The Assiniboine Park Conservancy (APC) received a big boost to its budget recently.
As per the City of Winnipeg’s budget, the APC will receive $20.2 million from the city. That’s 78% of the Arts, Entertainment & Culture Expenses By Area listed in the 2013 Budget, including Arts, Entertainment and Culture Grants as well as Arts, Entertainment and Culture Events, and Museums.
Though it may appear as though other groups are missing out on funding, city officials assure they are not being taken away from.
"No funding is being taken from the other areas," said an email statement from Steve West, manager of corporate communications for the city. "This is simply where the funding for APC is slotted. If it was moved to another service category, the amount for the remainder of the service would not change. It is not based on a funding envelope for arts, entertainment and culture . . . that’s been the traditional placement in the service-based budget.
"Funding for this service is from general revenue, primarily property taxes."
West said the over $20.2 million for APC includes an operating grant of $12.2 million.
"The city was always, in the past, operating this park and zoo and they were spending a certain amount of money in the park," said Margaret Redmond, president and CEO of the APC. "We get an operating grant from the city of $12.2 million in 2013 under our long-term funding agreement with the city."
Redmond said even in 2008, when the park and zoo were handed over to the APC, the city was spending more than $9 million to operate them.
"This isn’t an incrementally new $12 million being put in the park," said Redmond. "This is really only a 30% increase, and you have a park that is now significantly (more) utilized, it’s being cared for, it has significantly more attractions and amenities, and you know that increase in the budget reflects that."
Redmond said as an arms-length company from the city, receiving funding was all part of the initial agreement between the city and the APC.
"We were asked to bring the park up to a much higher standard of care, with bigger attractions and to drive $200 million of development in the park, and raise three quarters of that from sources other than the city," Redmond said. "So those operating costs reflect all of those things, and then the remainder of that is capital dollars that go towards all the great things being built in the park and the city is a 25% funder in all of those."
The city has a large say in what happens within the park, with two city councillors on the APC’s board, said Redmond.
"We have a very detailed operating agreement with the city in terms of what our responsibilities are," Redmond said. "The city approves the development plan for the park and we are proposing a plan that they have already approved . . . And we report to them annually on progress we’re making on development and improving care in the park."