14 February 2013

‘Have-not’ community has idea to solve Vancouver park board saga

Sure, it’s down at the bottom on Vancouver park board’s “have-not” list, and yes, it’s all for a little more equality between community centres.

But the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre, the centre in Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood according to a city ranking, still isn’t a big fan of the park board’s proposal to collect all the revenue and redistribute it to level the playing field.

Instead, Marpole’s community association president Danny Yu is looking for a way forward with an idea for an alternative financial model – a middle ground that’s been largely absent from the saga between the board and the city’s 23 centres as they negotiate a new operating agreement.

Yu suggests a taxing model where the board and associations come up with a formula where a percentage of revenue would go to the board based on size, programs or usage.

The current model, where the associations don’t give up any revenue to the park board despite getting the buildings rent free, isn’t working perfectly, Yu said.

“If you have a store in a shopping mall, you pay rent,” he offered as a comparison to his proposal. “That leaves a little bit for volunteers to continue to provide good programming, and the park board gets their money.”

A similar idea was rejected about two years ago at an Association Presidents Group (APG) meeting, he said, but it will likely be more palatable since the board’s proposal to control all the revenue. Former park board commissioner Stuart Mackinnon proposed a similar idea in a recent blog post.

Both APG chair Kate Perkins of Trout Lake and park board commissioner Niki Sharma did not want to discuss potential funding models as the matter will be negotiated at the bargaining table.

“All ideas will be welcomed at the table. We will take a look to see what works to meet the goals of better equity and access,” Sharma said in an email.

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