Expensive community centre battle brewing
CTV British Columbia
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 11:23AM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 30, 2013 9:53PM PST
Several groups representing Vancouver community centres have started a campaign against a park board plans to harmonize the centres, launching a website and spending up to $200,000 on radio attack ads.
More than 500 people packed into the Kerrisdale Community Centre Tuesday night to voice their concerns over the proposal to share revenues across the city’s community centres.
Historically, community centres have been run by volunteer associations and the money they make stays in the community. But the Vancouver Park Board is hoping to centralize the system, with a single membership for all community centres and a single destination for revenue.
The changes would mean that money from room rentals and programs would flow back to the park board, which would redistribute the money between all the centres – including giving more money to the “have not” centres that don’t have a lot of existing revenue.
Park Board General Manager Malcolm Bromley, after being booed, told the crowd there are half a dozen struggling communities where community centre members struggle to pay their fees.
Jesse Johl, president of the Riley Park-Hillcrest Community Centre Association, is worried the money won’t be re-distributed properly, and could mean they have less cash to run programs.
“All that money will go to general revenue. And from there, well, we all know what happens to general revenue,” he told CTV British Columbia.
Vision Vancouver Park Commissioner Niki Sharma said she was “shocked and disappointed” to hear about the campaign again the board, because the money spent could have been used on programming in local communities.
She is hoping to reassure some of these concerned residents, saying the changes won’t mean cuts to existing programming.
“We would never do anything to destroy the sense of community in the centre, it's really just about making sure we have that everywhere in the city,” she said.
But not everyone is convinced. Park Board Commissioner Melissa De Genova told CTV News she’s listening closely to the negative community feedback.
"My vote will be influenced by the community and the community has come out tonight and they've told us that they don't want this. So I don't support this,” she said.
Park board members will continue to meet with community associations to discuss the proposed operating agreement, and then will vote on the idea.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Nafeesa Karim