New Year, New JOA? We Hope So

After thousands of hours of negotiation, through meetings between CCAs and with CCAs and Park Board staff and lawyers, facilitated (by Park Board) workshops – as well as CCA working groups, meetings, review of documents, research and providing our input – we feel like we are closer than we have ever been to having a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) that will work for the Park Board and our CCAs. As many of you know, this has not been easy. If we are able to make the one important change to the appendices and work out our more straightforward location-specific appendices, we can take this agreement to our respective board members for a vote.

We’re Still Standing… and Fighting

Kerrisdale Community Centre Society, Killarney Community Centre Society and Hastings Community Association have taken the lead on pushing back against the Park Board over the past several months. Each of us has a mandate from our community to get a JOA that works and we take that responsibility seriously. And, of course, there is the fact that the three of us are a part of a court injunction, which provides us with an additional layer of protection because we can’t be evicted as a result of this injunction.

Taking the lead is something that each of our CCAs is accustomed to doing. Many of the CCAs – even those who have signed or agreed to sign – are watching what is happening between us and the Park Board closely. You see, any revisions to the appendices that are done for us can be applied to their agreement as well, if they want it.

Community Engagement and Support Is Key

As we turn what we hope will be the final corner in this long and tough battle to get a JOA that respects the diverse communities and CCAs of Vancouver, we want to acknowledge how important our communities have been in this fight. Your willingness to support us – by coming to meetings, by communicating with Park Board Commissioners, by sending e-mails, tweets and calling the Park Board – gave us the energy and resolve to keep pushing forward on behalf of our communities.

There were many days when we were down or discouraged or just flat out frustrated at what we believe was an ineffective, unbalanced negotiation process – and your support re-energized us. Whether it was a passing comment at our community centre from a member, someone giving us a call, or showing up when we needed you – we want you to know how much that meant. While some might call our three CCAs “a pain in the neck,” we always felt that we were on the side of what was right for our communities – and that came from you. You gave us the push we needed to keep fighting – and we still are. There is one more change we need to see before we can move to the more straightforward elements specific to each of our community centres. And because of your continued support, we know that we have the strength to push until we get that language changed. Thank you for everything. We are so proud of how each of our communities stepped up, leaned in, and showed up to support the CCAs.

We will keep you posted on the Park Board’s response to our required change. We hope to hear from them this week.