Kids are gonna be blue in No Fun City
Vancouver city council a discussing recommendations to increase fees for block parties and special events at tomorrow's City Services and Budgets meeting. Fees for community block parties are to be implemented in order to cover costs, going from zero to $50. Approximately 150 community block parties were held in 2009 in neighbourhoods across the city. These events are organized by volunteers and generally have no budgets.
You can probably say goodbye to these small and vital community events because they are usually organized on a very thin dime. By comparison, Burnaby charges zero dollars for block party permits, and North Vancouver charges $25 but they deliver the barricades to you. The fees according to city staff's report are expected to generated $5500 annually for the City of Vancouver.
Other recommendations by staff include a 50% increase in filming permits. While the increase from $100 to $150 is not considered onerous, additional fees can be enough of a catalyst for film productions to choose other jurisdictions, such as filming instead in other cities within Metro Vancouver with lower fees.
On the subject of special events, the staff report outlines their importance:
Special Events are an important component for a vibrant community. Special events range from residential block parties to multi-day celebrations, such as the Celebration of Light. Special events may be organized by residents, community and not-for-profit organizations, or commercial and corporate organizations.
In December's budget slashing by Vision Vancouver, they eliminated the $165,000 budget for the Special Events program. Part of this budget was used to provide $1000 offsets for Police and Engineering Services for larger scale events such as the Italian Days Festival on Commercial Drive, and a proposed Hamilton Street hockey tournament in Yaletown. Staff and the City Manager recommend cancelling this $1000 offset and requiring event organizers to pay it instead.
On a related note, Mayor Gregor Robertson put forward a motion that has raised some eyebrows. At Tuesday's city council meeting Robertson's motion asked that the City Manager report back on how Vancouver can capitalize on the fun and excitement of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games:
THAT the City Manager be asked to report back to Council at the earliest possible time on the broad impacts of the Olympic and Paralympic Games with recommendations on legacy opportunities in the areas of:
- Job creation and economic growth;
- Encouragement of sport and athletic prowess;
- Arts and Culture;
- Public Safety;
- Accessibility enhancement; and
- Other areas that staff may recommend as an important opportunity.
Now, there are not a whole lot of people these days who would put "Penny Ballem" and "good time" in the same sentence. Why the Mayor didn't ask that this study be conducted instead by a third party blue ribbon panel of business and cultural leaders (people who are actually in the business of making fun) instead is beyond us.
I'm quite familiar with how much work it is to organize fun community events. The $50 will undoubtedly provide enough of an impediment that we'll see significantly less than the 150 street parties we saw in years past. Pack up the face paints, because it's unlikely that kids and families will get the block party to put them on.
It seems like no matter what the Vancouver City Hall does, it's got No Fun City built right into its DNA.