It has been – and continues to be – a long and difficult process that we have been forced to undertake to get a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) that works for the Park Board and our communities. For more than a year and a half, thousands of hours have been invested by Community Centre Association (CCA) Presidents, Board Members and other representatives in pushing to get a JOA that addresses the unique needs of the communities of Vancouver – and that provides the ability for the CCAs to effectively co-manage their community centres in partnership with the Park Board.
CCAs are run by volunteers. That’s right – volunteers. The CCA boards are elected by residents – members of the association. These are engaged, community-minded individuals who choose to invest their time and effort in helping to manage community centres with the Park Board. They take time away from their families and friends, most of them have full-time jobs, and many of them have school-aged children or grandchildren. And they save taxpayers millions of dollars by fundraising, applying for grants, and helping to operate and build the community capacity of each community centre.
Imagine if the thousands of hours that have been spent fighting for their communities, to get a JOA that works for the CCAs as well as the Park Board, had been spent focused on their individual communities through their CCA’s role. What a difference this could have made to each of the diverse communities in Vancouver.
It is important that we get a JOA that works that we can take to our respective boards and recommend that they sign. It’s crucial that we get through this process, that Park Board Commissioners step into that leadership position that they keep promising, and that staff work with us – in good faith and collaboratively – so that we can have a JOA that deals with the six key issues that the Park Board has acknowledged must be addressed. Then, and only then, can we begin to look at how we can rebuild the relationship between the CCAs and the Park Board.
We remain cautiously hopeful. We want to move forward. We hope that the Park Board does too and we will take steps in good faith to make sure that this happens.