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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Britannia Talking Lost Weekends

$10,000 Cut Affects Auxiliary Staff
By Sandra Thomas – Vancouver Courier

The executive director of Britannia Community Centre says a recent budget cut will hurt its popular weekend operations.

Kyle Pearce noted the NPA-dominated city council cut $13,000from the centre’s annual $2.5 million budget during the city’s budget deliberations. The cut included $3000 from general supplies and $10,000 from auxiliary staffing.

“We think we can absorb the $3000,” said Pearce. “Though that doesn’t mean that money will be given back next year, it’s a scar that stays. But what will really affect us is the $10,00 for auxiliary staff.”

Two auxiliary staff members, one at the information centre and an activities coordinator, work weekends. Pearce called both jobs vital to running the centre and said the budget cuts amount to a loss of 10 hours per weekend between two positions.

According to Pearce, the information centre employee greets people as they come to the door, does clerical work, registers visitors and sells memberships. The employee also directs visitors to locations such as the pool and rink, which are housed in other buildings of the large complex. The activities coordinator opens the doors on all the buildings and registers program instructors.

“The person in the visitors centre also has lots of information for people that’s not related to the centre and can refer them to the service agencies if that’s what they need,” said Pearce.

Pearce said the centre must choose between dividing the 10-hour cut between the two jobs or closing the information centre on weekends. The ice rink and pool won’t be affected by the cuts.

Jenn McGinn, association president for the community centre, said depending on how the hours are divided, weekend programs could be cancelled because no staff will be available to open rooms and buildings.

“For example, if there is a yoga class that’s supposed to be offered on Saturdays, it could be cancelled because there is no staff around to open rooms,” said McGinn.

Britannia is unusual because unlike most other community centres in the city, it doesn’t fall under the parks board’s jurisdiction but instead is handled by the city. McGinn said under previous councils the centre had a dedicated liaison, but that’s not the situation now.

“Under Larry Campbell we had a liaison, but not under Sam Sullivan,” she said. “We have a park board and school liaison, but no liaison from council.”

McGinn said each year the city asks the board of the community centre to make a list of three areas where “budget adjustments” would have the least impact. She said despite the fact that auxiliary staff was on this year’s “least worst” list, the board still argued unsuccessfully against the cut.

“We did what we could, but it didn’t help,” said McGinn.

NPA Coun. Kim Capri said auxiliary staff were included in the community centre’s list of possible budget cuts for the second in year in a row.

“They came forward and said these are the ways we could tighten our belt,” Capri told the Courier “The $10,000 cut is based on their recommendation.”

She said $10,000 isn’t a huge cut, considering the centre’s $2.5 million annual budget.

“And at the end of the day, it was their recommendation.”

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