CCAs say Park Board Commissioners are jeopardizing JOA by giving staff too much control of the process
Three CCAs – Hastings Community Association, Kerrisdale Community Centre Society and Killarney Community Centre Society – are stating that any hope of getting a signed JOA is in serious jeopardy. They say Commissioners have essentially abandoned the process, allowing the Park Board General Manager to set an often hostile and aggressive tone, which has created a non-collaborative, inflexible and disrespectful process. There is increasing concern, mistrust and frustration among the CCAs regarding the Park Board’s overall objectives for the process.
CCA legal counsel says the extensive and confusing revisions to the appendices of the document are ineffective – and likely unenforceable – in addressing the six serious areas of concern in the JOA identified by the CCAs and acknowledged by the Park Board.
The CCAs are calling for Park Board Commissioners to:
- Step in and provide much needed leadership in this process;
- Put politics aside; and
- Place the needs of Vancouver communities first and get the JOA done right.
To date, six CCAs out of 20 have signed the agreement. The Park Board’s constant messaging that the process is positive and that a signed agreement is close does not reflect the truth of the situation.
Last week, staff offered CCAs the opportunity (which CCAs have been requesting for close to a year) for legal counsel from both sides to meet to address the issues. Due to a scheduling conflict, this was changed to a phone meeting. Unexpectedly, staff unilaterally decided that there would be no meeting. Instead, a City of Vancouver lawyer sent a letter dismissing the CCA’s concerns.
Recommended solutions by staff to be put in the appendices are overly complicated. The CCAs are left having to take Park Board decisions as final, with no opportunity for discussion, collaboration or compromise. It has been made clear that if the ideas of the CCAs don’t fit with what staff is trying to push through regarding the JOA, the CCA ideas are disregarded. The CCAs are not seen as partners, but as incidental and uncooperative service providers who are expendable and can be evicted, if necessary.
The 50+ page JOA is now so complicated that the addition of extensive and complex appendices makes it probable that disagreements or issues between the two parties will end in arbitration or litigation. This would be costly and time-consuming.
Legal counsel for the CCAs advises that one area of the body of the JOA needs to be changed. The JOA must specifically address that, in the case of ambiguity between the JOA and the appendices (currently being negotiated by the Park Board and individual associations), the appendices will prevail and that the appendices form part of the JOA. The Park Board staff have refused to consider this simple change – which would result in a signed agreement once the details in the appendices are finalized. To date, staff have not presented this option to Commissioners for their consideration.
Hastings, Kerrisdale and Killarney – each with mandates from their communities and boards of directors to reject the current proposed JOA – are involved in a pending lawsuit, launched in 2013. They have stepped into a higher-profile role in demanding that the Park Board work with CCAs to get an agreement that works for the communities of Vancouver – not just for the Park Board. An injunction issued in 2014 provides protection to the CCAs involved in the lawsuit regarding the Park Board’s ability to evict them from their community centres. These three CCAs say that this protection has allowed them to step forward more publicly to demand a reasonable agreement for all CCAs. Many other CCAs (that don’t have injunctive protection from eviction) are closely monitoring the situation and providing input, support and encouragement behind the scenes.
The CCAs are demanding that staff fulfill their professional obligations and present this option to Commissioners as a viable solution to the obstacles in reaching a signed JOA, giving the decision-making and leadership role back to Commissioners – where it belongs.
Hastings Community Association
Kerrisdale Community Centre Society
Killarney Community Centre Society
You can see the letter submitted to Commissioners on October 23, 2017 by CCAs here.
To see a letter by a group of 10 CCAs to Commissioners on October 16, 2017, please click here.