The Vancouver park board’s contentious proposal to take control and redistribute community centre surpluses is sparking heated debate at city council.
Green Party Councillor Adriane Carr publicly challenged city manager Penny Ballem at a press conference Tuesday morning, citing a legal opinion by Jonathan Baker stating Ms. Ballem’s decision to exclude Ms. Carr’s motion to look into community centre association finances from council’s agenda was illegal.
“I absolutely believe that the city bylaws do not give that authority to the city manager,” said Ms.Carr after Tuesday’s council meeting.
In an e-mail made public by Ms. Carr, Ms. Ballem wrote the motion was out of order because the matter was in negotiation by the park board, concluding that it would not be allowed on Tuesday’s meeting agenda.
As a civil servant, Ms. Ballem cannot publicly respond to Ms. Carr’s charges.
Ms. Carr re-introduced the motion to Tuesday’s council meeting under new business, where Mayor Gregor Roberston ruled it out of order.
Vision Vancouver councillors characterized Ms. Carr’s conduct as an attack on a public servant, which is a violation of the city’s Code of Conduct.
After the meeting, Ms. Carr apologized to the city manager for implying there was a partisan motive behind her denial but insisted Ms. Ballem did not have the authority to deny her motion.
“Aren’t the elected representatives in charge?” Ms. Carr asked.
Councillor Kerry Jang framed it as an over-reaction, saying many councillors have had a motion deemed out of order.
“Instead of digging your heels in and spouting off like she did, which was unfortunate, you do what a lot of us do. You fix the motion so you can get it on the agenda,” said Dr. Jang.
Ms. Carr’s motion included a request for city staff to provide information on the fundraising activities of community centre associations and the cost of replacing volunteers with paid staff. While Ms. Carr said she would “stay active on this issue,” she also said she recognized the authority the park board has over a new funding model, insisting the information she requested would inform negotiations.
Councillor Heather Deal, a former park board commissioner, felt the request was inappropriate.
“As a former commissioner I can tell you right now, that we really like the authority that the voters of Vancouver give us which is to have those debates, have those discussions and to come up with our own set of questions.”
“I am very disappointed in Councillor Carr in continuing to interfere with park board business.”