Without question, the major issue facing the Kerrisdale Community Centre Society this past year has been seeking agreement with Park Board on a new Joint Operating Agreement (JOA).
Our community centre is jointly managed by the Kerrisdale Community Centre Society (KCCS) and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation under the terms of a contract (the JOA) signed in 1979. It lays out the rights and responsibilities of the Park Board and the local community centre association in the operation of its community centre. The early planners of Vancouver’s community centre system believed that the best service to each of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods would be achieved if each community played an active role in managing its community centre. This community, through the Kerrisdale Community Centre Society, has invested much time, energy and money in the Kerrisdale Community Centre for over 70 years and has a vital role in its operations!
Since the early 2000s, the Park Board and community centre associations in the city have attempted numerous times to find common ground to update the agreement. Park Board has made various attempts since 2010 to control programs offered at all community centres and access funds belonging to the Associations. Park Board served notice in September 2013 to terminate the JOA and take over operations at Kerrisdale and other centres. A small group of Associations, including the Kerrisdale Community Centre Society (KCCS), won a court injunction prohibiting the Park Board from terminating the JOA, or changing operations, until a future court hearing. Since then, there have been several unsuccessful attempts by different groups of Community Centre Associations (CCAs) to negotiate a new JOA with Park Board.
In the 2014 civic election campaign, the NPA and Green party candidates for Park Board promised that, if elected, they would achieve a more effective working relationship with Vancouver’s community centre associations (CCAs) and a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) that meets the needs of the CCAs as well as the Park Board.
APRIL 2016: A NEW JOA PROCESS
At the end of April, the Park Board Chair announced “The New Way Forward,” a consultation process designed to achieve a new Joint Operating Agreement by November 2016. The Chair said that as negotiations between the Park Board and the community centres over the past years had not reached an agreement, a different approach was needed.
Sadly, continuing the character of previous processes, this one has been designed and driven by the Park Board which, unilaterally, chose the facilitator, set the agenda, and decided on the process and time frame. Most of the content and even the language varied little from earlier Park Board material. While “The New Way Forward” was defined as a consultation model, the CCAs were told from the beginning that the Park Board would only be selecting feedback that “made sense” to them to include in the final proposal.
The Park Board Chair also stated that the elected Commissioners would not meet with CCAs. Surely it is an important part of Commissioners’ fiduciary responsibility to gather information and perspectives from the CCAs, who are directly affected, as well as from Park Board staff before making their decision.
A group of volunteer Board members from fifteen CCAs came together over evenings and weekends in September and October to develop a JOA proposal that CCAs submitted– in good faith – to the Park Board in early November. There has been no communication with us from Park Board staff or elected Commissioners regarding this thoughtful, detailed proposal. It is notable that 15 community centres with diverse backgrounds, histories, sizes, and demographics came together as one voice to prepare a proposal that would work for all. Surprisingly, some commissioners told us they did not read it.
Since September, the Park Board has produced two JOA proposals (December 1, 2016 and January 13, 2017). Unfortunately neither included several key elements that were put forward in our proposal and both included significant material that was not part of the consultation process. Additional legal advice is required to determine their potential impact.
Our major concerns with the current JOA are:
· Provisions for termination of the relationship
The proposal gives the Park Board at least five ways to terminate the CCA with little opportunity for recourse by the CCA. Of greatest concern, the CCA may be terminated if it is not in compliance with as yet unspecified Park Board directives. This creates a threatening environment for CCAs. Of particular concern, at the end of a 15-year period (three five-year terms) the relationship between the Park Board and the Community Centre Associations will end, with no provision for renewal.
· Dispute resolution process
We are happy to see that there is an improved dispute resolution clause in the agreement, albeit a one-sided one. In some cases, it allows the body that sets a policy or direction to be the one that adjudicates the use of the policy.
CCAs have proposed that, where required for participation in a program, memberships will be provided free of cost to be as inclusive as possible. Memberships are essential for volunteer-run societies that attract a large amount of grant and donation money into the community centre system. The membership model facilitates community engagement and local decision-making, which is vital in reflecting the interests of each neighbourhood at its local community centre.
· Financial costs
The proposed JOA requires that each CCA turn over to the Park Board substantial revenue earned at each community centre through the fees that members pay for programs and services. This money will be put into a “Community Centre Investment Fund” to be spent at the discretion of the Park Board. CCAs want to be assured that this money will be used to help support other CCAs whose communities have greater needs.
· Association governance and autonomy
The proposed JOA infringes on each CCA’s ability to conduct its operations independently. It also limits each one’s ability to represent the interests of its local community without fear of reprisal. Some conditions conflict with the Societies Act and others conflict with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (Canada). The proposed JOA allows the Park Board to approve and implement policies at any time that could alter the terms of the agreement. As proposed it is a contract that allows one party to change the terms and conditions at will.
Based on the material received from the Park Board thus far, a number of CCAs have indicated that they will be unlikely to sign the new Joint Operating Agreement. Park Board has advised that it will terminate joint operating agreements with those who do not. In the case of the six CCAs who have injunctions, Park Board plans to activate the court case we brought against them in 2013.
Why is this Important to You?
The Joint Operating Agreement is a legal contract defining the roles and responsibilities of both the Park Board and the Community Centre Association as they relate to the operation of the community centres. We need an agreement that allows the Kerrisdale Community Centre Society to provide programs and services that meet the needs of this community at appropriate pricing and scheduling, needed supplies and equipment, manage its internal affairs, and advocate for the recreation needs of this community.
Noteworthy achievements at Kerrisdale 2016
- A detailed assessment of the maintenance required to keep a building of Kerrisdale’s size and usage levels was undertaken by the Board and staff in response to Park Board reductions to the Kerrisdale Community Centre maintenance budget in 2015 and increased complaints about the lack of cleanliness in the community centre. As a result staffing levels at Kerrisdale were increased in 2016. It’s nice to see the results of some special cleaning and small repair initiatives undertaken to give our Centre a little more polish.
- New Recreation Software Agreement In 2014 the Park Board / City announced its intention to implement ActiveNet, but without any meaningful consultation with community centres to ensure that the new software would work effectively for CCAs. Throughout fall 2015 Kerrisdale, Killarney and Hastings CCAs met with Park Board staff to develop an agreement that will provide control of our revenue, timely and accurate reporting for operational management, and increased convenience to our patrons. A formal Active Net Agreement has now been signed with the City. This agreement has been offered to the rest of the City’s community centre associations (CCAs).
- Kerrisdale held successful Summer Day Camps again in 2016. The Summer Safaris for 6-10 year olds were 90% full for the entire summer with 433 registrants. Another 169 children enjoyed the Youth Adventure Camps for children age 11years and over; these were 88% full for the entire summer.
- The Board’s Needs Assessment Committee is reviewing the demographic profile of community, Kerrisdale’s current programs and services, and identifying other programs that the community desires. Thanks to the 774 Kerrisdale patrons who completed a Needs Assessment survey in the summer. We learned that over half of our patrons get their information from the program brochure; almost half our patrons come to the Centre two or three days each week; almost 60% live in the Kerrisdale area with another 25% coming from Dunbar, Kitsilano and Marpole-Oakridge; and 75% find our membership fees to be reasonable. It’s very encouraging to hear how often the word “friendly” is used when patrons talk about the Centre
- Kerrisdale Community Garden received some much needed funding from the Community Amenities Contributions (CACs) resulting from the rezoning of 7249 Cypress Street designated by City Council for community gardens in the Arbutus Ridge Kerrisdale Shaughnessy (ARKS) area. The Society thanks Jim Hall, ARKS Chair, who has been pursuing these sources of funding and keeping us aware of development initiatives in the community.
- The Society’s Youth Committee is involving a group of 25 youth from the community in activities that develop leadership skills while facilitating activities that benefit local youth.
- Extensive changes to our Constitution and By-laws necessitated by the new Societies Act (effective 28 November, 2016) will be presented to the membership at the Annual General Meeting, February 15, 2017 for approval.
- Dave Anthony was selected to be Kerrisdale Community Centre’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year. Since January of 2013, Dave has been facilitating Kerrisdale’s pickleball program for a growing number of keen pickleball players of all ages and ability levels.
- Artist in Residence Project in the Arena has artists lisa g nielsen and Rene Cherrie exploring the history of the Cyclone Taylor (Kerrisdale) Arena from its opening in 1949 to now. The Community is invited to collaborate to create an immersive video and sound installation within the Arena itself. Visit the project blog: http://kerrisdalearenarock.blogspot.ca. (November 2016 to June 2017.
The Kerrisdale Community Centre is the busiest community centre in Vancouver offering a broad array of programs to meet the needs of the Kerrisdale community and providing excellent service to our 12,661 members. We had 19,391 registrations in 3,384 programs from fall 2015 until summer 2016.
We said good bye to some familiar faces and welcomed new ones to Kerrisdale in 2016.
- The Society’s accountant, Norm Funk, retired in April after fifteen years of service to the Society and was replaced by Ali Mahdiyar who is ably managing the Society’s business affairs.
- In August, Erik Price, who had been acting Programmer II for 18 months, moved to a permanent position at West Point Grey Community Centre, and Kerrisdale welcomed Hardeep Bassram to Kerrisdale as our permanent Programmer II. Our thanks to Erik who spent several years at Kerrisdale in different roles. He will be missed.
- Bernard Lee joined the Kerrisdale staff as Pool Programmer in February replacing Denise Yeh who had left in late fall.
- Maegan Montemayor took over as West Regional Arena Programmer for Hillcrest, Kerrisdale, Kitsilano & West End Arenas from Leeza Woo in August.
Attracting and retaining energetic and committed Board members is an ongoing challenge, and essential to the Society’s health. We shall miss the Board members who left this past year, and look forward to the participation of those who have recently joined the Board and those standing for election at this AGM. We value all their contributions.
Direct participation by residents in the running of public recreation facilities is what makes Vancouver’s community centres truly centres of activities for the residents of each community. Be a proud member of the Kerrisdale Community Centre Society and continue to support our Society to ensure excellent programming chosen to meet the needs of our community. Consider joining the Board of Directors.
To find out what’s going on, check the Society bulletin boards in the main lobby and the seniors centre. Minutes of Board of Directors and major committees are accessible at: www.kerrisdalecc.com. This is your community centre. Send your thoughts about programs and services or the content of this message to email@example.com.