Keith Jacobs, past president and current treasurer for the association, said the park board’s general manager Malcolm Bromley and city manager Penny Ballem have given the associations an ultimatum, which he described as unacceptable. The park board wants to take control of the revenues generated from programs and room rentals, which traditionally have remained with the centres. “I’ve heard Malcolm Bromley say at several meetings whoever has the money has the power,” said Jacobs. “They say it’s non- negotiable.” Jacobs said the money raised by each centre is used within that community. In Killarney, the association contributed $450,000 towards a new pool and $350,000 towards the ice rink used during the 2012 Olympic Games.
“We do that gladly,” said Jacobs. “That money doesn’t go anywhere except this community.” Jacobs added the association is asking for the public to get involved with a “call to action.”
“We want people to write to the mayor, council and park board,” said Jacobs. “The councillors have told me this has nothing to do with them and that this is a park board issue, but that changed when Penny Ballem took over every meeting. The park board is no longer an independent body.”
But not all community centre associations are as concerned as Killarney about the proposed agreement. In a Jan. 22 email to Bromley, Michael Noon, president of the Roundhouse Community Centre Association, expressed gratitude to the general manager and park board staff for responding to concerns regarding staffing, programming and fundraising.
Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Niki Sharma said the goal of the proposed agreement is to bring all of the city’s community centres in line with the four priorities of its strategic plan. Those include providing accessibility for all, leading in green practices, engaging the public, and using existing resources effectively and efficiently.
Sharma said the practice by some associations of insisting users purchase individual memberships and refusing to honor the universal Leisure Access Card goes against the board’s priority of accessibility. The Leisure Access Card is available to low-income residents. “We want to ensure community centres are accessible to everyone and that they have the same level of service,” said Sharma. She added the park board wants to pool all of the money raised through programming and room rentals and distribute it amongst all of the community centres. “Under this current proposal they’d still have the ability to fundraise,” Sharma insisted.
The emergency meeting is at 7 p.m. Jan. 29, at the community centre, 6260 Killarney St.