More than half of the city’s community centres have signed a new agreement with Vancouver Park Board, however, several are still in negotiations.
Donnie Rosa, director of recreation, told the Courier this week that of the 19 centres offered the new joint operating agreement (JOA) 11 have signed while another seven were close to signing.
“Right now we’re working through some of the details with them,” she said. “We’re working out some of the wording with the appendices, not the body of the JOA but the appendices… and we’re very, very close, I feel within the next week or two, to coming to wherever it is we need to be.”
Last April, after a year of consultation, park board commissioners voted to approve the JOA and gave the community centre associations (CCAs) a signing deadline of Sept. 30, 2017.
The document is comprised of the main body of the agreement, which is the same for every community centre, and a series of appendices, which vary from centre to centre based on each facility’s specific needs. After several associations came forward with some outstanding concerns, board commissioners approved adding two clauses to the agreement that at least one association representative said brought the outstanding CCAs closer to signing.
“Those clauses were vital,” Ainslie Kwan, past president of Killarney Community Centre Society, said following the meeting in October. “It was a big step that we were able to get those clauses.”
For those that have signed, the new agreement went into effect Jan. 1.
Marpole, Douglas Park, Strathcona, Thunderbird, Roundhouse, Dunbar, False Creek, West End/Coal Harbour, West Point Grey, Trout Lake and Mount Pleasant, have signed the agreement, while Champlain Heights, Hastings, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Killarney, Kitsilano and Renfrew are still negotiating with the board.
Several CCAs delayed signing the document because there were a number of outstanding concerns with the agreement. Some of those concerns have since been addressed, but according to Sherry Breshears, president of the Hastings Community Association, there is still work that needs to be done.
“We’re still negotiating,” she said. “We’re still cautiously hopeful that we’ll reach an agreement soon but there’s a couple of issues that are important to the CCAs that are outstanding so we’re working on those.”
Breshears said the remaining issues primarily centre on some of the language in one section of the agreement that addresses any potential changes to jointly operated facilities.
“So we’re working on the appendices that would address that section of the joint operating agreement,” she said.
There are 24 community centres in the city and all but three are jointly operated by the park board and volunteer, non-profit associations.