maybe Tuesdays rally will have some positive effect!!
Vancouver budget cuts draw opposition
Some Vancouver residents protested outside city hall before a public hearing Thursday on coming budget cuts. (CBC)Vancouver residents upset about plans to cut some services jammed a public meeting held by Vancouver city council Thursday evening.
Council members told the crowd, which filled the council chamber to capacity, that they need to find ways to cut another $28 million from the 2010 budget because of declines in city revenue.
City managers made already announced plans to eliminate 60 full-time jobs and streamline or reduce many services to cut about $33 million from an expected total budget shortfall of $61 million. This left council with the task of eliminating the remaining $28-million overhang from the $1-billion annual budget.
But many at the meeting demanded that more money be allocated to libraries, community centres and other facilities, to enable them to be open more often.
Bessie Weislow pleaded with council not to cut funding for her local community centre.
'If you're going to save everything, we're going to have one huge tax increase.'
—Coun. Tim Stevenson"I'm 97 years old and the centre is my lifeline," said Weislow.
Others made $5 donations in an effort to save the Bloedel Floral Conservatory, which the park board has already voted to shut as part of the cuts.
Zahara Brown, 11, asked councillors to save the Stanley Park Children's Farmyard, a popular petting zoo which is also being closed.
"It's very important to those kids … that live in a co-op or an apartment and are not allowed to have pets," said Brown.
Even city staffers turned up to ask for more time or more money to avoid closures, including Ashley Sorenson, who works at the farmyard.
"How can you say no to … letting us stay open just one more year to prove what we can do in terms of improving revenue and reducing costs and staff hours and giving these animals a safe home?" said Sorenson.
'Save them all'
Park board commissioner Stuart MacKinnon, who opposed the cuts, also demanded that council save the facilities.
"You will hear tonight many people asking you to save this or that particular service or amenity. I'm asking you to save them all," said MacKinnon.
That brought a direct response from Coun. Tim Stevenson, who told the crowd a budget with none of the proposed cuts would mean a property tax hike of up to 11 per cent.
"If you're going to save everything, we're going to have one huge tax increase; we can't do it," he said.
Councillors say the cuts are necessary because of declining revenue from building permits and taxes, brought on by the slack economy.
By the end of the night only about 12 of 90 speakers on the list got a chance to speak. The rest must wait until the next public hearing next Wednesday.
Council will vote on the final 2010 budget on Dec. 18.