Rick was all fired-up about bringing a skateboard park to Bells Corners as far back as in 2006, when it was a prominent campaign promise. Nothing happened until shortly before the 2010 election, when Rick become once again an enthusiastic skaterBoy.
He invested a lot of effort and tax dollars into convincing the community that this time he was going to keep his skateboard park promise.
A Facebook group was launched, Bells Corners students were recruited to the cause through RC’s contacts in the Catholic schools and his daughters, and cool posters were disseminated where kids hang out.
A colourful flyer announcing the community meeting was printed by staff and distributed to many residents in selected parts of Bells Corners, along with the glossy eight-page RC magazine that went out to all 55,000 College ward residents.
A large crowd assembled in the Westcliffe community building, maybe 80 people, mostly kids chattering excitedly and keeping an eye on the tables at the back to see if the promised pizza and soft drinks had arrived yet. A costumed RC staff member in silly pseudo-skaterBoy clothes passed out free Team Chiarelli pens and worked the crowd a bit.
The crowd was eating it up as Rick painted a wondrous picture of a world-class facility right here in Bells Corners, planned and managed by the kids themselves.
After all the email addresses and contact info of the crowd had been harvested by the councillor’s staff, there was one last appeal to the kids to fire up their computers and get busy contacting friends to point them to the RC web address that adorned the free pens that everyone got.
In their excitement the kids and parents didn’t notice the fine print:
– the kids themselves would have to raise money by selling tickets to the famous “eat-spaghetti-with-Rick” fundraising event, and by peddling t-shirts and soliciting donations from residents and businesses
– when at least $10,000 had been raised the kids and their parents would have to “lobby the other councillors” to shake the big tax dollars out of Jim Watson’s money tree
When asked about the skateboard park at the last Westcliffe meeting Rick was singing a different tune, laying the blame for the lack of progress on the community: “we just don’t have critical interest in the community” and “the community has to put together a business case.”
Even his most fervent supporters on the WECA executive must have realized that they had been snowed once again by the wily career politician – the skateboard park promise/extravaganza was just to generate some good photo ops going into the election. And it worked! Prior to the election both community papers printed glowing reports of how Rick was galvanizing the community around this project.
Now, even the kids themselves seem to have given up – when the councillor rented a bus with tax dollars to drive them around to other parks and get some free taxpayer-financed swag, Rick reported that “only 8 people showed up.”
So don’t hold your breathe waiting for a skateboard park in Bells Corners – next time you’ll hear of it will be in the lead-up to the 2014 election, when once again Rick will rediscover his enthusiasm for skateboarding and try to fool Bells Corners residents once again.