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Roll-out of Vancouver Park Board's OneCard 'ill-thought out'

'OneCard' program to replace individual centre memberships

Killarney Community Centre Association president Ainslie Kwan said shes confused by a new system-wide membership card being rolled out by the park board, which will allow access to 22 community centres as well as the citys pools, rinks and gyms.

The park board announced this week its launching the OneCard, which will eventually replace individual community centre memberships. Until now, each centre had its own membership cards. The OneCard program is being introduced at some community centres July 8, and depending on whether its ratified, at the remaining facilities in September.

We have always endorsed the principles behind the OneCard program, said Kwan. But the way they rolled it out shows how ill-thought out this was.

Kwan explained that in order to qualify as a non-profit society, according to the provincial Societys Act, a group must have a membership list. To continue to qualify, the association recommended to the park board that facilities be open to anyone with a valid membership from any centre, she said.

But, now users wont need to be a member because, The park board says I dont have to be, said Kwan.

The park board has agreed to reimburse community centre associations for the loss of membership revenues. Killarney charges $4 per adult, $8 a family and $3 for seniors for a total of about $20,000 a year.

Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Niki Sharma is convinced the OneCard program is much needed and will be well received. Sharma added the goal is to provide universal access to all park board facilities.

Now every centre will have one card instead of a patchwork of cards, said Sharma. Right now there are 20 different cards with differing levels of memberships.

Sharma noted the OneCard program is a standard in many municipalities and universities across Canada. She added it also allows residents living on low or fixed incomes more dignity when presenting their card for entrance to a community centre.

They dont have to use a special card and it allows them more respect, said Sharma.

The OneCard is just one component of a joint operating agreement under discussion with 12 of the citys 20 community centre associations. Killarney has refused to enter into those discussions due to disagreements over the proposed joint operating agreement.

But Dave Pasin, a board member of the West End Community Centre Association in negotiations with the park board, said hes also confused by the program.

I dont think theres anyone who has a problem with universal access, said Dave Pasin. Access is critical. But however, the way the park board has done it is straight out of Bizarro World.

Pasin, who was unsuccessful in a bid for an NPA park board seat in the last municipal election, said the criteria and costs of the program are so vague its obvious it was rolled out last minute. The park board said publicly that negotiations with the community centre associations should be completed by July, but there is still much work to be done. Pasin believes the park board was under pressure to roll anything out before that deadline, so came up with the OneCard. He also questioned the timing of the announcement.

They released it at 11 oclock at night to minimize the damage, said Pasin. Its like the government making bad news announcements at 4 oclock on a Friday afternoon. They hope by Monday everyone will have forgotten about it.

sthomas@vancourier.com

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