Some of the recommendations in the City of Windsor’s Rediscover Parks, its current planning document, suggest administration is working to have a city with less parks and to restrict park admission to those who can pay.
Diligent taxpayers might be proven wrong if they believe their taxes pay to maintain the city’s parks system. In fact, it could soon be up to them to do the work of the hired hands.
Without question, this document needs to be scrutinized in considerable detail.
It is crammed with red flags starting with startling recommendation 2.01 which calls for Adopt-a-Park programs. Community organizations are encouraged to take over park maintenance which the administrators would like you to believe is critical for the longevity of the parks system.
It is little more than a reduce work project. It is a deceitful plan for the city to abdicate its caretaker role with individuals or groups toiling in the hot summer sun to maintain their adopted parks.
The concept is further reinforced with recommendation 2.02. It encourages, “… support for volunteer efforts in park stewardship and outdoor recreation activities such as; park restoration and renewal opportunities.”
This is simply a method to tax people once, to have parks, and then have them spend what they have left after taxes to restore needy parks.
Recommendation 4.03 calls for administration to review more opportunities for naturalization while 4.07 calls for naturalization of so-called underutilized parks. This is simply code to legitimize having some parks go to seed.
It is also supported by the curious 4.04 no mow recommendation.
Some pundits fear the Parks Department wants less neighbourhood parks and more grand parks that serve only the highly mobile. Recommendation 5.04 says there is a need to identify parks to, “… serve as community hubs.”
The transfer of responsibility of park maintenance to taxpayers also includes trails. Recommendation 6.10 talks of an Adopt-a-Trail program.
Reducing the park inventory seems to be covered in recommendation 8.01 which calls for a review and update of the “… park disposition list.” Although, and this may be camouflage, recommendation 8.03 calls for working with others, such as school boards or railways, to acquire parkland in areas with a deficiency.
Recommendation 9.19 is another nasty piece of work capable of ending universal access to the parks system.
It wants more revenue generating activities. Like the aquatic centre, this smacks of allowing private use of public assets at a price. Those who can afford the cost get to rule the parks of their desire.
A significant clue to the real objective of the plan is recommendation 8.07 which calls for the Parks, Recreation, and Culture Departments to, “… undertake a sports needs analysis in conjunction with community and sports facilities users looking at consolidation opportunities.”
Consolidations result in less parks or worse; the relocation of facilities so they are no longer accessible to neighbourhoods.
Frankly, there are too many scary concepts in this plan which, when added up, could produce a diminished, pay-as-you-use parks system where cash is king.
Sadly, taxpayers can’t rely on their councillors to protect their interests.
In deliberations of the 2016 budget, the asleep-at-the-switch crew completely missed administration’s plan to renege on an agreement to allow downtown restaurants to provide patio services without charge.
The greatest fear some have is the councillors will gladly approve this detrimental parks scheme. Not that even one of them would care.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at noon every Thursday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. It is also streamed online at CJAM.