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.