TORONTO – The City of Toronto is planning to rid itself of the city’s two publicly-owned and operated ski hills along with other recreation facilities and programs, according to the union representing ski instructors and other workers.
“The public needs to know that decisions are being made in secret about which facilities and programs will continue as city services,” said Ann Dembinski, president of CUPE Local 79. “Operations are going to be affected by the city’s staffing cuts and the public won’t know a thing until the decisions have been made, whether they’re about ski hills or long-term care, public health or children’s services.”
While the city’s budget presentation showed cuts in almost every department, the way those cuts will be achieved is not transparent, Dembinski said, noting that management wants to avoid informing staff about cuts until the decisions have been made.
“But that means the public is being denied an opportunity to have a say on which services should remain public,” she said.
Possible candidates for shutdown, sale or leasing include the city’s two ski hills at Earl Bales Park and Centennial Park as well as the Glen Rouge campground.
“These are affordable and accessible facilities for families and individuals to enjoy a healthy, outdoor activity that otherwise might be out of reach for many,” Dembinski said. “Handing operations over to a private operator could take skiing back to its status as elite recreation.”
Dembinski pointed to the example of Chicago, which leased out its parking meters in a move the city’s Office of the Inspector-General called a “dubious financial deal” that was decided without time for city council to conduct a thorough analysis or for public comment.
“In addition, rates at most of the city’s parking meters immediately quadrupled,” she said. “Let’s not repeat those mistakes in Toronto. Let’s not give up programs that work for the public by making secret decisions behind closed doors.”
For more information, contact:
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-616-6142