Back in December, I asked readers if they had any comments or concerns regarding the way their community centres are being operated in light of the ongoing conflict between some community centre associations and the park board regarding the proposed joint-operating agreement.
I heard from several readers, including Kerrisdale resident Sandra Clarke who offered her “two cents.”
The feisty senior has been enjoying programs, such as chair yoga, at the Kerrisdale Community Centre for the past five years. She’s concerned about possible changes to the way programs are offered at the centre because the courses she’s taking are unique to Kerrisdale. That centre’s community centre association has come under fire by the park board for refusing to accept Flexipasses at its fitness centre. The association argues it paid for the fitness centre, so it should be available for members first. Some associations also argue that because they act as non-profits, they’re able to apply for government grants and loans. The new proposed joint-operating agreement would funnel profits from programs to the park board, eliminating the association’s ability to raise charitable funds.
Clarke is worried the Vision Vancouver-dominated park board will “fix something that ain’t broke,” and her vital fitness programs will be eliminated.
“To go to another centre would be extremely inconvenient and require that I rely on HandyDart, which is extremely unreliable if available at all,” wrote Clarke. “I am independent and enjoy the company of like-minded ‘friends’ who would be in the same situation as I if the courses changed.”
Clarke adds, while the city continues to pour money into bike lanes, there’s little being done to assist seniors.
“Sorry, if I sound so negative, which I usually am not,” wrote Clarke. “But I try to be self-sufficient, doing as much as I can myself, laughing a lot, but I really get bugged when somebody can’t budget properly and overspends.”
I also received a letter from someone who signed his or her anonymous email, “Average Joe.”
Mr. Joe, who claims to have no affiliation with the park board, says community centre associations have an advantage over other non-profits in the city in that they have dedicated city staff working for them. He adds these centres are fortunate in that the park board pays for the heat, light and maintenance for rentals facilities so should in fact be entitled to the profits from them as it’s proposing. Traditionally, the associations have kept these profits to use for programs, which is why Clarke is so concerned about any changes.
“The central issue for me,” Average Joe writes, “is that the boards have de facto control over city resources without having been elected by citizens. Also, so isn’t it self perpetuating ... richer areas can pay for more programs, more funds are raised, then bigger and better facilities built, then more revenue ... etc.”
It’s too bad Average Joe didn’t sign his real name to his email because he appears to have a significant working knowledge of community centre associations and the park board.
He finished his email with this comment, “Now the grab for power from the city is just that ... but then aren’t they the elected ones? Not saying it would be better but the current set up is flawed, so something has to be worked out so that neighbourhoods are involved, but public interests must be maintained. Yes volunteers are hard working … but is this the best way of doing things?”