Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


I attended this meeting and was first on the speakers' list followed by JL Hamilton, activist; Kate Perkins, Trout Lake CC; and Paul Faoro, CUPE 15. Clearly many speakers cancelled after the Tuesday Council meeting added $200,000 back in to the washroom budget, and $100,000 to the sports field budget. My brief speech is appended. The atmosphere at the meeting was surprisingly collegial compared to my past experience of perhaps 10 years ago when Roslyn Cassels was the sole non-NPA Commissioner. I was asked several questions: Qu: How many women caretakers live alone and are they safe? Ans: Several, and they need to take precautions, but are just as effective as men; Qu: What do caretakers do? Ans: [Many things short of rocket science] ..., but critically "maintain a presence in the park, especially with regard to predators, one of which breed lingered in MY Ladies washroom just this past Monday evening, resulting in a 911 call. in general I felt that I received an appreciative hearing. Qu:Would I be willing to expand on my comments at a Committee Meeting? Ans:Gladly Chair Jasper called for a staff report into the status of Caretakers. Hopefully this will lead to a sincere realignment of staff's biases, and is NOT just another empty promise. There were considerable grumblings that City Hall was dictating priorities to the Board and its staff -- like what else is new? It has just happened more blatantly recently! The only other Agenda item was to approve an $800,000 Fieldhouse at Trillium Park (with showers and washrooms but no Caretaker accommodation). Trillium is a new park with several soccer fields only 4 blocks west of Strathcona Park fieldhouse, where the Caretaker accommodation has lain empty for many years, although miraculously it appears to have so far escaped the vandalism which occurred at Grandview, Pandora, and Slocan, resulting in many hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. My opinion was not asked, so in keeping with the status of a humble visitor, I did not offer it. Overall I am hopeful that some form of meeting with Caretakers will be held sometime in 2011. But I am not holding my breath!



At 5:51 AM, Anonymous Colin Stark said...

Here is the brief speech I made to Park Board:

To: Chair Jasper and Commissioners December 16th, 2010


I have been a Park Caretaker for the past 17 years. I am a retired manufacturing engineer and manager, and came to Vancouver over 30 years ago as Operations manager of a company employing 350 cleaners, to clean office buildings like the Royal Centre.

Since the budget cuts to washroom hours have been suspended, I will NOT deliver my prepared 5 minute RANT, but speak only a few words of truth to power.

We caretakers welcome the respite provided by Tuesday’s Council decision. But the problem has not gone away. PLEASE, Commissioners, and Mr. Bromley, make a quick study of the troubled history of labour relations with your Caretakers, and set up a meeting to put matters right. [This Chair Jasper asked to be done] (You may want to check out Fiona Hughes' article in The Courier of November 19th, 2006).

We have always FIRMLY BELIEVED that caretakers are BY FAR the best and least expensive solution to cleaning washrooms in 95% of cases, yet we are now down to about 30 Caretakers, from 50 only 10 years ago. Best, particularly with regard to SERVICE AND SAFETY. WE are willing to talk, which would be the first time in 25 years, if not longer; if you are.

I close with a quote from Eric Meagher, longtime Supervisor of Caretakers, who retired 18 months ago from the post of Supt. of Stanley Park, after about 25 years of sterling service. I am told that he repeated the gist of this quote at his retirement party:

" … I do want, however, to thank everyone for all that you have done for me, the Park Board, and for all the users of our parks over the years; the caretakers are often the forgotten souls in our system and I think that I am one of the few people who fully understands the value that you all add to our organization... "

[Eric Meagher, letter to Vancouver Park Board Caretakers: February 1, 1999]


Colin Stark
Longtime Park Caretaker


Post a Comment

<< Home