Delta doesn't permit anyone to reserve a picnic shelter in North Delta's Annieville Park after Labour Day. Unless your name is Jinny Sims, that is.
A frustrated uncle is livid that his three-year-old niece's birthday party was bounced from the park's picnic shelter on Sunday to make way for the local MP's annual free family barbecue for her constituents.
Gerry Madore said his sister-in-law Nadine called Delta's parks department in the summer to try to reserve the covered shelter for her daughter Haley's birthday party on Sept. 16 but was told that after Labour Day it's only first come, first served.
Indeed, the only park in Delta that can be booked year-round is Ladner Harbour Park.
Picnic shelters in Delta's other parks can only be booked between Victoria Day and Labour Day, for a reservation fee of $120.
So, Haley's family decided to chance it and arrived at 8 a.m. Sunday, hoping to beat other parties to the shelter. Luckily for them, no one was there, so they set up Haley's party, decorations and all, and were waiting for some 15 or 20 guests. It was a beautiful sunny day and all was clear sailing. That is, until a Delta parks guy drove up in his truck.
"We're ready to rock and roll, have a good time," Madore recalled. "Next thing we know, a parks guy comes up and says we have to go - it's booked, for Jinny Sims."
Madore was stunned. "We were told you can't reserve," he protested. "They said it was first come, first served."
The parks rep was pleasant enough.
"His exact words were 'I guess she has some clout, some pull.' He kind of put his arms up in the air and said, 'I don't know.'"
So Madore's family had to pull down the balloons, happy birthday sign and ribbons, and move on. Haley still had her party, but on a single picnic table elsewhere in the park.
"I'm livid," Madore said. Jinny Sims' Annual Family BBQ was a free event for the MP's constituents, with everyone welcome. There was face painting, a bouncy castle and other activities for children.
"It was amazing," Sims said. "We had over 700 people come in."
She said she was planning to have the party in July or August but it was delayed. "My staff makes all these arrangements.
"I feel terrible," Sims said, about Haley's party being bumped. "I told the family that. I wasn't aware of any of this going on."
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said the parks staff should have handled things differently.
"Very sad, I'm sorry about that," Jackson said. "It's not fair. What's good for one is good for all, whether you're a little three-year-old or a big MP."