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Community centres closer to agreement with park board

The Vancouver Park Board is another step closer to having a new joint operating agreement with the city’s community centre associations.
kerrisdale community centre
Kerrisdale and several other community centre associations have asked for an extension on signing the joint operating agreement with the Vancouver Park Board after the board proposed some changes to the language of the document.

The Vancouver Park Board is another step closer to having a new joint operating agreement with the city’s community centre associations.

In April, after a year of consultation, park board commissioners voted to approve the joint operating agreement and gave the community centre associations (CCAs) a signing deadline of Sept. 30.

Donnie Rosa, director of recreation, Monday night reported that six associations — Marpole, Douglas Park, Strathcona, Thunderbird, Roundhouse and Dunbar — signed the agreement before the deadline. Another four — False Creek, West End/Coal Harbour, West Point Grey and Trout Lake — have approved it in principal and are reviewing the appendices before finalizing the agreement.

And eight — Champlain Heights, Hastings, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Killarney, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant and Renfrew — have asked for an extension to review some proposed language changes.

Last week, the park board proposed changes in some of the language in the agreement to address the six outstanding concerns raised by a group of the CCAs.

Sherry Breshears, president of the Hastings Community Association, said the change in language is a positive step.

“To me it was a sign that they acknowledged that our six concerns were valid and reasonable and needed to be addressed,” she said. “I thought that was a good sign from the park board.”

The proposed changes were sent to the CCAs last Wednesday, just a few days before the Sept. 30 deadline. Breshears said her associations, along with others, have asked for additional time to review the proposed changes before making a decision on signing.

“We’re looking at it and we’re asking out lawyer to look at it. We’re just conducting our due diligence and looking at the proposal and seeing if it will work for us and how it will work for us.”

Several of the CCAs, including Hastings, Kerrisdale and Killarney, voted last month to not sign the JOA unless the outstanding issues were addressed.

In early September, 12 of the associations penned a letter to the board outlining a number of outstanding concerns around the agreement — among others, they say the proposed agreement infringes on the autonomy of the CCAs, gives the board the ability to evict an association from all or part of a community centre and does not reflect the board’s responsibility to provide recreation programs and services.

Rosa said that more recent conversations with the CCAs have helped pinpoint the root of the concerns.

“We’ve had some healthy, healthy discussions, especially in the last couple of weeks,” she told park board commissioners Monday night. “The CCA presidents and representatives have been very forthcoming. We’ve been talking about the six issues that they brought to our attention and it was really helpful to get to the root of what their concerns were so we could actually close the gap on those concerns. So many have expressed that they’re very excited about the new language in the appendices.”

Rosa added that the board made some substantial clarifications to the language. For example, one of the concerns raised was that the agreement did not include a clause that at the end of the initial term both parties would attempt to negotiate another agreement in good faith.

She said the proposed change in language addresses that and give assurances that negotiations will start prior to the end of the agreement’s term.

“In the last two weeks I feel like we’ve really turned a corner,” she said.

The new JOA goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

@JessicaEKerr

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