(Vancouver, February 4, 2013) Regarding the current debate about the Vancouver Park Board’s efforts to centralize control of Community Centre Associations, Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver wishes to express its support for the independence of CCAs to control their own programming and pricing models.
We believe that a one-size-fits-all approach being proposed by the Park Board will not work well, as each centre deals with different costs and different needs. Past cuts by the City of Vancouver to Park Board funding are one factor that brought this situation to a head. Rather than bringing all CCAs down to the lowest common denominator, it would make sense to restore public funding to previous levels, and to provide extra help to those community centres that have problems. The City must also recognize and appreciate the motivation of the volunteers who run the CCAs. The top-down approach now being attempted will result in fewer services, less motivation, and higher costs. We discourage any further erosion of Park Board autonomy or centralization of power to the City Manager and Council.
Recent community meetings in Kerrisdale and Killarney show the strong community support for the CCAs under the current model. Many speakers confirmed this. For example, Ainslie Kwan, President of the Killarney Community Centre Society, makes a good case for the CCAs (http://youtu.be/nUtcgSw9ejg) (11 minutes).
Vancouver has one of the best community centre systems in the world. This is due in large part to improvements and innovations initiated by individual CCAs that were subsequently adopted by other centres. Centralized control over revenue and programming would cramp diversity and creativity, crippling our ability to adapt and serve the evolving needs of our neighbourhoods and the city as a whole.
NSV believes in having decision-making done as close to the community as possible. We believe in grassroots, neighbourhood-based civic government. We encourage the City and Park Board to respect neighbourhoods, and urge the City and Park Board to work in good faith with the Community Centre Associations to find mutually acceptable solutions.
Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver
NOTE that the Parks Board has set an “emergency meeting” Monday, February 4, 2013 at the West End Community Centre. The agenda is here in PDF download. The Parks Board released its presentation online on the “Community Centre Association Partnership Agreement” here in PDF download. Starting on page 20 the report recommends the Park Board / City Hall takeover of all CC programming and finances. Though not stated on the agenda, we have heard, unconfirmed, that the Parks Board intends to do a final vote this very night. The Parks Board proposals are a fundamental change in the operation of the City and the Board and deserve everyone’s attention.
NOTE also that where we say that Vancouver has one of the best community centre systems in the world, this is due in large part to improvements and innovations initiated by individual CCAs that were subsequently adopted by other centres. Centralized control over revenue and programming would cramp diversity and creativity, crippling our ability to adapt and serve the evolving needs of our neighbourhoods and the city as a whole.
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