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Community centre presidents rally against cuts

December 3rd, 2009 · 8 Comments

There’s been a lot written about the conservatory and petting zoo closures as part of the park-board budget, less so about the impacts at community centres.

I wasn’t sure what all they were, but community centre presidents are sending out the message that they are not trivial. Here’s their news release from this morning.

City’s Proposed Budget Cuts Will Close Community Centre Doors

Seniors, children, youth-at-risk, single mothers, and the homeless are just some of the vulnerable throughout Vancouver who will feel the brunt of the City’s proposed cuts to the Park Board budget that funds Vancouver’s 22 community centres.

“We provide showers and hot breakfasts for the homeless, relief and skills training for single parents, safe, productive evening activities for youth-at-risk, and unique social opportunities for our seniors,” said Thunderbird Community Centre President Mike Bradley, “and all for free or at prices that the less well-off in our society can afford”.

On November 13, the Vancouver Park Board revealed that the City of Vancouver’s proposed budget envelope for the entire Park Board would require cutbacks of $2.8 million to address the operating budget shortfall for 2010. Almost half of these cost reductions ($1.3 million or 46%) are currently targeting ‘recreation’ which includes essential funding for community centres, pools and rinks.

“If this scale of budget cut is levied against community centres, core programming will be dramatically curtailed with working families and low income earners paying the price,” Bradley said.

Vancouver’s 22 community centres received 5.4 million visits last year at an average cost of $2.84 per visit, according to Park Board statistics. “These community centre patrons are not usually the families that can afford private clubs to keep fit or socialize,” said Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre spokesperson Danny Yu, “the rich won’t be the ones affected by these cutbacks, it will be those at the bottom of the income ladder”.

In terms of caring for youth-at-risk, cutting access to community centres is actually a major false economy. Research shows that for every $1 spent on youth services, between $8 and $11 are saved in policing and court costs.

Bradley and Yu are especially surprised that Mayor Gregor Robertson would contemplate cuts of this kind to community centres when these facilities are vital to his number one goal of making Vancouver the greenest city on Earth. “Complete, compact neighbourhoods, where citizens of all ages can work and play within walking distance of their homes are key to a sustainable and resilient city,” Bradley said. “Our community centres are the hearts of such neighbourhoods. If the services they provide lag behind the growth in population, all we are left with is unhealthy overcrowding.”

The Community Association Presidents Group believes that Vancouver citizens are prepared to pay the taxes necessary to support current levels of community centre service. “We therefore request City Council to increase funding to the Park Board by $1.3 million for recreation services – sufficient to prevent the damaging cutbacks to community centre social service programs for the vulnerable that will occur without such support.”

Vancouver Community Centre Association  Presidents Group

James Gill – APG President – West Point Grey

Kathleen Bigsby – Vice-Chair – Kerrisdale

Ray Gallagher – Britannia

Abdul Shaikh – Champlain

Joyce Saben – Douglas Park

Erica Levy – Dunbar

Eric Harms – Hastings

Brad Tamplin – Kensington

Susan Duffy – Kerrisdale

Keith Jacobson – Killarney

Robert Haines – Kitsilano

Danny Yu – Marpole Oakridge

Nancy Chiavario – Mount Pleasant

Steve Bouchard – Ray Cam

Gayle Uthoff – Renfrew

Marion Waterston – Riley Park

Dr. Patricia Badir – Strathcona

Setty Pendakur – Roundhouse

Ken Thompson – Sunset

Mike Bradley – Thunderbird

Chris Payne – Trout Lake

Dory Lanenter – West End

Eileen Pedde – False Creek

Vicki Rogers – Sunrise

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