Community centres play a precious role in Vancouver’s neighbourhoods and have a long history of volunteerism. There is a crucial relationship between the City (Park Board) and the associations that have for generations been intimately involved in their community centres.
After controversy and many months of negotiation, today the City of Vancouver is going public with a cheery announcement that “Vancouver Park Board delivers renewed Joint Operating Agreement document to Community Centre Association partners” (See link here). The Park Board is holding a briefing for media this morning. Here is the official link to the City’s web page on the draft JOA.
But not all is rosy. This has been a long road to get to here, and after arduous negotiations and a lawsuit against the City, 15 Community Centre Associations (CCAs) have issued a joint statement expressing disappointment in the current draft agreement (which the City has labelled as “final”). We provide text of the CCA statement below, which points out five main concerns: dispute resolution, membership, financial costs, multiple provisions for termination of the relationship, and association governance and autonomy.
Related media coverage:
- Park Board heralds new community centres deal: Fifteen associations unhappy with results of lengthy negotiations (by Bob Mackin, Business in Vancouver, 7-Dec-2016)
- New deal between Vancouver park board, community-centre associations in jeopardy? (by Cheryl Chan, Vancouver Sun, December 6, 2016)
- Interview with Alex Burton – a board member at Mt Pleasant Community Centre Association (Roundhouse Radio, 2-Dec-2016). Audio stream:
SCHEDULE: According to the City’s website, the agreement will be presented to the public and commissioners at the December 12 Park Board meeting (see agenda for PDF staff report). A special public meeting will be held on January 25 where speakers may be heard, after which the Board of Commissioners will vote on adopting the new agreement. If adopted, the signing deadline for CCAs is March 1 and with the new JOA slated to take effect June 1, 2017.
From Vancouver Sun article: “The 15 associations unhappy with the draft plan are Champlain, Douglas Park, False Creek, Hastings, Kerrisdale, Killarney, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, Renfrew, Roundhouse, Thunderbird, Trout Lake, Strathcona, West End and West Point Grey.” Also, … “the 15 associations had asked for a meeting with commissioners to discuss their concerns before the plan formally goes before the board Monday, but have been rebuffed.”
Joint statement from 15 CCAs, 5-Dec-2016
Community Centre Associations cite disappointment over Vancouver Park Board’s continued refusal to address community needs in Joint Operating Agreement
From a Vancouver, B.C. – After a three-hour meeting over the weekend (Sat, Dec. 3) with Vancouver Park Board staff to review a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA), a group from 15 Community Centre Associations (CCAs) is publicly stating their disappointment that their extensive input and feedback has essentially been ignored. The CCAs say that they are worried about what happens next because, while progress has been made with the JOA, there is concern that the Park Board has identified this draft as “final” and CCAs have been told that if they don’t sign, they will be terminated.
In early Nov., representatives from the 15 CCAs, all of whom are volunteers who work directly in their communities, provided an in-depth proposal to the Park Board. They put in hundreds of hours of work in the evenings and on weekends to develop this document. Upon submission, the group had informed the Park Board that they would recommend signing the JOA to their respective boards of directors, if the next draft of the JOA addressed and resolved the issues as set out in their proposal. The Park Board acknowledged receipt of the proposal, but did not provide any other response regarding the document. At the meeting over the weekend, the CCAs were discouraged that the draft presented did not reflect any significant changes and that some essential components of their proposal had not been incorporated.
The CCAs are hoping that at a Park Board meeting set for Dec. 12, the Commissioners will ask key questions and direct staff to address the elements that continue to be problematic.
Said Ainslie Kwan, Killarney CCA past-president: “This draft of the JOA is a great disappointment. We believed that we had come a long way in working with the Park Board and that we were making good progress in developing a JOA that would work for the Park Board and for each of our communities. The current draft of the JOA misses the mark. It’s clear that there is still much to be done.” She explained: “We bring decades of knowledge, expertise and experience in successfully running community centres to the table. We feel strongly that the needs of our communities are not being addressed by the Park Board and that is unacceptable. The approach the Park Board has taken has not been consultative and that is clearly reflected in a document that fails to take our primary concerns into account. It is crucial that we find a way to come together and develop a JOA that meets the needs of the Park Board and each of our unique communities.”
The key areas of CCA concern are:
● Dispute resolution
● Financial costs
● Multiple provisions for termination of the relationship
● Association governance and autonomy
Community centres serve an important purpose in each of Vancouver’s unique and diverse communities. Said Alex Burton, Board member of Mount Pleasant CCA: “Let’s be clear here. We have a strong group of 15 Community Centre Associations that have come together in collaboration and consensus on what must be included in the JOA – this is unprecedented. The JOA sets the foundation of how we move forward in partnership with the Park Board for the next 15 years.” He added: “We are committed to ensuring that we continue to provide affordable and accessible programs in each of our unique Vancouver neighbourhoods. We are calling on the Park Board Commissioners to step forward and get involved in working with us to resolve this issue. As elected officials, they have a responsibility to the community – and we need their leadership in improving this agreement so that it works for the Park Board and for our unique communities.”
The 15 associations have clearly stated that unless changes are made to the JOA that address their major concerns, a successful outcome for a completed JOA is in jeopardy. The CCA group believes that Park Board Commissioners want a completed JOA as much as they do and the group is asking Commissioners to get involved now. They are hopeful that the Commissioners will agree to work with them to develop a mutually acceptable agreement that each of the 15 CCAs can put forward to their individual boards with a recommendation to sign. Said Burton: “We are hopeful that we can move this process forward to a successful conclusion with the involvement of the Commissioners.”
FROM STAFF REPORT TO PARK BOARD
Following are the 20 CCAs (21 community centres) that fall within the scope of the new JOA: [Note: CityHallWatch has bolded the CCAs opposed to the current draft JOA.]
|Joint Operating Agreements: Park Board / Community Centre Association|
|Association / Society||Community Centre(s)|
|Champlain Heights Community Association||Champlain|
|Douglas Park Community Association||Douglas Park|
|Dunbar Community Association||Dunbar|
|False Creek Community Association||False Creek|
|Grandview Community Association||Trout Lake|
|Hastings Community Association||Hastings|
|Kensington Community Association||Kensington|
|Kerrisdale Community Centre Society||Kerrisdale|
|Killarney Community Centre Society||Killarney|
|Kitsilano War Memorial Community Association||Kitsilano|
|Marpole-Oakridge Community Association||Marpole-Oakridge|
|Mount Pleasant Community Centre Association||Mount Pleasant|
|Renfrew Park Community Association||Renfrew|
|Riley Park Hillcrest Community Association||Hillcrest|
|Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Society||Roundhouse|
|Strathcona Community Centre Association||Strathcona|
|Sunset Community Association||Sunset|
|Thunderbird Community Association||Thunderbird|
|West End Community Centre Association||Coal Harbour & West End|
|West Point Grey Community Association||West Point Grey|
Out of scope Community Centres:
|Britannia||Tripartite Operating Agreement:
– Britannia Community Services Society
– Vancouver School Board
– Vancouver Park Board
|Creekside||Direct Park Board operation (no CCA)|
|Ray-Cam||Tripartite Operating Agreement:
– Ray-Cam Community Association
– BC Housing
– Vancouver Park Board