British Columbia

Park board approves community centre funding overhaul

The Vancouver park board held a nine-hour public meeting that ended early this morning during which the board voted in favour of a controversial plan to collect revenue now generated and retained by community centre associations.
Despite angry opposition, the Vancouver park board is moving forward with its plan 2:27

The Vancouver park board held a nine-hour public meeting that ended early this morning during which the board voted in favour of a controversial plan to collect revenue now generated and retained by community centre associations.

Vision Vancouver park board commissioners voted in favor of pooling all revenue into a single pool.

The board is also moving to implement a universal membership system by this summer where users can freely use community centre facilities across the system.

The move angered more than 200 people in attendance who claimed it is nothing more than a money grab.

You’ve got to get this through. You have been ordered … This is what you have decided. You don’t want us to have another opportunity. You want to rush us to the altar with this dreadful solution which you think we will accept. We don’t accept it," said Isabel Minty, one of the many speakers.

The decision was met with catcalls and shouts for commissioners to resign.

"You have created an absolute mess and the evidence of your failure is here tonight," said speaker Mik Ball. "To see the fact that you have kept this charade going is absolutely disgusting."

NPA commissioner Melissa De Genova voted against the plan, saying it's all about the money for Vision.

"They have no leadership," she said. "It's obviously coming down from the top at them and they have been told this is what they have to do. They took their marching orders and they walked out of here today with their heads hung low."

City councillor wants more information But Vision commissioner Niki Sharma denies the board is coveting money raised by volunteers.

"That's not true. That will be something when the final agreement comes forward before the board, when we see the results of the negotiation, people will see that."

The board chair refused several motions to adjourn the meeting as it went into the early morning hours.

At one point, the meeting became so raucous police were called.  

Vancouver city councillor Adriane Carr wants city officials to evaluate the park board's centralized funding decision to ensure it doesn't harm the city's bottom line.

Carr has submitted a motion for consideration at next Tuesday's council meeting, asking for information from the park board manager.

She wants the manager to determine if impending changes to volunteer-run community centre societies could rob the city of a vital network of unpaid workers and fund-raisers.

Carr believes stripping community centre societies of their management duties will force the park board to use paid staff for the same work, raising costs to taxpayers.

What do you think of the park board's decision?

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With files from The Canadian Press