COPE Park Commissioner Loretta Woodcock is demanding that the Park Board put off voting on a staff proposal that would cut senior’s discounts, and charge pre-schoolers for swimming, skating and other park programs. Woodcock says it is up to the newly elected Board after November 15 to make this decision.
If the current Park Board approves the staff recommendations, toddlers will have to pay for park programs as the “pre-school definition (would) change from 5 years and under, to 2 years and under. ” Another recommendation would lower the definition of “child” from the current “6 to 12 years inclusive, to 3 to 12 years inclusive,” thus hiking fees for pre-schoolers. The report also recommends cutting the seniors discount from 30% to 25%.
“On November 15 the people of Vancouver will elect a new park board,” said Woodcock. “So it is completely unacceptable for the old board to be making as fundamental a decision as cutting discounts and charging toddlers. And how can we expect the public to comment on this in the middle of an election, with no advertising or notice, and with only 10-days notice. ”
Staff want the proposed 2009 fees and charges to be approved by the Board at its November 24 meeting so that changes can be implemented for 2009. The public have until November 07 to comment on the proposed fee changes in an online survey on the Park Board website.
Rather than raise fees, COPE park board candidate Anita Romaniuk wants to maintain the current seniors discounts. She also wants to raise the youth discount by five percent. Providing youth with a further discount would cost the Park Board less than $12,000, within a $90 million budget.
“With families and seniors facing financial uncertainties, this isn’t the time to be cutting discounts, and extracting money from toddlers.” said Romaniuk. “We should not be setting different age groups against each other. We need to encourage seniors, youth and young families to enjoy healthy activities at our recreation centres.”
Woodcock is notifying NPA Park Board chair Korina Houghton that she will be submitting a motion to defer any decisions on fees to the newly elected board. New park commissioners will be sworn into office on December 01.
To see the proposed fee changes and fill out the public survey go to: www.vancouverparks.ca.