Winnipeg – City plans to drop responsibility for Assiniboine Park is irresponsible, according to CUPE officials. On Monday, the Free Press reported that the city “wants to create a new arm’s-length body to govern the entire park.”
While the details of the plan are not yet public, the change will essentially put the park in private hands, according to Gary Swanson, President of CUPE Local 500.
“We told the city many times, that giving up control of the Park was not good for the citizens of Winnipeg. The Park is a public asset and by keeping it public we can assure that a vibrant resource is kept for everyone in Winnipeg,” said Swanson
The option of having local non-governmental organizations take over the Park was being considered over the last year.
“We realize the value of the volunteer groups to the Park and their vested interest in aspects of the Park operation. However, once the City loses control of the park, it will lose its public focus. It will be the responsibility of the new board to run the Park like a business, not a public asset.”
According to Swanson, “the Park is maintained by a dedicated staff who are committed to providing the public with the best possible service. Our members are not the reason the Park is declining - they have to deal with cutback after cutback in funding. It’s City Council who created this mess in jurisdictional responsibility in 1998 when they dismantled the former Parks and Recreation Department.” CUPE represents about 100 workers who have maintained the Park for decades.
The union argues that strong civic leadership, a solid single administrative mandate and a financial commitment from the City for the Park is what is needed.
“The Park as a public asset belongs to the citizens of Winnipeg for the good of all, for the continued enhancement of our culture and for the overall economy of the city. That is its history!” Swanson states.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than a half-million women and men. In Manitoba, CUPE represents 24,000 members working in health care facilities, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services. CUPE represents about 5,000 frontline support staff working in the City of Winnipeg.
For information, contact:
President CUPE Local 500
CUPE National Representative