Permanent barbecues could soon be a hot new addition to Victoria parks as council includes them in its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan.
Originally listed as an action item for 2022, the pilot for community barbecue stations in parks and neighbourhood public spaces was amended to push forward in 2020 in order to integrate the first one into the ongoing upgrades to Topaz Park.
The permanent covered structures, with services provided, would allow people to cook food in parks without having to bring their own equipment.
“I think this is an innovative approach. If we are doing work in Topaz Park next year, I think adding this kind of amenity makes sense,” said Coun. Ben Isitt at a special committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 6.
While it was a five-to-one vote in favour of moving the action up to 2020, with Coun. Geoff Young the only one opposed, many councillors voiced concerns about the price tag of $85,000.
“We’ve talked a lot about how sharing food can bring people together. It is an important part of our public well-being and social cohesion,” said Coun. Laurel Collins. “I definitely have some questions and concerns about the budget allocation and some curiosity around whether we could reduce that.”
Coun. Sarah Potts and Coun. Geoff Young echoed the financial concern, with Young also noting the potential for public safety issues.
The planning and design for the barbecue station at Topaz Park would be integrated into the ongoing plans for improvements to that park already underway, so City staff said there would be no significant cost associated with the station for 2019. While cost and details still need to be finalized and approved, construction is projected to begin in 2020.
The Draft Financial Plan was released in mid-December, and outlines a $244.7 million budget, with a capital budget of $118 million for 2019.
The 800-page 2019 budget and 23-page draft strategic plan are both available online at victoria.ca.
The City of Victoria conducted an online survey and public consultation to gather feedback on the Draft 2019 Financial Plan. The survey asked residents to rank their priorities, and judge how they felt money was being spent.
To see the full, 285-page engagement summary, you can visit pub-victoria.escribemeetings.com/
– with files from Nicole Crescenzi