Using Children To Cut Services


Tuomi-HeaderTaxpayers, might soon be irritated by Windsor’s parks department not doing a good job of tending to the city’s parks. This could happen because and the cause will be the city’s children. All because, at its June 20 meeting, Council agreed to put a splash pad in Jackson Park.

City bureaucrats say the approval will result in dire consequences. Once the pad is in, service levels across Windsor’s network of parks will start declining, according to parks manager Mike Clement.

He argued, in a report, that making children happy will make it hard on the paid workers in his department to, “… properly maintain all splash pads for use during the summer season.”

And, with the insatiable demands of the rich FINA organization, it is unlikely the city can step in and give Clement more money.

Clement is also the man in the parks department suspected of being a parks removal advocate, so he might get his wish. But, for the moment, making hot days bearable for the city’s impoverished youth could require the hiring of, “… four (4) additional summer students and one seasonal vehicle are likely required.”

Despite the city gladly bankrolling FINA, it seems to have, “… insufficient funding to continue to sustain appropriate maintenance on these assets [the splash pads] without reducing maintenance to other park assets.”

It is a particularly glum scenario.

To compensate for being nice to the kids, his department will, out of necessity, reduce, “… service in other areas of parks to try and sustain these units. This situation is likely to result in complaints about other park assets not being maintained to previously experienced service levels as resources are pulled to address splash pads.”

Also subtly throwing cold water on the pads is bureaucrat Heidi Baillargeon.

In her report to council, she asked them to approve the splash pad, but admits there are issues. She explained a, “… lifecycle analysis for splash pads has yet to be explored by the City and therefore all associated costs are not yet identifiable.”

Running splash pads, as Clement alluded, is costly. Items include, “… vandalism, excessive use and equipment wear and tear are factors for early replacement costs which could have significant financial costs.”

Baillargeon whined the, “… new facility must be inspected on an ongoing basis for potential health and safety, liability … inspections and ongoing maintenance will have an impact on our staffing.”

About the only good news in this is that the city’s children have six to eight weeks to prepare for their new role as scapegoats. It will take that long to put in the pad. Mind you, there could be more to this.

It certainly smacks of the old public servant trick of using a new amenity as an excuse to reduce services. When people complain, they might be given two choices, pay more taxes or clean up the parks themselves.

The latter simply has ratepayers dutifully paying up and then taking on the work of the hired hands. If this is the case, the Administrators win while the taxpayers are played for suckers.

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Robert Tuomi

After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields.

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