News / Vancouver

Vancouver park board says money isn’t top issue in community centre battle

The park board is once again saying money isn’t the driving force behind the plan to centralize community centre operations after reports suggested anticipation of an audit prompted the entire overhaul.

According to minutes from a Nov. 2012 meeting between community centre association presidents, the associations were under the impression the park board wanted to control finances throughout the system before an expected audit on government spending.

The minutes indicate the park board wanted to do this by quickly negotiating a new joint operating agreement.

But the park board was not expecting an audit, according to a statement sent Thursday in response to the reports. It had, however, informed associations that the provincial auditor general had just been appointed to review practices in municipalities.

The park board maintains its motivation for a new operating agreement lies in access for all citizens, equity among centres and operational sustainability and accountability, according to the statement attributed to general manager Malcolm Bromley.

Transparency is a “critical area of focus” for the board, according to the statement.

The board’s “primary interest lies not with seeking opportunities to bring in more financial support, but with providing quality services to our residents and protecting the interests of taxpayers in our communities who have invested millions of dollars and volunteer hours to build our outstanding network of community centres throughout our city.”

Yet allegations of a “cash grab” have been rampant throughout the negotiation process, which continues to drag on slowly for all but six centres that chose instead to sue the park board.

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