LETTER: District must be transparent about park

The district has set the operating budget for the park in 2016 at $207,000 – We’re not familiar with this number.

Clarity and transparency is important in commenting on Fraser River Heritage Park and its operation by the Mission Heritage Association.

Last week’s report says the district has set the operating budget for the park in 2016 at $207,000 – “the same amount it paid last year.” We’re not familiar with this number.

For 2015, the MHA maintenance budget allocation from the district was $156,280. Our district maintenance budget covers a wide variety of expenses, from telephones to small equipment items, to hydro costs, etc. Only about half of that sum goes to salaries for maintenance and grounds keeping. Expenditures by the MHA alone at the park totaled $179,451 (to the end of September), some $25,000 more than the yearly district allocation. These funds are fundraised by the MHA from various sources and allow us to actually run the park.

In addition, we apply to the district for grants each year, but receipt of these is not guaranteed. In 2015, we received $11,356 as a fee for service for various operations, $16,000 for Canada Day (total cost was $43,056), and $8,500 for our Twilight Concerts (total cost was $34,467). Thus our total received in grants was $35,856. Together, the maintenance budget and grants total $192,136, so even if they are part of the quoted $207,000, there’s still a lot of money undetermined, and we would appreciate a breakdown of the costs to understand what we may be missing.

And contributions from other supporters let us reach the total expenditures cited in brackets. Previously, the district contributed to staffing for organizing Canada Day, but withdrew that support a couple of years ago. Current committee members have indicated they will not continue their involvement any longer.

Another $5,000 was sent by the district to folk fest last year in error, and the MHA still has not received it. Also, the district this year has not met the conditions of our existing contract in that we are to receive a yearly increase equal to the Vancouver Price Index (CPI) which has been forthcoming in previous years.

In 2015, some 9,464 volunteer hours contributed to the upkeep of the grounds and gardens, with another 4,569 hours contributed to programming. The district will need to maintain this commitment in order to ensure park operations continue at the same level they have been over the past many decades.

We hope the district will be as transparent in reporting annual expenditures on the park as the MHA!

Brian Antonson