This story has been updated since it was originally posted.
The first step in a court case filed against the park board by six community centre associations, alledging breaches of a standing and interim joint-operating agreement, will be heard in B.C. Supreme Court Sept. 3.
As part of the lawsuit the associations requested an injunction of the OneCard at their facilities until the lawsuit can be heard, likely in October. It's that part of the lawsuit that will be heard next week.
Last week, the Vancouver park board said it will defend its new OneCard system in court in connection with the lawsuit.
In a five-page statement released last week, Vision Vancouver park board chair Sarah Blyth described the allegations from the associations as serious and said the park board will be defending itself in court.
“Over the last months, there have been a number of statements made by representatives of the six dissenting CCAs that need to be clarified,” Blyth said in part. “The park board is not centralizing revenue. All facility generated revenue on an annual basis including registration and user fees from all community centre programs flow to the CCAs. This totals over $19M per year and constitutes nearly 90 per cent of their total association revenues. There has been no change to this practice.”
As part of the lawsuit filed against the park board Aug. 20 in B.C. Supreme Court, the associations are asking for a short-term injunction to stop the use of the OneCard. The OneCard is a system-wide card introduced by the park board in June to replace the Flexipass and virtually eliminate the need for individual memberships to 22 of the city’s community centres. The card was initially accepted at just some of the city’s community centres with a plan to go system-wide in September so long as the proposed joint-operating agreement between the park board and those centres’ associations was ratified by that date. The six associations — Hillcrest, Killarney, Hastings, Kerrisdale, Sunset and Kensington — did not ratify the agreement so have continued to charge for memberships at a typical cost of under $10 a year.
Dean Davison, the lawyer for the six associations, hopes the injunction will be approved in early September in anticipation of an October court date to hear the 45-page suit.
“It’s complicated and I think the park board uses that to their advantage when they say the OneCard is all good,” said Davison. “But there’s too much history and too much going on for that to be the case.”
The six community centres are concerned because the OneCard eliminates the need for community centre association memberships. According to the provincial Societies Act, the associations must have a membership list to qualify as a non-profit society. The associations say non-profit status is vital to their ability in obtaining government funding or grants.
Davison noted the park board has promised to repay the associations for revenues from lost memberships for one year, but has made no mention of what will happen after that.
“And they’ve said nothing about the consequences of losing members,” said Davison. “I don’t know why they don’t think that’s a concern, but if you’re a non-profit society without members you’re in trouble.”
In the statement, Blyth noted: “Over 40,000 people have now acquired OneCard, which is designed to enable access for all Vancouver residents to the entire park board network of rinks, pools, fitness centres and community centres, just as a library card provides access for everyone to all public libraries across the city…”
As previously reported in the Courier, while the park board describes the OneCard as free, users must still pay for programs, swimming, skating and other recreation uses at community centres.
To read the entire park board statement, see the web version of this story at vancourier.com.
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