As many of you know, some Community Centre Associations have chosen to sign the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with the Park Board. We have received several questions about how we feel about this. We’d like to tell you exactly how we feel.
Each CCA is different and serves a unique community. Each CCA board is made up of engaged community members, and the decision to sign or not sign is made because the board members feel that their decision is in the best interest of their community, their community centre and their CCA. Some community centres have decided to sign the agreement while we continue to negotiate with the Park Board to address the six serious issues in the JOA. That is their right – and we respect their decision.
In addition, many of these CCAs that have signed the JOA don’t have the layer of security that we do – which is because of a court injunction stemming from a 2013 lawsuit was filed against the Park Board. The injunction says that the CCAs involved in the lawsuit (which includes Hastings Community Association, Kerrisdale Community Centre Society and Killarney Community Centre Society) can’t be evicted from our community centres. This provides us with the ability to push back harder to get the Park Board to address all of the issues that have been identified in the JOA (and which the Park Board has acknowledged).
At this moment, we believe that the Park Board is acting in good faith and – like us – they want to get through this process and get a JOA that we can recommend to our boards to sign. We want to create a positive outcome for what has been a long, difficult and drawn-out process.
Currently, the court injunction and the lawsuit sit quietly in the background. It isn’t a part of the negotiation process – and it shouldn’t be right now. This phase of the negotiation of the JOA is about addressing each of the six serious issues in the document through the appendices – and that is what we are doing.
Having said that, the injunction means that the three of our CCAs have the ability to hold the Park Board accountable and to continue in our higher-profile role to push for the best possible outcome for the JOA. What we are working towards will benefit other CCAs – even those who have signed. The Park Board has publicly stated that changes made to one CCA’s appendices can be made to another CCA’s, if the CCA requests it. We speak with other CCA presidents, board members and representatives on a regular basis – they are closely monitoring our negotiations with the Park Board. They support us and they care about how these serious issues are addressed in the appendices.
What we can tell you – is that three of us aren’t going anywhere until we get a JOA that works for our diverse communities, that addresses the six serious issues in the agreement to the satisfaction of all involved, and that we can recommend to our respective boards to sign.
We are cautiously hopeful – and will keep you posted.