Louise Leask has been bringing her out-of-town visitors to the Bloedel Conservatory ever since it opened 40 years ago, and says it’s a “crying shame” her favourite attraction is set to shut down in March.
“Tourists (from around world) come to see all the beautiful tropical birds and fish and plants – everything we don’t get to see (everyday),” said Leask, who was at Queen Elizabeth Park with a cousin from up North.
“I really think they should do anything to save it.”
The Vancouver Park Board voted 4-3 on Wednesday night to cut funding to the conservatory and the children’s farmyard in Stanley Park in order to cover a $2.8-million budget shortfall.
The conservatory was losing about $240,000 a year and is set to close on March 1. As for the farmyard, which was losing $160,000 annually, the plan is to immediately begin searching for homes for the animals.
Leask said a fund should be started and people should be able to contribute a minimal amount that would eventually add up and save the facility.
She said she’d be willing to send $10, as did Robert Dunn, another visitor.
“It should not be closed,” he said. “It’s a big treasure for Vancouver. I don’t know anywhere else that has (what it offers).”
Park Board Comm. Ian Robertson voted against the cuts and said there hasn’t been enough public consultation into the matter.
He said a private donor has offered $100,000 over the next four years to save the farmyard, and on Thursday he received another “sizable” donation offer.
“Clearly that would not have been enough,” Robertson said. “But the point is there are people out there who are prepared to make a donation.”
“You can’t sustain continual losses, and I understand that. But I think it would have been prudent to at least give staff 60 days to come up with an alternate means of operating both facilities.”
Park Board Comm. Raj Hundal said at the end of the day the Park Board needed to come up with $2.8 million and “difficult decisions had to be made.”
“We maintained the core services like ensuring we are keeping our community centres open and that we have lifeguards,” he said.
“In a perfect world we’re able to keep the (venues), but if we’re asked to prioritize, I’d rather keep community centres open.”
-with files from Stig Neilsen