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Statement from Park Board Chair on next steps in Community Centre Associations litigation

August 29 2013

Park Board office in Stanley Park

The Vancouver Park Board’s primary interest lies with providing quality services to our residents and protecting the interests of taxpayers in our communities who have invested millions of dollars and volunteer hours to build our outstanding network of community centres throughout our city.
 
OneCard, a no-cost single access card for all Park Board facilities is one way the Park Board is putting public needs first.  Over 40,000 people have now acquired OneCard, which is designed to enable access for all Vancouver residents to the entire Park Board network of rinks, pools, fitness centres and community centres, just as a library card provides access for everyone to all public libraries across the city.
 
In 2010, the Park Board approved four guiding principles for a new Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with the Community Centre Associations (CCAs):

1.       Access for all citizens
2.       Access to a network of community centres
3.       Equity among community centres
4.       Operational sustainability and accountability
 
Over the past two years, Park Board staff have worked with all the CCAs towards a renewed JOA which reflects these principles as well as our diverse, changing communities. In February 2013 a negotiating table was established with designated representatives of the community centre Association Presidents Group and senior Park Board staff.
 
In February 2013 six CCAs (Killarney, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Hastings, Sunset and Hillcrest) removed themselves from the JOA renewal process and declined to participate in negotiations despite repeated written invitations by the Park Board to join the negotiation table. In June 2013 an interim agreement was reached by 16 of the 22 CCAs in the Park Board system. The six CCAs who had withdrawn from the process failed to ratify the interim agreement by the deadline of July 31, 2013.
 
On August 20, 2013, the six non-ratifying CCAs (Killarney, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Hastings, Sunset and Hillcrest) served notice to the Park Board of complex legal actions which are designed to:

  • Prevent the implementation of OneCard in their centres
  • Prevent a Park Board approved and funded project to construct a childcare centre at the Kensington Centre
  • Allow claims for damages in the millions of dollars including a claim for a 50 per cent interest in Park Board community centres, built with hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars over the past decades

Their claim is essentially a challenge to the right of the elected Park Board to set a public policy agenda on behalf of citizens.
 
These allegations are serious and the Park Board will be defending them in court.

By commencing this claim the Plaintiff associations have shown that, in contrast to the other 16 CCAs in the Park Board community centre network, they are not prepared to work with the Park Board to bring the relationship into alignment with the Board's public policy goals.

In a setting where the six CCAs as plaintiffs are seeking significant damages against the Board and seeking court intervention to block Board objectives, the Park Board has no alternative but to cease doing business with them. Therefore the Board has directed senior staff to serve notice under the existing JOA to the six Associations (Killarney, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Hastings, Sunset and Hillcrest) that their agreement with the Park Board will be ending. 

The JOA requires three months’ notice to each Association to end the agreement, but in the interest of providing seamless service to the public the Park Board has extended the notice period to coincide with the end of the fall programming session on December 31, 2013.  This is well beyond the basic notice requirement of the JOA.
 During the period from today to December 31, 2013 it will be business as usual in these six centres:

  • CCA childcare and pre-school programs will continue as normal – no change.
  • All programs will be continued as normal – no change. 
  • CCA local volunteer program committees will continue to oversee local programing for the fall session – no change.
  • CCA instructors will continue to deliver programs to the public under the supervision of Park Board staff – no change.
  • Park Board staff will continue to supervise and oversee all operations in the six centres – no change.
  • OneCard will not be implemented for CCA programs and services in these centres before December 31, 2013 – no change.
  • All centre generated revenues relating to fall program registrations, facility rentals, and other related facility income will flow to the six CCAs up to and including December 31, 2013. All existing financial arrangements will be maintained including the ability of the Association to fundraise – no change.

A transition plan for operations post December 31, 2013 has been developed by Park Board senior staff and approved by the Park Board. It is the clear intention of the Park Board to establish by fall 2014 a new arrangement with a community organization to work under a new JOA with Park Board on delivering recreation services in these six local community centres.

The rest of the transition plan is focused on ensuring that services to the public in the six community centres continue seamlessly with local input and responsiveness during the transition period through the winter, spring and summer sessions of 2014.
 
A number of steps will be taken to support a successful transition over 2014:

  • There will be no reduction in programs or changes in pricing for programs in the six centres – no change.
  • Seniors programs, including the large seniors centre in Kerrisdale, are a high priority for the Park Board and will continue as normal and  be managed by the Park Board – no change.
  • Community volunteers on local Program Committees have dedicated significant time and have key expertise in developing local programing in collaboration with our Park Board staff. They will be asked to continue this involvement – no change.
  • Childcare Programs across the six centres are a high priority for Park Board. The Park Board will invite CCAs to continue operating these programs until the end of the school year in summer 2014 to avoid any disruption to families and children - the Park Board will continue to fully support these critical programs as they do now – no change.
  • The approximately 500 instructors and other staff delivering recreation programs in the six centres under the supervision of Park Board staff will continue their work in our centres if they wish. Many of these individuals have been involved for years delivering services through our community centres and will have the option to transition their contracts or employment relationships to the Park Board following the end of the JOAs on December 31 - no change.
  • Many groups and individuals have made plans to rent rooms and other facilities in the six community centres over the coming year for family or special events - all of these arrangements will carry on and be honored by the Park Board – no change.
  • The six CCAs, in collaboration with Park Board, have received grant funding from various sources for programs throughout the remainder of 2013 and into 2014. CCAs will continue to be involved in current grants that extend past the end of the JOA into 2014.  The Park Board will  ensure  no grant programs are impacted as a result of this transition  – no change.
  • The many affiliate clubs and sporting organizations who have relationships with the six CCAs will continue to have access to the community centres and Park Board staff  will be working with them to rearrange their contracts with the Park Board – no change.
  • All volunteers currently involved with the Association or the centre will be welcome to continue working with the Park Board staff as usual for the benefit of the community – no change.
  • All community centre generated revenues from the six centres (approximately $7M annually) will continue to be invested in the local community centres - no change.

Park Board Staff will be working with the 6 CCAs to ensure a smooth and seamless transition which puts access for all and continuity of programs and services for the public as the highest priority. Negotiations with the 16 Associations represented by the Associations’ Presidents Group negotiating committee will continue toward a new JOA by December 31, 2013 as directed by the Park Board.
 
In the meantime, the Park Board will be vigorously defending the legal actions brought by Killarney, Kerrisdale, Kensington, Sunset, Hastings and Hillcrest CCAs. The relationship being sought in a new JOA is a modern agreement aligned with the Park Board’s Strategic Plan and the four principles outlined above – all of which is designed to better serve our growing and diverse community.
 
Sarah Blyth
Chair, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

Media contact:
Vancouver Park Board Communications
604-257-8699