Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Has a study been done of the 50 year practice in Vancouver of allowing volunteer  Community Centre Associations (CCAs)  to raise money and participate in programming? Has there been a staff report on the matter?  Would it be better to have professional staff of the centralized Parks Board determine programming in each community Centre rather than to suffer input of local groups?  Should someone consult a lawyer, or better yet an ethics professor to rule on the propriety of the Board taking over ping pong tables that were purchased by the volunteer societies?

The CCAs are right. The Parks Board is wrong. Period.

Someone is sure to demand a study. We live in times when studies are required to prove everything.  The only reason to study this Community Centre thing is that we might win a Harvard Ignoble Prize for public administration.  Harvard University awards its Ignoble Prize to researchers studying the obvious.  They have included the following gems:  

  • Psychology – David Dunning Cornell University "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments".[
  • Literature: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
  • Psychology: Karl Halvor Teigen  for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.[153]
  • Public safety: John Senders of the University of Toronto for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.[156]
  • Medicine: Rebecca Waber and Dan Ariely for demonstrating that expensive placebos are more effective than inexpensive placebos.[116][117]
  • Psychology – Christopher Chabris of Harvard, for demonstrating that when people pay close attention to something, it's all too easy to overlook anything else – even a woman in a gorilla suit.[77] (See inattentional blindness).
  • Public Health – B.S. Srihari  Bangalore, India, for the probing medical discovery that nose picking is a common activity among adolescents.
  • Physics – Presented to Dominique M.R. Georget, of Norwich, England, for their rigorous analysis of soggy breakfast cereal. It was published in the report entitled "A Study of the Effects of Water Content on the Compaction Behaviour of Breakfast Cereal Flakes."[21]
There has been to much analysis already. Pete McMartin  definitively but fairly presents both sides of the case: 
On the one hand, the Parks Board says that it is inequitable to have different programs in different neighborhoods.  On the other hand the CCAs ask, why volunteer if  we are being relegated to bystander status. Then there are the tiresome, ubiquitous,  moderate, diplomatic voices who ask, "why can’t we all just fall in love." 

Our Council routinely honours people to advise it on matters like affordable housing or improving social interactions.  I am not suggesting a study, but if one were done I bet it would show that the politicians do not take kindly to advice they don't want to hear. 

Seriously, how can it be better to deliver services to each diverse neighborhood through a centralized bureaucracy?   How can it not be better to have a neighborhood based association to raise money and provide advice?   [see  http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Opinion+Park
s+board+takeover+community+centres+just+cash+grab/7884922/story.html for the CCA side.]

If there are problems with these local groups in any particular neighborhood, then shut up and deal with them.   Don't continually screw up a system that works.


  1. Well said Jonathan! This proposition is another step not just to neuter the CCAs, but the Park Board as well. Ms Ballem has stated that the Pk Bd General Manager reports to her not the Park Board. In both the Pk Bd and CCAs if there is no control of programming, policy, etc. and no ability to raise money such advisory boards cannot make meaningful decisions.

    Vancouver does not have a ward system, but we do have an independent elected Pk Bd and community based CCAs as well as strong community organizations across all neighbourhoods in the City. Vision Vancouver is hell bent to decimate these vital organizations. The CCA Joint Operating Agreement is a power and money grab pure and simple.

    Bill McCreery

  2. Bill, The Sun reported that the Board originally said that there had in fact been a study by a management consultant which they merely followed. Then after having been pressed for a copy of it they acknowledged that although the study was the greatest of all studies, it did not exist.

    I think we have trapped them in a fatal inconsistency. It is possible to imagine a study greater than all others. But if it is greater than all others it must exist, because if it doesn't it is not greater than all others.

    The Board has an Ig Nobel prize waiting to be claimed, to hang right along with our Greenest City prize. See if you can find it and submit it to Harvard before the 2013 deadline.

  3. I'm really confused - is the City wide loathed but elected Council running this city or is Penny Ballem - who gave her the right to decide everything and demand that elected officials of the Parks Board or Parks Board General Manager report to her - the citizens of Vancouver should be calling for a study on why this woman is interfering in and trying to reform a proven working organization of Community Centre Associations.

    1. She remains on the job so the Council must like her.


  4. Making reference to a report that does not exist to desecrate our communities is unethical. Their rationale is clearly not to benefit our communities, or it would not be necessary to lie (non-existent report), cheat (erroneous financials statements), and torture (330AM meetings)to achieve this end. This board should be ashamed of their failure to carry out their elected duties in favour of towing the company line.