Another issue that needs to be addressed in the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) is the Park Board’s ability to evict a Community Centre Association (CCA). You can read more about it here.
The Park Board has acknowledged that this is a serious issue and has put forward proposed changes to the JOA and we are currently reviewing it with our legal counsel. In the meantime, we want to provide a bit more information as to why this is such a serious issue and why it needed to be addressed.
CCAs exist exclusively to serve their communities through their community centres. Each community centre acts as a “home away from home” for many in the neighbourhood. It’s more than a place to take a class (as great as that is); it’s also a place to congregate and connect, to meet new friends and catch up with old ones. For many people, community centres are an important part of their social interaction.
New families (who have come to Vancouver from other countries), seniors and youth come to community centres and engage with one another through a range of activities. For example, for many youth, their local community centre is a place they can go and hang out with their peers in a safe environment.
A community centre is the heart of the community. It’s not just a “facility” – it is a place where everyone is made to feel that they belong and are welcome.
Community centres are run by the Park Board and the CCA in partnership. In fact, this is what the JOA is all about.
Take Hastings Community Association (HCA) for example. HCA has a historical and financial role at the community centre. In 1936, HCA built the original community hall – which the current community centre is situated around and which now houses HCA’s child care programs. They built the community hall entirely from their own funds, as well as donated funds – money they raised themselves. The Park Board did not cover any of those costs.
HCA has also paid for many additions to the facility – such as the elevator. And HCA has paid for all of the equipment and the furniture in the building. They have been involved in making the facility better, improving it, and working to make it more comfortable and useful for the community for over 80 years.
The CCAs are not saying that there shouldn’t be a termination or eviction clause in the JOA. What is being said is that termination or eviction should only be used when necessary and for specific and serious issues. It is not something to be taken lightly.
The language in the JOA is much too general and vague, and it could be misused, misinterpreted or exploited. A contract – which is what the JOA is – must be specific so that both parties can agree on how the clauses will be applied. There can be no grey area here.
CCAs have spent decades investing in the facilities they are in – from putting in elevators to providing and taking care of the furniture and equipment. They should have the ability to be addressed as true partners within the JOA, not as service providers that are expendable for unclear reasons not specifically defined in their agreement.