Toronto Zoo logo by Loozrboy
After lengthy debates, quarrels, and negotiations, Toronto city councillors decided to give the green light to a proposed version of the city’s budget that would come into effect in January 2012. Faced with a mounting budget deficit, Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford decided for massive cuts of the city spending in a pursuit to bridge a scary $774 million dollar budget gap. Services provided by the city and enjoyed by Torontonians will be eliminated or trimmed over the next year. Some of the approved cuts include selling off three city-owned theatres and stopping handing out tags allowing people to toss extra bags of garbage when necessary. However, it is the decision to sell off the Toronto Zoo that is stirring the most emotion.
Toronto Zoo by Derekp
Critics of the privatization point out that it’s irresponsible to hazard with the zoo as there is no assurance that the new investor will be able to handle or rationalize the current operating costs, which run up as high as $11 million. More than 268 full-time positions and 330 part-time and seasonal staff jobs could be in danger. Furthermore, so far, there is more or less no plan or notion for how the actual takeover of the zoo will take place, naturally raising worries among stakeholders.
On the other hand, many do not see the future of the zoo in such grey shades. Although the uncertainty about future developments always brings concerns, there is no reason to expect the changes to be negative. Shifting responsibility for running the zoo to the private sphere may attract new donors and make the zoo a more flexible and modern institution, responding more efficiently to visitors’ needs.
Toronto Zoo by Pat & Keri
As more than 1.4 million visitors attend the Toronto zoo each year, 33 per cent of whom are children, potential investors would be foolish not to take advantage of the potential and keep improving the zoo’s services. Creating new attractions and enlarging the fun zones of the area would certainly usher in the cash flow that the city seemed unable to produce. Mayor Rob Ford even hinted at potential buyers wishing to turn the Zoo into a theme park.
The authorities’ decision apparently met with approval among the Toronto Zoo board members. “The city should not be in the business of running a zoo,” said Joe Torzsok, chair of the Toronto Zoo board. He added that there is virtually no need for the Zoo to be managed by the city of Toronto.