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Park Board statement on Community Centre Associations’ legal matter

August 22 2013

Park Board office

The Vancouver Park Board believes we should have one single access card for all community centres, regardless of neighbourhood.

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): 

  • Access for all citizens
  • Access to a network of community centres
  • Equity among community centres
  • Operational sustainability and accountability

Over the past two years, Park Board staff have worked with all the CCAs towards a renewed agreement 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.

As a first step towards a new JOA, an interim agreement was negotiated in June 2013 which allowed the use of OneCard, to provide access, regardless of income, to all recreation programs and services across the network of Park Board facilities and community centres. OneCard was rolled out at all rinks, pools and Park Board operated fitness centres on July 8. On September 1, OneCard will be available for community centre programs and services in participating centres.

It is the goal of the Park Board to make the OneCard a no cost system-wide card for all residents to utilize the full network of recreation facilities in our city. OneCard replaces the requirement for the public to obtain up to 20 separate CCA memberships for access to programs and services across the network.

The interim agreement was supported by 16 of the 22 CCAs (including Ray-Cam and Britannia) in the Park Board system. Six Associations failed to ratify the interim agreement by the deadline of July 31, 2013 (Killarney, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Hastings, Sunset and Hillcrest).

On August 20, 2013, the six non- ratifying CCAs (Killarney, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Hastings, Sunset and Hillcrest) served notice to the City of Vancouver of a legal action to prevent the implementation of the OneCard along with other serious allegations and claims for damages in the millions of dollars. Their claim is a challenge to the right of the elected Park Board to set a public policy agenda on behalf of citizens. Even more concerning is their attempt to delay construction of a new child development centre on the Kensington centre and their claim that the Associations have a 50 per cent  interest in Park Board facilities, built with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars over the last decades.

These allegations are serious and the Park Board will be defending them in court.

Over the last months, there have been a number of statements made by representatives of the six dissenting CCAs that need to be clarified: 

  • The Park Board is not centralizing revenue. All facility generated revenue on an annual basis including registration and user fees from all community centre programs flow to the CCAs. This totals over $19M per year and constitutes nearly 90 per cent of their total Association revenues. There has been no change to this practice.
  • Park Board staff administer and implement all programs on behalf of CCAs to generate the above revenue. This has not changed.
  • The Park Board spends over $18M annually on the direct management, supervision, programming and maintenance of community centres across the network. This does not include pools, rinks, and Park Board fitness centres or other overhead.
  • Implementation of OneCard will not result in the cancellation of any programs. Programming decisions are made locally by CCA program committees in collaboration with Park Board staff. This has not changed.
  • Over the past 10 years, $143M of tax dollars have been invested to build and renew community centres, rinks and pools across the Park Board recreation system.
  • The interim agreement in no way precludes CCAs from signing up members to their Association and does not in any way impact their society status or their ability to raise funds. However, Association membership is no longer a requirement for registration for programs and services. Park Board staff continue to facilitate issuing of Association memberships.

The process of renewing the JOA began over a year ago with all CCAs participating. In February 2013 the six non-ratifying CCAs removed themselves from the process and declined to participate in negotiations despite repeated written invitations by the Park Board to join the negotiation table. Since the July 31 ratification deadline, two formal letters have been sent to the six CCAs to try to encourage them to revisit their decisions and implement the interim agreement, making the OneCard the passport to the whole network of community centres. Next steps for handling this matter will be discussed by the Park Board.

Staff have been directed to continue negotiations toward having a new JOA by December 31, 2013. In the meantime, the Park Board will be vigorously defending the legal action 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