01:00:15 pm on
Wednesday 19 Jun 2024

Goodbye Parks
David Simmonds

Presqu’ile Provincial Park

The government of Doug Ford is serious regarding cutting back expenditures of the provincial government. He believes he must to fix that deficit problem, anon. Thus, the chopping has begun.

To the highest bidder.

Now there’s a rumour that next on the chopping block will be provincial parks; all closed down tight, with just two exceptions: Sandbanks Park and Algonquin Park; the rest gone; North Beach, gone; Bon Echo, gone; Presqu’ile, gone; Frontenac, gone. The parks are rumour to be up for sale to the highest bidder; perhaps another level of government, a conservation authority, a developer, a charity or an individual.

“If people want an outdoor experience, let them buy one of our parks or a cottage in Muskoka,” is the prevailing sentiment in the corridors of Queen’s Park. “Why should I pay taxes, at the top marginal rate,” said a source, “to support the birding and hiking habits of latte suckers that will vote against this government, anyway?”

To make sure that the mothballed parks attract the highest bidder, the Ford people are planning to pass a bill that deems the Endangered Species Act will no longer apply to decommissioned parks. They will be open for whatever form of development the successful buyer has in mind. “That should interest a few condo developers,” noted the administration official.

Why are there exceptions for Algonquin and Sandbanks? In the former case, the government (according to our source) realises people have “an emotional attachment to the place, what with Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven and all that. Besides, if we keep just Algonquin, people will value it more, which should bring more people to it, especially if we put in some more roads so that thousands of people could drive up from Etobicoke for the day and have a wilderness experience from the comfort of their vehicles. They won’t have to pay carbon tax on the gas they use.”

Sandbanks makes money.

With Sandbanks, the reason is straightforward: it makes money and the government believes it can make more, using time tested strategies from the business world. “For example,” said our source, rising to the occasion, “take those lineups to get into the park. Why not offer a VIP pass that for a hundred bucks enables you to go to the front of the line and avoids the agony of waiting in all day to get in. Anyone would be free to avail him- or herself of this option. If everyone did, we’d just keep upping the price until some did and some didn’t.

“There’s the question of user fees, too. Why not charge people for bringing the family dog along and using the dog-friendly section of the beach. The same with beach toys and, come to think of it, the beach itself: rent it out by the square inch.

“Here’s another idea. If you go to a major sports arena, you know any food or beverages you try to bring in are confiscated: you have to buy sold on site. If we brought the same business discipline to Sandbanks, we could make a fortune off the sale of stadium-priced hotdogs. Just think of the revenue if we extended the ban to suntan lotion and insect repellent.

“Wait, there’s more opportunities, we’re just getting started. We could sell alcohol for a buck a beer, provided people bought a 50-dollar licence to consume it on the beach and limit the purchase to, say, two per customer. We could do the same thing with cannabis and tobacco, and set up a smoke-and-toke section on the beach that people could use, for an appropriate fee.

“We could offer people the service of protection against involuntary tire pressure loss while parked for a day at the beach. We’d have to hire a few people to act as tire pressure deflators, of course, but if we price the protection properly, we should still come out way ahead.”

Take that, latte suckers.

The Ford government knows that Ontarians, above all else, want fiscal responsibility and he is determined to show how that responsibility squares with sound environmental and recreation policy.W

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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