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To the Zoo Sept Deputation

To the Zoo Sept Deputation

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Published by: Miguel Avila-Velarde on Sep 25, 2012
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To the Zoo Committee Administrator: Please add my comments to the agenda for the September 25, 2012 on items ; ZB 16.

1 2013 Operating Plan and Budget and ZB 16.3 Panda Transportation
Partner/Sponsor Rfp

I understand that my comments and the personal information in this email will form part of the public record and that my name will be listed as a correspondent on agendas and minutes of City Council or its committees. Also, I understand that agendas and minutes are posted online and my name may be indexed by search engines like Google. Comments:

September 24, 2012 Board of Directors of the Toronto Zoo Dear Board Members: Here are my comments for zoo items ZB 16.1 and ZB 16.3
By Miguel Avila and Larry Perlman:

A majority of Toronto Zoo Board members finally saw the writing on the wall and came to the conclusion that the present governance structure is broken (its hard to believe they would admit their shortcomings after so many years). I could have told them that YEARS AGO when Cal White was CEO, the Toronto Zoo Foundation was phased out, the Zoo junkets by Councillors were commonplace and thousands of free zoo passes were given out to Council members without accountability. Oh, and let's not forget the upcoming Panda exhibit which will lose millions of dollars after the five years of their stay (cute but a what cost?). Having said that, this new governance proposal is a dud. While dismissing privatization outright, the so-called Governance Committee chose to pass the responsibility of managing the Zoo to a "society" (ie. non-profit authority), thinking it would bring in the big bucks. IT WON'T, for the simple reason that it is too late.

First, the Panda exhibit was initiated WITHOUT AN EFFECTIVE BUSINESS PLAN. Second, the $90 Million plus capital deficit could not possibly be covered with requests for donations from families and a few sponsors. Third, senior staff, despite its heart of gold regarding the animals, sat quietly while the Zoo Board made a mockery of the institution. Finally, the marketing efforts, while noble recently, can not hide the fact that admission prices are far too high and costs MUST BE CONTAINED. The ten-year time frame to cut the $11-12 Million dollar subsidies from the City of Toronto is also far too long and not worth the money. Think about it, it represents A MINIMUM commitment of $110 Million until the City gets rid of this financial mess of a zoo. Try getting THAT through the City's long-term budget plans. If private interests wish to take over the mess left by the Zoo Board, City Council should JUMP AT THE CHANCE. Why should the Zoo be such a money pit for Toronto? The Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo dug themselves such a deep hole it is virtually impossible to get out without MAJOR financial sacrifices. I can't wait to find out how Josh Colle, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Mark Grimes, Raymond Cho and Glenn de Baeremaker (and let's not forget Rob Ford's designate on the Panda file, 'ol George Mammoliti) will explain themselves to City Council when this item comes to the clam shell...ops CIty Council

The Panda Exhibit budget and business plan makes no sense for me and have more questions than answers: 1. Is there a five-year budget document outlining expectations of revenues and expenses? 2. How much money is expected from all sponsors?

3. What is Federal Express getting for this generosity? How much will it cost the Zoo? 4. Will the Panda Exhibit interfere with the plan to make the Zoo a non-profit organization with no city influence? 5. Will the City of Toronto continue to fund the operating deficit AND the capital costs of the zoo? 6. Have any private companies made offers to purchase the Zoo?

Thank You

Miguel Avila City Hall Monitor
-"Political speech [...] is the single most important and protected type of expression. It lies at the core of the guarantee of free expression [...]. The right of the people to discuss and debate ideas forms the very foundation of democracy [...]. For this reason, the Supreme Court of Canada has assiduously protected the right of each citizen to participate in political debate." - SUPREME COURT OF CANADA, 2004

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