Veteran mediator Vince Ready has been hired to settle the ongoing dispute between the Vancouver Park Board and six volunteer-based community centre associations.
“Park Board Chair Aaron Jasper and General Manager Malcolm Bromley welcome the involvement of Mr. Ready given the extraordinary experience he would bring to any negotiation,” read a statement issued by the Park Board.
Ready has recently settled disputes between Port Metro Vancouver and truckers, the provincial government and teachers’ union, and IKEA Richmond and the Teamsters union which lasted for 17 consecutive months.
In February 2013, the Vancouver Park Board Commissioners voted to introduce the OneCard, a universal membership smart card that provides users access to all municipal recreational facilities and programs. Park Board proponents stated the new system would provide a more equitable system for the city’s residents.
While most community centre associations are still negotiating with the municipality without conflict, a number of community centre associations are fighting the Park Board in court as the new system takes away revenue and operational control from their organizations.
The community centre associations for Hastings, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Killarney, Riley Park and Sunset submitted a joint petition in B.C. Supreme Court in August 2013 against the Park Board’s plans. The Park Board responded by announcing plans to terminate its operational agreements with the associations that have filed the lawsuit.
In January 2014, the B.C. Supreme Court granted an injunction to the six associations, which effectively prevented the Park Board from terminating their agreements with the associations. The court ruled that such action cannot be made until the legal case is settled.
According to the City, as of April 2014, 115,000 OneCard passes were issued since the program was launched in the summer of 2013. In addition, the smart card increased recreational facility usage by 25 per cent.
Feature Image: Stanley Park via Shutterstock