On Monday, March 6, 2017, Park Board Commissioners voted to refer the controversial Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) back to staff for further discussion. Carlito Pablo covered the story in the Georgia Straight after the vote, “Vancouver park board and community-centre associations have resumed talking.” (See excerpts further below.)
CityHallWatch has obtained this statement from Vancouver Community Centre Associations, copied below.
Statement from group of Community Centre Associations (CCAs) regarding March 6, 2017 Park Board decision to direct staff to work with CCAs and their lawyer (Statement, March 9)
CCA representatives say that they are cautiously encouraged about the Park Board Commissioners’ decision to direct staff to work with CCAs and their respective lawyers on the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA).
Said Sherry Breshears, president of the Hastings Community Association: “We are asking for a good faith process in the absence of clear direction to staff from Commissioners to actually resolve the outstanding issues.” She added: “Having the CCA lawyer and the group of 14 CCAs at the table, along with the Park Board and their legal counsel, is the first step in getting a JOA that we can sign. But it is only the first step.”
The discussions will take place over the next month and the JOA will return to Park Board Commissioners for a decision on April 10. [CHW note: Mark that date.]
Explained Breshears: “We want Commissioners to direct staff to work with us equitably. Staff must come to the discussion with the intent to actively listen and engage, to participate in good faith. The representatives of each of the 14 CCAs have spent close to 10 months and hundreds of hours working together towards getting a JOA that works for each of our diverse communities and for the Park Board.” She continued: “We want this process to work, and for that to happen, Park Board staff need to come to the table ready to focus on an agreement that works for everyone involved.”
For more extensive information and references, see the My Community Center website:
http://mycommunitycentre.com. Follow @Vancouver_CCAs on Twitter.
Carlito Pablo, Georgia Straight, 7-Mar-2017
Photo caption: The simmering dispute between the Vancouver park board and community-centre associations over the operation of recreation facilities has been prevented from spilling over.
Park commissioners have deferred a decision on a new joint operating agreement that community-centre associations previously vowed to reject.
Commissioners were supposed to vote on a deal Monday (March 6) but chose to send the contract back to staff. More important, the board heeded the call by community-centre associations to have lawyers from both parties discuss outstanding disagreements.
“We really want this to be a careful document that everybody feels they’re respected and that they’re heard,” vice chair Erin Shum told the Straight in a phone interview.
According to Shum, a new version is expected to be presented to the board on April 10. With city and community-centre association lawyers working together, Shum said that both sides may finally come to an agreement.
The past and current park boards have been trying to seal a new pact with 20 community-centre associations regarding their joint operation of recreation complexes across the city. In 2013, the park board at the time tried to evict six associations from their respective centres but was stopped by a court injunction.
Most of the existing operating agreements date back to 1979. The city has been trying to revamp these deals since the 1990s.
A majority of the community-centre associations have told the present board that language in the current draft of a new agreement undermines their independence and their ability to serve their constituencies.
Sherry Breshears, president of the Hastings Community Association, said that she is “encouraged” by the move taken by park commissioners on March 6.
“They listened to us when we were trying to communicate to them very clearly that we need to resolve some issues from the legal perspective,” she told the Straight.
Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter: @carlitopablo.