Vancouver Park Board votes to close landmarks
Published Thursday, November 26, 2009 6:37PM PST
Two Vancouver landmarks will be shut down to deal with a Vancouver Park Board budget shortfall in excess of $2 million.
The board voted 4-3 in favour of shutting down the children's farmyard at Stanley Park and the Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park at a packed meeting Monday night. Members say it's the only way to curb the financial hemorrhage. The board is losing an average of $240,000 a year.
The farmyard won't be closed until homes can be found for the animals, the board said. Eleven people will lose their jobs.
Staff will also look into options for birds and plants at the conservatory, which will close March 1.
Board member Aaron Jasper said it wasn't easy to make the cuts.
"We didn't make these decisions easily," he said. "[We're] torn about choices we had to make."
Commissioner Ian Robertson voted against the cuts, saying they weren't given enough time.
"I'm very disappointed. Really the public's only had 2 weeks to provide feedback on what they thought."
The board did vote to spare the Sunset Nursery from the chopping block. The nursery provides plants for a number of city parks.
Jasper said sparing the nursery leaves the door open for a private operator to come in.
Meanwhile, trustees with the Vancouver Public Library, which is facing a $1.3 million budget shortfall, voted to reduce operating hours at up to 14 branches, as well as reduce staffing, collections and administrative budgets.
Trustees also signaled that the Riley Park branch could close in January, 18 months earlier than scheduled.
Both budget decisions now go to city council. The first chance the public will have to address council will be Dec. 3.
With reports from CTV British Columbia's Renu Bakshi and Maria Weisgarber