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Park rangers as 'security guards' at community centres

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The fight between the Vancouver Park Board and certain community centre groups has heated up again.

Park rangers are now serving as security guards for staff.

Rangers have been assigned to six centres of concern, confirms Vice Chair Aaron Jasper. He says it has nothing to do with the Park Board needing additional eyes and ears there.

“It’s resulted from the fact that we’ve had two instances at one of our centres involving staff and a local community centre association executive. In one of the cases our general mangers had to intervene with the assistance of a Vancouver Police Officer to have this individual removed.”

He tells us staff has been harassed and even threatened at times.

“We want to make sure that first and foremost that our staff feel safe and feel supported. We thought it was a prudent measure and I support it wholeheartedly. That we have at least a park ranger presence at six of the centres while we are going through a court case and lawsuit.”

The fight stems from plan to introduce a universal pass for all community centres.

“The issue of politics surrounding the court case are obviously of importance to a lot of people, but I think that were we need to all agree that where we draw the line… is where we start affecting the well-being of our staff,” says Jasper.

The president of Hillcrest Community Centre says the park rangers are embarrassing and not needed.

“It’s very intimidating for the patrons,” says Jesse Johl. “The patrons have been asking ‘Is there something seriously wrong?’ It’s concerning the patrons when there’s absolutely no need to concern [them].”

He also says the claims made about harassment from the Vancouver Park Board are simply not true.

Six community centres run by volunteer associations are refusing to introduce the “OneCard.” The other 16 plan to bring it in.