AT a Vancouver Park Board meeting on Monday night, commissioners approved a new Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) to offer to 20 Community Centre Associations (CCAs).

The decision caps off a one-year consultation between the Park Board and the CCAs and introduces a historic new chapter in their relationship.

“The CCAs provided valuable feedback throughout this process which has resulted in a stronger document,” said Park Board Chair Michael Wiebe. “Approval of this new JOA marks a major step in rebuilding our long-standing partnership with the CCAs and helps ensure we continue to deliver the best possible recreation services to residents.”

The new JOA clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the Park Board, as well as those of the CCAs. Importantly, it expands access to recreation services and benefits for all residents in all communities across Vancouver.

Key new public benefits envisioned in the new agreement include:

* Popular OneCard and Flexipass will be accepted city-wide

* Low income discounts available at all community centres

* Full access to community centres for all residents – no membership fees required

* New system-wide recreation programs

CCAs and the Park Board jointly operate all but three of the Vancouver’s 24 community centres. The CCAs deliver programs in their centres that reflect local needs, while the Park Board operates and maintains the City-owned community centre buildings. The Park Board also runs all pools, rinks and some fitness centres.

CCAs play an important role in Vancouver’s recreation system. They design and operate programs in individual community centres that reflect local needs, foster community engagement and drive volunteer recruitment. CCAs also deliver special events for communities.

The story of Vancouver’s community centres began in 1949 when Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre opened in southwest Vancouver. Since then, the Park Board and community centre associations have operated under multiple joint operating agreements. Most of the current agreements date as far back as 1979. Over the years there have been many unsuccessful attempts to negotiate updated joint operating agreements with various parties.

The facilitated consultation launched in April 2016 was distinct from negotiations of past years in that it was a “one table” fully inclusive and transparent process model open to all community centre association boards and directors, with support and participation from all current Park Board Commissioners. It was an open process with information shared at key milestones. Community centre associations gave a considerable amount of feedback throughout the lengthy consultation that was incorporated into the JOA.

The signing deadline for CCAs is September 30 with the new JOA scheduled to take effect January 1, 2018.