Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exclusive: Park Board steamrolling ahead with eviction, say six dissenting associations

Court documents filed by Vancouver’s six dissenting community centre associations say the Park Board is proceeding to “evict” them before the court has decided on their bid for an injunction to stop the OneCard.

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The Park Board terminated Joint Operating Agreements on Aug. 29 with volunteer boards at Hastings, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Killarney, Riley Park Hillcrest and Sunset community centres effective year-end. That was in reaction to the Aug. 20 filing of a B.C. Supreme Court petition aimed at blocking the citywide imposition of the OneCard membership system. The six associations, who are fighting the Park Board plan to centralize control of the 22 community centres, say they have a right to sell their own memberships. 

Justice Bruce Cohen reserved judgment after the Sept. 17-18 hearing. 

The six associations now say the Vision Vancouver-controlled Park Board is looking for other not-for-profit groups to replace them and staff transition teams have been formed to prepare for the Jan. 1, 2014 Park Board takeover.

The Oct. 15 court filing by Dean Davison, the lawyer for the six community associations, says the community associations have invested millions of dollars into the community centres and the programs “and as a result have legal ownership of a great deal of property and assets at the community centres." The six associations want the court to declare the community centres are "held on constructive trust by the Park Board for the plaintiffs."

"The Park Board is also currently taking steps to take over the programs on Jan. 1, 2014 when ownership of the copyrighted material (in the brochures which promote the programs) and the decades of goodwill is still a matter that must be dealt with by the court," according to the association's filings.

The plaintiffs applied Oct. 4 for an injunction to stop the Park Board from terminating the Joint Operating Agreements with the community associations and a declaration that the Joint Operating Agreements remain in effect and an interim injunction forcing the Park Board to perform its obligations under the JOAs.

A three-day hearing is scheduled for Oct. 22, but Park Board wants it adjourned to Nov. 18. 

The filing by city lawyer Jason Twa claims: "The Park Board has taken no steps to interfere with the plaintiffs joint operation of community centres during the currency of the JOAs, notwithstanding that it has issued notices of termination. Until the terminations of the JOAs are effective the Park Board continues to jointly operate community centres with the plaintiffs."

Twa claims more time is needed to prepare a defence because park board and civic archives must be searched for documents dating back to the 1930s about "historic financial and other contributions that the plaintiffs have made to the development, construction and renovation of community centres and related facilities dating as far back as the 1930s." 

"It will be a considerable undertaking for the Park Board to search for, locate, review and gather such documents," according to the Park Board filing.

Meanwhile, only two-and-a-half months remain until Jan. 1, 2014. 

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