The three changes we want made to the JOA are reasonable. And they have real world applications for our CCAs and for other CCAs who are closely monitoring this situation. You see, if the Park Board will work with us and make these straightforward changes – all CCAs will have the ability to have these changes made too.
A current situation that is facing Killarney Community Centre Society is that they are in the process of getting a Seniors’ Centre. This is a great thing for their community. The Killarney Community Centre Society and its members have been working towards this for years. The CCA has worked hard to raise a substantial amount of money through grants and other means – we’re talking $1.5 million – most of which is earmarked to go to the Seniors’ Centre (especially to run the hot lunch program, which is a highly anticipated initiative). It is a substantial contribution that they are making to the Seniors’ Centre in support of what has come from the City of Vancouver.
Right now, the way the JOA is worded, when the Seniors’ Centre is built, the Park Board will have the ability to decide that the Killarney Community Centre Society should not run the Seniors’ Centre in partnership with them. All they need to show is that they have “reasonable concerns” – there is no defined criteria for what “reasonable concerns” means. Killarney could be doing something that makes complete sense in the community and if the Park Board doesn’t agree with it, misunderstands what they are doing, or decides to punish Killarney Community Centre Society for continuing to be a strong, vocal voice that criticizes the Park Board, they can deny them access to the Seniors’ Centre. And – the concerns that the Park Board can use in a situation like this could have happened PRIOR to this agreement being signed. The Park Board could go back years to find something that they can then say causes them “reasonable concerns.”
This provides the Park Board with unchecked power, especially given that the Seniors’ Centre is currently being built and that Killarney is a strong, outspoken voice for the community, that criticizes the Park Board when they feel that it is required.
It is important to have this type of clause in an agreement. We support that. We just want it to be clearly defined so that it can’t be applied because of a misunderstanding, miscommunication, misperception or an abuse of power. We want to work with the Park Board staff to come up with language that defines the criteria that we both find satisfactory. Right now, the Park Board is refusing to work with us on this – they have said that they aren’t open to any changes to this language. That’s not good enough.
You can see the entire section and our proposed changes highlighted in red here.