08/21/2013 09:05 EDT | Updated 10/21/2013 05:12 EDT

Vancouver park board funding dispute taken to court

Six Vancouver community associations have filed a petition asking the B.C. Supreme Court to stop the city's park board from taking over their operations.

In the petition filed Monday, the Hastings, Kensington, Kerrisdale, Killarney, Riley Park Hillcrest and Sunset community centre associations are seeking an injunction to stop the board from implementing its new OneCard system in their facilities.

Jesse Johl, president of the Riley Park Hillcrest Community Association, says his association and the five others who filed the petition believe the new system will kill the community centres they represent.

"Basically, this was the only option," he said. "The parks board and the City of Vancouver basically forced us into this."

For decades, individual community associations in Vancouver have worked with the park board, but ultimately have been in control of revenues generated by their community centres.

But in February, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation voted to pool revenues from community centre associations and implement a universal membership system, called OneCard. The system is already being rolled out across 23 park board facilities, and the board has said the bulk of the city's 24 community centres have signed on to the OneCard plan.

The board said its new model will create a more equitable system across the city, but the six community centre associations opposing the change claim the system violates existing joint operating agreements between the associations and the board.

Johl says the six hold-outs believe the board's actions are causing them financial harm that is threatening their future survival.

"If the people of Vancouver want to keep their programs and services the way they are, then this is not the way to do it," he said.

In addition to the injunction, the centres are also seeking damages for "unjust enrichment."

Earlier this month, the park board said it aims to have the OneCard system in place across the entire recreation network, including all the community centres, by Sept. 1.