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Not-for-profit funding changes resisted by community centre groups

Joyce Clearihue, 85, takes part in the Strong Seniors fitness class at the Monterey Recreation Centre in Oak Bay, BC Tuesday May 29, 2012.

Chad Hipolito for The Globe and Mail/chad hipolito The Globe and Mail

Vancouver community centre associations are saying that a new park-board proposal to collect all the revenue from programs at community centres across the city and redistribute it to them more fairly will jeopardize their ability to get federal and provincial grants.

For the past four decades, community centre associations have raised money to pay for many of their own programs – through fees, fundraising campaigns and grants – while the park board has given them money for its own programs. The park board says differences in the ability to generate money have created a system of "have and have not" centres and results in inefficient use of the funds in the system.

The new arrangement would centralize the system. Money generated from community centre programs would go to the park board and be distributed equally each year to each association.

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"But because the park board isn't a non-profit organization, they don't have the ability to apply for that grant money. So that money will be taken out of the system," said Ainslie Kwan, president of the Killarney Community Centre association and spokesperson for the group campaigning against the proposed changes.

Ms. Kwan says community centre associations – which are not-for-profit entities – have heavily relied on government grants to fund some programs. She said any grant money associations get would have to go to the park board.

However, the park board has promised it would not establish a system in which the associations could not apply for grants.

Park-board data show that from 2008 to 2010, the Kerrisdale Community Centre received an average yearly total of $1,892,377 from its community centre association, nearly 71 per cent of its funding.

Kensington Community Centre generated $373,559 from its community centre association, just 38 per cent of its total.

"We wouldn't accept that inequality in our hospital system or our library system, so I don't think we should be accepting that in our community centre system," said Niki Sharma, a park-board commissioner.

Ms. Sharma said negotiations are continuing with community centre associations.

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"The staff has looked over grants that have been received at every centre and we would make sure that nothing in an agreement would jeopardize their ability to obtain those grants or fund raise," she said.

 

By the numbers

49.6 per cent

Average of total funding for Vancouver community centres from their community centre associations (Three year average, 2008-2010)

71

Percentage of Kerrisdale Community Centre's total funding from its CCA (Three year average, 2008-2010)

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38

Percentage of Kensington Community Centre's total funding from its CCA (Three year average, 2008-2010)

$2,673,959

Kerrisdale Community Centre's total funding (Three year average, 2008-2010)

$993,886

Kensington Community Centre's total funding (Three year average, 2008-2010)By

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About the Author
News reporter

Daniel Bitonti is a Vancouver-based reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before joining the bureau, Daniel spent six months on the copy desk in the Globe’s Toronto newsroom after completing a journalism degree at Carleton University. More

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