Vancouver Community Centres play a crucial role in each of our neighbourhoods. We offer a range of recreational, social and cultural activities for residents. This includes helping our members to stay in shape and learn new skills – in many areas such as fitness, arts and crafts, culture and more. A community centre brings people together to meet new friends, catch up with old ones, and to engage on a social level. And, of course, there are several programs such as child care, senior’s bus trips, parent and tot program, summer day camps for youth just to name a few, that provide much-needed support to the people who come to our centres. We are at the heart of our communities – and for some, we are at the centre of their social interaction.
Each community centre’s programs are developed to meet the needs of its unique community. The programs and events that are delivered aren’t “cookie cutter” ones that are run in every centre across Vancouver (although, community centres often share their knowledge and expertise with others who are interested in similar programs or topics). Depending on the neighbourhood – let’s say there are many seniors in one area or perhaps young families in another – the programs would reflect what the people in that specific community want and need. The great thing is, if there is a program at a community centre that isn’t the one in your neighbourhood, you are absolutely welcome to go to that centre and take the program.
What many people don’t realize is that community centres are managed by Community Centre Associations (CCAs) – and that both the community centres and CCAs are run by volunteers. These volunteers are dedicated to their communities and they take time away from their own lives – from family, friends and leisure time – to help run the community centre, either by actively volunteering at the centre, by running in an annual election, being on the board, or by participating in one of the varied committees that help support the organization’s vision and mission.
Vancouver’s community centres are run in a collaborative operational model, which is progressive and encourages and ensures the engagement and participation of residents in the operation of their local centre. In fact, Vancouver’s CCA model is so good, other municipalities around the world are working to replicate it. They are doing this not only because it ensures that the community’s needs are being met, but that it also directly engages in meaningful and effective volunteerism. That is something to be proud of, Vancouver!