Rebel community centres mount fresh legal attack on park board

Decision pending on first injunction attempt by six Vancouver community centre associations

Hastings, Riley Park-Hillcrest, Killarney, Kensington, Kerrisdale and Sunset community centre associations will be back in Supreme Court Oct. 22 asking a judge to stop the park board’s termination of their joint operating agreements until their lawsuit is fully heard in late November.

Ainslie Kwan, president of the Killarney Community Centre Association, described the termination notices as a sure sign of a takeover.

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“We feel like the park board is moving full-steam ahead,” said Ainslie Kwan. “So we decided we had to file an injunction to get the termination stopped.”

Last month, the associations demanded the park board halt the Aug. 29 termination notice of their joint-operating agreements, before 5 p.m. Sept. 13.

As reported in the Courier at the time, association lawyer Dean Davison sent a seven-page document addressed to Ben Parkin, assistant director of general litigation for the City of Vancouver, saying the park board not only wants to terminate the joint-operating agreement between Kerrisdale, Killarney, Hastings, Hillcrest, Sunset and Riley Park/Hillcrest community centre associations but also wants to dictate the terms of the dissolution. The eviction is to take effect Dec. 31.

When the park board didn’t respond, the associations followed up with a letter Sept. 30 detailing their intention to file a notice of civil claim.

“That being said,” Davison wrote in part to Parkin, “it appears the park board is seeking to take over assets and goodwill that is clearly partially our clients’ without authorization or agreement. Unless the park board agrees to immediately cease and desist terminating the current status quo between the park board and our clients prior to a court determination on the issues.”

Kwan said of particular concern is the fact the park board is working to publish the winter brochure for each of the six centres. The brochure is typically a shared project between the park board and the associations.

“As long as we’ve been in business, we’ve completed the brochure together,” said Kwan. “There is no mention of the associations in the brochures and if the park board is successful in creating them alone, the damage to the associations will be irreparable.”

She added the park board has approached contract workers and staff hired by the associations regarding their transition to city employees.

This is the third legal proceeding the six associations have launched against the park board. The first asked for an injunction of the controversial OneCard for use at those six centres. The six associations refused to accept the OneCard for their association-run programs because it eliminates the need for individual community centre association memberships and could limit their ability to raise money.

According to the provincial Society 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. They argue the introduction of the pass is a demonstration of the park board’s plan to phase out the associations. The second, scheduled for late November, will deal with accusations by the associations that the park board has violated their respective joint operating agreements and the board’s “unwillingness to fairly resolve issues.”

A Supreme Court decision on the first injunction request regarding the OneCard is expected any day.

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