Dissident community centres say Vancouver Park Board is in contempt of court

Five community centre associations are accusing Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation of contempt of court over the new cloud-based program registration system.

Hastings, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Killarney and Sunset are resisting the introduction of the new ActiveNet registration system. Their lawyer, Dean Davison, says the rollout of the system violates the Jan. 17, 2014 court order by Justice Gregory Bowden, which prevented the park board from evicting the associations over their refusal to accept the OneCard pass. Davison filed an application July 10 to be heard July 23 in B.C. Supreme Court to stop ActiveNet. The associations claim the park board did not allow them to review or approve the contract with ActiveNet. The board, it claimed, is breaching the court order “by increasing maintenance and transaction fees paid by the CCAs and taking control of the CCAs revenues through the forced implementation of a new software program.”

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The associations claim they would face higher fees and relinquish control of money they generate from programs and services and they may not be able to offer the same level of service to the community. Community centres paid $1,500 a year plus one to two per cent of online sales and controlled their own funds under the Safari registration system. Under its successor, ActiveNet, they would pay up to $23,000 a year.

If ActiveNet is allowed, the documents say, “the applicants will have lost a great degree of independence they have had for many years, they face delays in being able to pay their bills and staff due to the park board holding their funds.”

Park board general manager Malcolm Bromley said, via email, that “[The park board] is comfortable that the implementation of ActiveNet is both necessary and urgent to sustain operations across the network of community centres in our city and not in contempt of Justice Bowden’s order.”

Bromley claimed that Safari does not meet payment card industry standards for online security and the program is “very fragile and vulnerable to crashing.” The park board’s April 9 update on the ActiveNet project said the initial capital outlay for Safari was $515,000, of which $315,000 came from associations. ActiveNet is projected to cost the city $2 million and was on-track for a spring pilot and summer launch.  A February park board presentation said ActiveNet would also afford the city better data collection.

The legal action came four days after the two sides hit an impasse in the Vince Ready-mediated joint operating agreement negotiations. The community associations have met with Ready and city officials, including Bromley and city manager Penny Ballem, since before last November’s civic election. A new five-year agreement with three two-year renewal options and 90-day escape clauses is on the table. A draft agreement seen by the Courier contains a Brand and Brand Protection clause that says “the parties agree to respect each other’s brand and public image and to communicate about each other in a constructive and respectful way in all public materials or forums.”

No new dates for talks have been scheduled, and Riley Park Hillcrest and Sunset are no longer involved in negotiations. “Vince is out of the country for two weeks and we are awaiting his return to set next dates,” Bromley said.

During talks, the park board tabled a June 30 KPMG report called “CCA Current State and Contribution Fund Impact,” which said professional services and marketing expenses grew substantially faster than facility generated revenue between 2009 and 2013.

“While CCA profitability from facility operations remain positive, high overhead in recent years have reduced margins,” said the report. “Operating costs and revenue have experienced steady growth, leading to relatively stable facility profit margins. Increases in costs not involved in generating facility revenue have reduced total profits from $663K in 2009 to a loss of $62K in 2013.”

John Coupar, chair of the majority NPA park board, did not respond to an interview request. Most of the city’s 22 community centres agreed to the OneCard, which was introduced by the majority Vision Vancouver park board in 2012.





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