Mayor Sam Sullivan’s EcoDensity Initiative, launched yesterday at Vancouver City Council, will put even more pressure on already stretched community centres, pools and other Park Board facilities, says COPE Park Commissioner Loretta Woodcock.
“I am appalled to find no mention in the EcoDensity Initiative of how we will improve and increase public amenities such as community centres, pools, playgrounds and playing fields to meet the demands of the kind of denser and more populous communities that are planned for in EcoDensity,” said Woodcock. “We are already under budget pressures to try and keep the existing levels of service.”
Woodcock is concerned that funds earmarked for EcoDensity could be better used to prevent cuts in existing Park Board programs and services.
“Sullivan is spending $800,000 for his EcoDensity campaign; which has so far resulted only in a glossy brochure and consultations mimicking the city’s existing process of community visioning,” said Woodcock. “Meanwhile the Park Board is being asked to reduce it’s operating budget with possible cuts to recreation services, community centre programs and park maintenance across the city. This is a poor prioritization of taxpayer dollars.”
The Park Board is currently entering into preliminary discussions with City Hall on its 2008 operating budget. At a November 05 meeting of the Board’s Finance Committee, Commissioners were told to expect a $800,000 reduction in the Board operating budget for 2008. The Park Board budget is approved by City Council on the recommendation of the Mayor’s Office and the city’s senior management committee.
“It infuriates me that the Mayor is wrapping himself up in EcoDensity and creating little more than a public relations campaign,” said Woodcock. “It appears to be his way of having the taxpayer pay for his election campaign in 2008.”