bike lane improvements, says Robertson. "Full-time summer programs at parks such as Burrardview Park are being cut which means popular children’s and youth programs along with the wading pool are eliminated for the summer," he adds.

As one Burrardview family wrote to the Park Board, “I urge you to advocate for our east Vancouver neighbourhood and reinstate the park program which brings our community together and benefits our most important people of all: our children”.

The Vision Vancouver dominated Park board presided over the largest budget cuts ever without questioning their colleagues on City Council. Now, with the effects of the cuts being felt city-wide, Robertson says Vision Vancouver has their priorities wrong.

“This is going to be a very quiet and troubling summer for many families with young children in Vancouver,” says Robertson. “Vision Vancouver has slashed budgets for valuable summer programs that those families depend on while approving $20,000 plus staff time to ensure homeless chickens are cared for. What kind of vision is that?”

Late last year the Vision Vancouver Park Board caucus voted unanimously to cut $1.9 million from the Park Board budget. $1.3 million of the reduction meant that valuable summer recreation programs that provide activities for children and youth were cut.

“Vision Vancouver has allocated $25 million to bike lanes that less than 4% of the population will use but they cannot find money for summer programs for Vancouver’s kids,” adds Commissioner Robertson. “The funds allocated for homeless chickens would have funded two and a half summer recreation leaders for the summer”.

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  • Jacqueline

    I’m so glad to see this in the media and that Ian Robertson is speaking out. I wish Gregor put as much value on families and children as he does chickens and bike lanes. I’m continually amazed how far down the priority list Vancouver families are being pushed with this city council. It just goes on and on.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought Of The Evening
    “REFLECTION. It’s not only a word meaning an optical phenomenon. It’s also a word missing from the Vision dominated Vancouver Park Board vocabulary. Go figure.”
    While Aaron Jasper @ company were too busy with making amends so their fight against HST could enter the Community Centers… the water in the Trout Lake is unsuitable for swimming, as per the Health Officer’s sign posted on the beach. The area is cordoned; the Life Guard tries to look busy; the kids are looking bored, parents are looking annoyed. But Hey!
    If those Ghostly Vision Commissioners could concentrate more on the HST instead on the job they were elected to do (also see the rest of the Gang: Vancouver Vision Councilors – busy, busy with painting bike lanes, pushing bees, raising backyard chicken, pulling manly goats on the City lawn, and lettuce remembering gardens… or their VSB pals – busy, busy on advocacy and politicizing instead of astute financial management) than, it’s fare to say that’s …fait acompli!
    Slocan Park’s Pavilion is apparently under renovation. Human activity on the ‘item’, or even in the vicinity it’s less than the one observed on the Moon. The crows and the seagulls and the pigeons are happy though. With such a fancy housing they figure it’s good timing for them to raise a flock. If only Rennie Marketing Systems won’t get any ideas on this.
    On the other hand our local ‘feet wiping rug’ VanCourier tells us the story of one brave Vision Commissioner. See, she’s downsizing and donates her lifetime accumulated junk for Charity. How noble! Let’s call it what it is. An Urban Barnes Garage Redemption. Isn’t this the better response to not stepping down after you know…that little incident? Oh my,oh my!
    Where were those Commissioners when the Olympic Hordes took over and basically occupied, walled up, cordoned, some of our community centers disrupting or in some instances interrupting the normal activities and programs for months?
    Killarney Community Centre for example was divided in two. Solid Wall, floor to ceiling. ‘La rivederci’ to 2/3 of the parking. Access through the basement. Bye, bye skating sessions and to the ozone treated pool. How many staff or members were allowed to have a peak at the “winter athletes” in training there? Zero. Zilch. Nada. Were those Vision Commissioners advocating or addressing any of the above inconveniences? Nope. But sure enough now, they can. The guy with the big Fight HST Button and his clipboard could stand in there finally. Wow!
    VISION in VANCOUVER is same as our parks…in DISREPAIR. And this calls for a song.
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • RealityCheck

    Why wouldn’t they shut this down? In a city where we want to build nothing but bachelor and one-bedroom towers, the last thing we want to do is encourage families with children to stay! Burnaby, Surrey and the tri-cities is where our working class serfs should breed.
    We welcome their brief visits to downtown Shinyville, so long as they bicycle in and leave their screaming offspring in their monster home.
    I have more to say, but the community garden needs watering and the chickens need feeding.
    Best wishes (and stay away!),
    Mayor McSmoothie

  • Marcus

    Mayor Robertson on June 24th 2009 spoke of the need to invest in recreation, of providing alternatives for youth and taking tangible steps to tackle the issues of gangs.
    Since then Vision Vancouver has conducted the largest ever series of cuts in recreation. Cuts, with a strategy, are not wrong but nothing tangible has been offered to support recreation in providing alternatives to youth gangs, violence or drugs. Nothing.
    A report on coordinating civic youth services has disappeared. The Active Living program to encourage children, youth and families to be active – cut.
    Support for ongoing youth prevention & recreation programming is not a priority of Vision Vancouver. It’s sad as many felt this council and commissioners would actually understand that cost – benefit of prevention and the power of recreation to positively impact children youth and families.
    Apparently not.

  • Dave

    I was at the meeting when the parents from the Burrardview area made their presentation.
    What I found most interesting was the platitudes that the chair and staff uttered to them. Nary a word from any other Vision members and utter silence from the likes of Hundal and Barnes.
    The fact is that the parents offered a couple of reasonable alternatives to provide at least some part time programs at their park.
    Of course this would that would have taken a bit of flexibility and rethinking on the part of the Board and Staff and it was readily apparent that none would be forthcoming.
    Instead the “NOPE can’t be done, it’s too late, we are unable to move things around” ‘tude that is typical of this gang and their Staff cohorts.
    What was readily apparent Vision’s short sighted political priorities take precedence over neighbourhoods and children.
    Visionless Vancouver strikes again.
    Bike lanes – A ok,
    Chickens – A ok,
    Bees at City Hall – A ok,
    Community gardens – A Ok….
    payback to freinds and insiders – A Ok
    Community Centres being Crippled – Done
    Screwing over kids and parents- Done
    Screwing over Communities – Done
    Priortizing self serving political agenda over common sense and common good – Done
    Look good while continually screwing over the people of Vancouver – PRICELESS

  • Trish

    Dave, your comment is a must read by every voter in Vancouver. You hit the nail on the head with your assessment of this bunch of bozos. The election can’t come soon enough.

  • Kate

    New $300,000 skateboard park. Would that fall under friends and insiders, or Youth?

  • Dave

    perhaps you can check which budget and capital cycle that was approved under (see below from VPB minutes).
    Board members received copies of a staff report dated April 14, 2009
    recommending that the Board approve the development of a neighbourhood-oriented
    skateboard facility in Kensington Park, at an approximate cost of $300,000 from the
    2006-2008 Capital Plan allocation for “sport courts/active uses” – Youth Parks.
    Not hard NOT to approve something that had already been approved by Vancouver Voters.
    So it was actually the work of the previous NPA board that made this happen.
    OOO OUCH reality is a biatch eh!

  • Jamie P

    Read the comments bellow, that’s exactly what Glissando said in his comment: “If those Ghostly Vision Commissioners could concentrate more on the HST instead on the job they were elected to do (also see the rest of the Gang: Vancouver Vision Councilors – busy, busy with painting bike lanes, pushing bees, raising backyard chicken, pulling manly goats on the City lawn, and lettuce remembering gardens… or their VSB pals – busy, busy on advocacy and politicizing instead of astute financial management) than, it’s fare to say that’s …fait acompli!”, only in a funnier way.
    Dave enforced that. It seems there are already five of us that think the same (including Kate and Marcus) Cheers!
    BTW, have you seen yesterday’s pathetic display of bikers on the virginal Dunsmuir bike lane? All sixteen of them including the mayor. Apparently a maroon PT Cruiser tried out the bike lane just before the opening. LOL

  • Bill McCreery

    Trish is right. I heard the comments of the Burrard View parents, as well as the tiny request from some Grandview parents to recycle for a while the existing play equipment. NO & more NO.
    But, Vision has their Wo Wo agenda. We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg so far: ‘Bike lanes, Chickens, Bees at City Hall, Community gardens, payback to freinds and insiders’. What’s next?
    Guess how they’re financing this nonsense? They’ve re-discovered Socred funny money. Vision funny money is created, poof! by abusing a once judiciously used beneficial LIFT programme whereby the City shares with the developer the increased value from up-zoning land. Vision is entertaining spot re-zoning proposals from developers which are +150% to 200% more than the existing allowable density &, this is a misuse & abuse of this important programme. It puts the City in a conflict of interest position in that they are simultaneously the approving authority & the beneficiary in these situations. If this programme is used judiciously well & good but, if abused it is not acceptable. What Vision is doing is unethical & may be illegal as well.

  • Tessa

    Please get your facts right. As long-time city watchers the writer of this article should be aware that capital and operational budgets are not the same, that money was not diverted from operational programs to capital to improve bike lanes, and that by law they can’t be using capital funds to pay for operational costs.
    While I was dismayed by the cuts this last budget, this article appears designed to purposefully or neglectfully mislead people by linking two initiatives that have nothing to do with one another.

  • Jamie P

    Again,well said Dave. Strike ‘Kate’ out of my previous comment. It turns out we are four that thin the same. Mea Colpa. Cheers

  • dave

    you are correct
    but lets not forget it’s the Vision Councillors, School Board and Park Board members and apologists who seem to be more concerned with engaging in the 3 card Monty philosophy of nothing to see here ……….
    “look here… shinyyyyyyyyyy”

  • For a list of parks that have had their summer program cut this year see my blog entry from May 21:

  • SB

    Just for clarification the money for Skateparks/BMX/Youth parks was put in the capital budget when COPE/Vision was elected.

  • Marcus

    Kate $300 000 for a structure is easy. A one time cost with great photo ops. Youth, however, do not develop relationships with buildings but with staff which are an ongoing cost which is neither sexy nor a photo op.

  • Bill McCreery

    Tessa, Yes there are limits to using capital funds for operating but, it depends where the capital comes from: annual capital appropriations or voter approved capital improvements. There is more flexibility in the former. Annual appropriations can be adjusted but, is resisted by staff typically.
    But, don’t forget, Vision are responsible for this 2010 budget. They put the $25M over 2 years in there with no plan & they still don’t have a plan. Have you seen it? Where, how, why & when are they going to spend this money? If you’re approving expenditures of $25M of voters money, shouldn’t they be told something definitive?
    I can see this thing skyrocketing out of control. The good news is Burrard & Dunsmuir are temporary. The bad news: they’re temporary because they’re going to have to be dug up & done again a couple of more times until they, hopefully, get it right. Meanwhile businesses are going bankrupt, drivers are being ticketed for trying to get between point A & B without wasting fuel & the Trotsky mantra of ‘create chaos & take control’ fuels the ‘class’ war, dividing the population rather than bring us together.

  • Breakdown of $25 millIion:
    Table 4 (Page 21) I totalled up the items, I get $24.71 million, so ~$25 million, so I assume this table is the breakdown

  • GL

    SB, that’s a crock. The capital plan and monies for BMX and Skate Parks was put in the capital plan by the previous NPA Park Board. The voters approved the capital plan when they went to the polls to vote! Here we go again – VV taking credit for something that the previous Board had accomplished.