Vancouver has 21 community centres that are run in partnership with the Vancouver Park Board and individual Community Centre Associations (CCAs). This partnership is formalized through a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA). The JOA is a legal contract that defines the roles and responsibilities of the Park Board and each CCA as they relate to the operation of each Community Centre.
The new JOA, which is currently being developed, is the foundation of how the CCA and the Park Board will work together for the next 15 years.
The most recent draft has been identified as “amended final” by the Park Board, but it does not meet the needs of our unique and diverse communities.
For the CCA presidents to recommend this to their respective boards of directors, revisions need to be made to the existing draft of the JOA.
Why This Matters to You
Community centres serve an important purpose in each of Vancouver’s unique communities. For more than 70 years, they have been at the heart of a neighbourhood – a community centre is where people come together, meet, connect, learn, engage and socialize. It is a crucial part of who we are, in each of our vibrant and diverse communities in Vancouver.
The JOA that the Park Board is expecting the CCAs to sign would affect the ability of each of the CCAs to:
- Tailor programs, services and scheduling to the specific needs of each unique and diverse community served by a CCA
- Keep your fees affordable – additional costs, which the proposed JOA includes, will result in increases in the prices of programs
- Subsidize family, youth and seniors’ programming
- Contribute to future capital projects such as the building of a new community centre
- Represent the local community’s interests
- Put money aside to buy major equipment and replace furnishings at the community centre and contribute to community projects
- Plan effectively (as the Park Board can approve and implement policies at any time that could alter the terms and conditions of the agreement)
A group of CCAs have come together, over hundreds of hours of evenings and weekends (that took us – volunteers – away from our family, friends and personal lives), to develop an in-depth proposal that we submitted to the Park Board in early November. You can download a pdf of our proposal here.
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Unfortunately, the most recent draft of the JOA does not include several key elements that were put forward in our proposal. The concerns that we have with the current JOA are:
Provisions for termination of the relationship
The proposal gives the Park Board at least five ways to terminate the CCA or aspects of the agreement, with little recourse by the CCA. Of greatest concern, the CCA may be terminated if it does not comply with as yet unspecified Park Board directives. We feel that this creates a threatening environment for our organizations.
Dispute resolution process
We are happy to see that there is a dispute resolution clause in the agreement, but we find it to be too one-sided. In some cases, it allows the body that sets the policy to be the one that adjudicates the use of the policy. We believe that the way that the proposed agreement is written will lead to a more litigious relationship. We would like to see changes that make the Park Board as accountable as the CCAs.
Currently, individual CCAs decide on their own membership models. The current membership model enables community engagement and local decision making, both vital for reflecting the interests of each neighbourhood at its local community centre. This proposed agreement is designed to inhibit the level of membership. The Park Board has rejected the CCAs’ proposal that, where required for participation in a program, memberships will be provided free of cost.
The proposed JOA asks that each CCA pay a substantial fee to the Park Board for use of the community centre. This money will be put into a “Community Centre Investment Fund” which will then be spent at the discretion of the Park Board. The Park Board has told CCAs that the amount of this payment will increase in five years.
If CCAs will need to increase costs to our membership at each of our local community centres in order to pay into the fund, then we want input as to where this money is going. We want to be assured that this money will be used to help support other CCAs whose communities have greater needs.
Association governance and autonomy
The proposed JOA infringes on the ability of each CCA to conduct its operations independently, and contains provisions that potentially put CCAs in violation of the Income Tax and Societies Acts. It also limits each one’s ability to represent the interests of its local community, without fear of reprisal.
This proposed agreement removes the authority of the CCA to determine how, where and when money, raised by the community and the Association, is to be spent.
The December 1, 2016 and January 13, 2017 proposals also contain material that was not provided to the CCAs during the consultation process. Several of these components require that the CCAs get legal advice to determine their potential impact.