North Peace Cultural Society heading to Municipal Affairs over City taking over management of Cultural Centre
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. -- UPDATE: The City of Fort St. John has published an open letter about the North Peace Cultural Centre here.
Questions and frustration have been flowing through the Chair of the North Peace Cultural Society, Connie Surerus' mind.
Since the City Of Fort St. John handed the North Peace Cultural Society a notice that their management agreement is ending over the North Peace Cultural Centre, she decided to take action.
"This is ridiculous. I am so angry right now. My time for the last couple months has been spent on this. This nonsense. The terms of that agreement are still in place, regardless of the fact that it lapsed. Because they never gave us an opportunity to actually renew the agreement, prior to the agreement lapsing." Surerus said.
The centres' previous agreement with the city ended in November. Both the city and cultural board couldn't come to terms on a renewal after about nine months of negotiations. Although, initial talks began in September.
City of Fort St. John's Chief Administrative Officer, Milo MacDonald, says the reason for this takeover is to enhance cultural services in the city.
"There are opportunities to deliver across a broader geographical range. With the investments that we've made in the community there's kind of an opportunity to deliver cultural services across the entire community on several different venues." Those venues include Festival Plaza and the Centennial Park stage.
One major issue the cultural society is taking issue with is the city taking over so shortly. Surerus says the city should have given them 12 months notice, as it says in the agreement.
The publicly available agreement reads:
"Termination without Reason - Either party may, without reason, terminate this Agreement upon 12 months’ notice to the other party."
However, the next clause underneath mentions what happens when the agreement is not renewed or replaced:
"Automatic Termination with Lease - This Agreement will automatically terminate if the Lease terminates for any reason or expires without being extended or replaced."
CAO MacDonald would not directly comment on his view of the contract.
With Surerus saying it's a breach of contract, she is looking into filing a complaint with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs about the city's handling of the takeover.
"I see it as misconduct. and in the meantime, they have to honour the agreement that was signed. That means if they don't want to deal with us, they don't want us around, then issue us a 12 month notice."
When the city is scheduled to take over, MacDonald hopes anyone already using the Centre will still have the ability to use it. The city is scheduled to complete the transition in September.