05 April 2017

Righting a past wrong

At the 10 April 2017 meeting of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, NPA Commissioner Casey Crawford has a motion on notice entitled "Recreation Fees for Pre-schoolers and Families". This motion would direct staff to "investigate the budget implications of adjusting the pre-school age category from the current '2 years of age and under', to '5 years of age and under'."

I applaud Commissioner Crawford for this motion. Fees for this age group were implemented in the 2011 fee schedule under a Vision Vancouver majority Park Board in that year's budget. I tried to amend the budget to retain the exemption for children 5 and under, but my amendment was defeated by the Vision and NPA Commissioners.

In my Betterparks blog post of 18 November 2010, I questioned whether that Board was the least progressive in living memory for this attack on families. In that article I wrote: 

"I moved the amendment as I believe this is an unfair burden to put on parents of young children. I simply don’t understand how bringing in new fees for toddlers will generate a significant amount of revenue for the Board. It will most probably discourage parents and children from being active and this will have long lasting costs for all of us. This new fee for young children follows the reduction in Community Centre programmers, a summer of cut-backs in playground programs, and the closing of the Kids Street Clubhouse after-school care program."

After being re-elected in 2014, I tried to change the fee schedule in the 2015 budget to exempt this age group, with the NPA and Vision Commissioners again defeating the amendment.

I am pleased that Commissioner Crawford is bringing this forward and hope that all Commissioners will support the motion. While I would prefer a more proactive approach, where we would direct staff to make this change in the next budget, thereby correcting this past mistake, I am prepared to follow the route chosen by Commissioner Crawford, and hear what our staff reports back. 

Getting a good start in life includes recreation. Any way we can help families instill an active, healthy lifestyle in their children will have benefits now and in the future, not only for them, but for our society as a whole.

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