Vancouver COPE Park Commissioner Loretta Woodcock wants Vancouver City Council to direct $3.4 million of the $11.8 million the City saved during last years labour disruption to the Park Board. The money would help pay off an $18.4 million loan for the Olympic facilities at Hillcrest Park. $3.4 million represents the Park Board’s portion of the City’s strike savings.
Woodcock says skyrocketing construction costs for the Hillcrest site forced the Park Board to approve borrowing the money from the City. Now she wants the $3.4 million to help pay down the loan, so the Board can continue to deliver programs to seniors and youth, and keep up park and beach maintenance.
"All residents of Vancouver suffer if the Park Board has to cut community centre programs or park maintenance," said Woodcock. "This could happen because the Park Board approved taking out a loan with the City in order to pay for skyrocketing construction costs for the Olympic Legacies Facilities at Hillcrest Park."
Money to repay the City loan will come out of the Board’s operating budget beginning in 2010. The operating budget pays for programs at 23 community centres, as well as public pools and ice rinks, park rangers, and maintenance of the park system including grass mowing, garbage pickup, upkeep of playing fields and tree restoration.
"I will be putting forward a motion at the February 11 meeting of the Park Board to ask the City to apportion $3.4 million of strike savings to pay down the $18.4 million loan," said Woodcock. "It makes sense to do this so that the Park Board not only saves money in interest costs, but it also frees up maintenance dollars that can go to upkeep of our park system. In reducing our loan payment, the Park Board can also increase services to the public."
"I hope the NPA park commissioners see the wisdom of asking the City to consider allocating $3.4 of total strike savings to ensure the Park Board can not only maintain, but expand services."
A report going before Vancouver City Council outlines a plan to rebate Vancouver residential and business owners $11.8 million in strike tax savings. The owner of a $700,000 house will receive a $40 break on their 2008 taxes, while a similarly valued business will save $220.