The Georgia Straight - - Straight Talk - > CAR­L­ITO PABLO

A ma­jor­ity of com­mu­nity-cen­tre as­so­ci­a­tions did not com­ply with the Septem­ber 30, 2017, dead­line to sign a new deal with the Van­cou­ver park board.

Only six of the 19 as­so­ci­a­tions that were of­fered an up­dated joint oper­at­ing agree­ment for the man­age­ment of recre­ation cen­tres across the city have ac­cepted the con­tract. These are the neigh­bour­hood groups based in Mar­pole, Dou­glas Park, Strath­cona, Thun­der­bird, Round­house, and Dun­bar.

Ainslie Kwan is a former pres­i­dent of the Kil­lar­ney Com­mu­nity Cen­tre So­ci­ety, one of the groups that did not sign the agree­ment over con­cerns it gives too much power to the park board.

“Some of the lan­guage is quite strong and does im­pede on our independence,” Kwan told the Straight in a phone in­ter­view.

Kwan cited as ex­am­ples pro­vi­sions that al­low the park board to ar­bi­trar­ily ter­mi­nate the agree­ment and evict com­mu­nity-cen­tre as­so­ci­a­tions.

“It’s about, you know, ac­knowl­edg­ing the 60- to 70-year re­la­tion­ship that we had with the park board and how do we con­tinue to move that for­ward in a re­spect­ful way,” Kwan said.

The City of Van­cou­ver has been try­ing since the 1990s to up­date its re­la­tion­ship with com­mu­nity-cen­tre as­so­ci­a­tions that de­liver pro­grams in recre­ation cen­tres owned by the

mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Most of the agree­ments date back to 1979.

In 2013, the park board tried to kick out six “rebel” com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tions—kil­lar­ney, Hast­ings, Kens­ing­ton, Ker­ris­dale, Ri­ley Park Hill­crest, and Sun­set—but was stopped by a court in­junc­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Kwan, com­mu­ni­ty­cen­tre as­so­ci­a­tions have re­ceived changes in the agree­ment that were re­cently pro­posed by park-board staff in re­sponse to con­cerns about the deal. The groups have sought le­gal ad­vice on these amend­ments.

“We’re now wait­ing to hear back [from lawyers]…if that lan­guage is suf­fi­cient enough to sat­isfy the con­cerns that we have,” Kwan said.

At its meet­ing Mon­day (October 2), the park board re­ceived a quick up­date from staff about the sta­tus of the new joint oper­at­ing agree­ments.

In an in­ter­view the day after the meet­ing, park com­mis­sioner Sarah Kirby-yung said that staff are work­ing with the com­mu­ni­ty­cen­tre as­so­ci­a­tions that have not ap­proved the con­tract.

The new agree­ment is sup­posed to take ef­fect on Jan­uary 1, 2018, and com­mu­nity-cen­tre as­so­ci­a­tions with­out an agree­ment will likely face ex­pul­sion.

Asked what is go­ing to hap­pen to as­so­ci­a­tions that will not en­ter into a deal with the park board, Kirby-yung told the Straight by phone: “I think we’re go­ing to end up with the ma­jor­ity of cen­tres signed on to the joint oper­at­ing agree­ment, be­cause we’ve had some re­ally pos­i­tive re­sponse.”

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