I thought it would be a slow Friday until I read today's Vancouver Province, Sun, Courier and CBC.ca.
Park Board management has put out a sixty page request for proposals to locate 25 - 30 life-size animatronic roaring dinosaurs along the tracks of Stanley Park's miniature railway. After 8 years of re-introducing native plants back into Stanley Park we now wish to offer a touch of Drumheller.
Tourist Ylang Nguyen was shocked that animatronic robots might soon be part of the Stanley Park experience.
"We came to see nature -- that's why we flew all the way to B.C. from England," she said. "The last thing we want to see is robots."
Easy Jurassic jokes abounded today. It was recommended that Park Board consider the following less expensive Jurassic exhibits:
- Susan Mundick, Park Board General Manager;
- Lori Mackay, Director, Queen Elizabeth District;
- Park Commissioner Marty "The Clear Cutter" Zlotnik; and
- Park Commissioner Heather "I am not in a conflict" Holden.
Community Centre development was a North America wide post WWII movement. They were meant to recognize the efforts of fallen soldiers and provide a balance of social and recreational opportunities for neighbourhood residents.
Now the goal is strictly recreational. The Vancouver Park Board "does not do social work" is General Manager Susan Mundick's constant refrain. What she really means is let's download social programs onto local non-profits.
Each community centre has a non-profit board which generates revenue through designing programs whose revenue subsidizes neighbourhood social/recreational programs for children, youth, adults and seniors.
Over the past three years Park Board has removed itself from child care (daycare / preschool) leaving the local non-profits, Community Associations, to pick up the costs.
These Community Associations can be strong and well organized or descend into a morass of myopia, fief building and nepotism. Most are strong and community focussed.
When a community program does generate significant revenue Park Board managers request a significant share of the profit. If the Community Association disagrees it becomes next to impossible to work with Park Board senior managers unless a photo opportunity presents itself.
Further, Park Commissioner Marty Zlotnik has mused about term limits. Two terms are required for Community Association board members to understand Park Board operations and politics. What Commissioner Zlotnik wants is to clear cut the experienced Community Association members and replace them with naive new members who will readily agree with whatever Park Commissioners recommend.
The tensions between Community Associations and Park Board management has come to a head over what is called the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA). It's the rulebook which governs the relationship between the Park Board & Community Associations (non-profits).
The JOA, dated and requiring updates, has exacerbated Vancouver's east - west divide. The process involved bringing the Community Association presidents together on how to best jointly operate community centres.
Unfortunately these meetings were not well facilitated and presidents from east side centres felt marginalized by both the facilitator and their west side counterparts.
The result - an east side Presidents' table. When management representation was requested they were rebuffed though approximately 2/3rds of all community centres are on Vancouver's east side.
Park Board management's jurassic approach to community centres and their non profit Community Associations has resulted in perpetuating and stratifying the growing gap between Vancouver's recreational haves from its have nots.