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Park Board votes to centralize community centres

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The Vancouver Park Board is on the defensive after a controversial vote early this morning to centralize the city’s community centres.

The 5-2 decision came after a marathon emergency session the board held last night. More than 300 people turned out to the West End Community Centre for a meeting that only wrapped just after 3 a.m and many of them left disappointed.

Vision Park Board Commissioner Aaron Jasper maintains the move to centralize services and revenues is meant to maximize services.

“[Staff] feel the best way to do this is by pooling the money together and redistributing the funds amongst the centres. That’s the best way that we can achieve these goals of equity, of access.”

He insists the board is financially-sound.

“This isn’t about a power grab; this isn’t about a money grab. We’ve balanced our books… we’ve increased our 2013 budget by $2.4 million. The money stays with them. The $13 million of retained earnings, they keep it. This is about spreading the money, not grabbing the money.”

NPA Park Board Commissioner Melissa De Genova calls this the greatest public policy issue the board has ever faced. She feels the Vision-dominated board rammed through its agenda with little thought to the consequences.

“If it’s not a power grab or a money grab, then why couldn’t we have had a proper consultation? Why was this meeting called in one business day and [with] three days total notice? They’re just so disorganized!”

The board wants to wrap up the plan by July 1st.