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Supreme Court case a victory, say six community centres

Judge sides with park board
Ainslie Kwan
Ainslie Kwan, president of the Killarney Community Centre Association. File photo: Dan Toulgoet

The six community centre associations battling the park board in Supreme Court over an interim joint-operating agreement are calling a decision in the first phase of the overall lawsuit a victory, despite an Oct. 28 judgment against them.

In September, that first stage of the court case addressed a request for an injunction against mandatory use of the OneCard at Hillcrest, Killarney, Hastings, Kerrisdale, Sunset and Kensington community centres.

Spokesperson Ainslie Kwan said while the judge ruled the case didn’t meet the test for an injunction, the park board stopped the implementation of the cards at the six centres as a result of the request in court.

“And that’s the result we were hoping for,” said Kwan, who added the argument over the use of the OneCard is a minor component of a much larger lawsuit about what the centres are calling the park board’s continual violations of the decades-old joint-operating agreement.

The six associations are concerned because the OneCard eliminates the need for individual community centre association memberships.

According to the provincial Society’s 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.

Included within a 26-page document is a six-page decision from Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen who wrote in part: “Regarding the plaintiffs assertions about the impact of the defendant’s implementation of the OneCard system on their ability to sustain or sell memberships, as the defendant points out, for all intents and purposes it is ‘business as usual’ at all but one of the plaintiff’s centres.”

Cohen also sided with the park board in allowing the OneCard to be advertised and sold at the six centres, writing in part: “While I am mindful that the OneCard system is not and will not be implemented at the plaintiff’s centres for plaintiff-operated programs for the duration of the JOAs, nevertheless, members of the public may wish to obtain and use a OneCard for defendant-operated facilities at one of the plaintiff’s centres, or at another centre. Thus, I find that it is reasonable for the defendant to be able to advertise the availability of the plaintiff’s centres.”

Kwan, president of the Killarney Community Centre Association, said despite the court decision on the OneCard, the associations are buoyed by the fact two weeks ago the court ordered the park board to cease implementing its takeover plans until the matter can be heard in Supreme Court Nov. 18. In response to the complaints filed against the park board by the associations in Supreme Court, in August the six associations were given eviction notices by the board dated for Dec. 31, 2013.

On Tuesday, Vision Vancouver park board chair Sarah Blyth released a statement regarding Monday’s decision: “Yesterday Mr. Justice Cohen of the Supreme Court of British Columbia released reasons for judgment in the case in which six community associations sought an injunction against the Vancouver Park Board preventing the park board from advertising its

OneCard program in the six community centres the associations are involved with. Mr. Justice Cohen dismissed the associations’ application. This is an important decision, which supports the work of the park board in increasing equity of access across the network of community centres in the city. At this time over 75,000 OneCard passes have been issued to residents across the city.

“The OneCard is free and 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.”