The My Community Centres group has issued a media statement today about a major milestone reached last night.
Killarney Community Centre Society signed the Park Board’s Joint Operating Agreement. The statement goes into some of the challenges they and other Vancouver community centre associations have experienced.
This is part of a long saga that goes back years in the debates between community centre associations in Vancouver and the Park Board regarding Joint Operating Agreements. Below is the text of the release. Please visit their website for the whole background and much more info.
Killarney Community Centre Society Board Signs Joint Operating Agreement with Park Board
March 28, 2018
Vancouver, B.C. – The Killarney Community Centre Society (KCCS) Board has voted to sign the current draft of the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) put forward by the Park Board.
Ainslie Kwan, Past President of KCCS, said: “While we are relieved that we now have a contract with the Park Board, the KCCS board’s decision to sign this agreement was not an easy one. The gains have come at a heavy price – as community volunteers and to our community. Unfortunately, this is not an agreement that deserves celebration.”
Explained Kwan: “I think it is fair to say – and many CCA board members and presidents involved in this process would agree with me – that we have been let down by our politicians. Commissioners created the process of a New Way Forward, but did not follow through to ensure that it had integrity. The process clearly lacked any ability for CCAs to negotiate and was filled with artificial and meaningless deadlines and an overarching threat of eviction. Commissioners allowed this process to continue, even though they were clearly informed by their constituents that it was not working.”
Said Kwan: “The process created a hostile and ineffective environment that has come at a serious cost to the people of Vancouver’s diverse and vibrant communities.” She added: “This lack of consistent leadership from Commissioners made the JOA process much longer, difficult and more damaging to the relationship than it should have been. As we go forward, the rebuilding of the relationship must be a priority to us and to the Park Board. I want to be clear here. We all – including Park Board staff and Commissioners – must commit to building a foundation of respect and trust. The Park Board must view CCAs as true community partners, not service providers or order takers.”
Over the past six months, the process appeared to be handed off to the Park Board’s lawyers to manage. This did not help facilitate the collaboration needed to move forward and it became a battle of risk management vs. community need. Said Kwan: “We want to acknowledge that Park Board Director of Recreation Donnie Rosa, who came onboard late in the process, did help us to move forward when we were trapped in an endless loop of Park Board lawyers saying no to our input. Without her, we might still be in that place.”
Said Kwan: “CCA presidents, board members and other volunteers put hundreds, if not thousands, of hours into this process – time that took us away from our role at our community centres, from family and friends, and our ‘day jobs,’ in order to make sure that our communities were treated fairly. I know that many of us across Vancouver feel strongly that the Park Board treated us with disrespect.” She added: “With the exception of Erin Shum, who consistently fought for the community and, to a lesser extent, efforts by Commissioner Wiebe and Chair Mackinnon to move the process forward, we felt abandoned by Commissioners. These are the same people who promised, during the last election, that they were committed to rebuilding the relationship with CCAs. It is worse now than it was then. It will be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming election. I can tell you that our community is going to show up in full force during their campaigns to ask them what happened.”
Vancouver Community Centre Associations have an admirable 60 to 70-year track record of responsible financial management, community engagement, volunteer commitment, investment in local facilities, and recreation leadership. For more information about this issue, please visit: http://www.mycommunitycentre.com.