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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Community centres and their leadership : a study of British Columbia McKenzie, Kathleen Elizabeth

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to describe community centres in British Columbia and to evaluate them, particularly in relation to leadership. What appears to the author as the best of current thought on the purposes and leadership of community centres is set forth. On the basis of this criteria for the evaluation of community centres are evolved. Twenty nine community centres in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory, concerning which information was available, are described. Finally, the community centre developments, so described, are evaluated in terms of the criteria. In outlining the standards, by which it is proposed that the community centres described should be judged, reference is made to the origins of community centres. Their growth is attributed to the leisure-time needs arising out of urbanization and industrialization. The principal developments in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada are outlined. There has evolved the conception of the community centre as an institution which enables a feeling of unity and democratic expression for the community. If such ends are to be served, the planning for the community centre must be done in consultation with other organizations of the community. For this purpose a co-ordinating, planning council must be organized. Such a council should become a permanent part of a community, for the pooling of resources can meet other needs. The Community Centre must be related to such a group. Buildings are a means to an end and efforts should be made not only to provide new ones but to adapt existing ones to serve the objectives of the centre. Program and the organization of the membership of the Centre must serve the primary objectives of meeting human needs and establishing such a pattern of social relationships as will make possible the growth of individuals as social beings. Effective leadership can be provided only by those who understand these things. Training must equip leaders with a knowledge of community life, an understanding of human needs and behaviour, recreational, supervisory, administrative and other skills. Professional leadership, so trained and equipped, is essential. The description of the twenty-nine community centres is prefaced by an outline of the work of several public and private provincial agencies. The community centres of eight districts of the City of Vancouver are described. There follow three important centres in municipalities adjoining Vancouver. Developments in seventeen other communities of the Province are then outlined. In evaluating developments, it is pointed out that requests for help addressed to provincial agencies clearly indicate a widespread need for more recreational programs and activities. The fact that many communities are organizing to meet their own needs suggests they see in the community centre a desirable agency for their community. The developments in the various communities and their relationship to the presence or lack of leaders are outlined. Few of the areas within the scope of the study have the services of trained leaders. The capacities and limitations of these leaders are reflected in the constitution and functioning, the successes and failures of their several centres. The relationship between the value of the leadership and its financial cost is pointed out. For smaller communities it is suggested that more extensive use of trained leadership would be possible if costs and services were shared. More trained leadership at the provincial level would accelerate community centre developments throughout the province.

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