LETTER: Reconsider city decision to close Safari Kids Zone

To: City of Abbotsford Parks Recreation & Culture Committee Members,

I am writing this letter to express my disappointment with the sudden, surprise permanent closing of Safari Kids Zone.  The decision to close this facility effective June 30, seems to have been done without any consultation with the public who paid for this facility.  As a public body, do you not have the responsibility to be accountable and transparent?

The City of Abbotsford’s offering of recreational programming for young children is not near that available in neighbouring communities. My family knows this because we have lived in four other communities in the last seven years. I was hopeful that a YMCA would bring much needed recreation and wellness for all ages, but the City of Abbotsford had other priorities.  I have accepted this decision, however, when the city yanks the best remaining public facility away from my children, I cannot stay silent anymore.

The City of Abbotsford’s website describes Safari Kids Zone well:

Safari Kids Zone was created with the City of Abbotsford vision that recreation for all should be affordable, safe, healthy, green and inclusive.

What has happened to this vision for affordable, safe recreation?

On your Facebook page, your staff state that the facility is  closing due to “declining enrolment.”  However, earlier this year, the city made the decision to close this facility for drop-ins so it was open only for birthday parties. Of course enrolment is down!

And even if enrolment was declining, is there a policy in place that once enrolment reaches a certain amount, a public facility has to close? Did the city do any kind of brainstorming to see ways to increase attendance? Did you do any surveys to determine what families need in terms of programming and hours? Did you investigate the possibility of bringing in an outside partner to keep the facility going?

We are not the only family who wants this facility back.

Abbotsford Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission, would you kindly reconsider your decision to close Safari Kids Zone? Please re-open it to the public for drop-ins and birthday parties as it was before.

Cheryl Davie, Abbotsford

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