City considering legal action after removal of community centre kitchen equipment

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The City of Parksville is considering legal action after the Parksville Community Centre Society (PCCS) removed kitchen equipment from the community centre.

The removal caused an issue when PASS-Woodwinds Alternate School students arrived to find the dishwasher, among other things, missing on Dec. 16.

“We have a situation where the PCCS removed the assets, that even their lawyer acknowledged were paid for by the city and left the PASS-Woodwinds students unable to continue with their course,” said Mayne.

A teacher was concerned about the lack of sanitizing equipment, particularly because of COVID-19, and called Island Health to ask if he needed to use the sanitizer, according to Keeva Kehler, the city’s chief administrative officer. She said the city was informed by School District 69’s treasurer the day of the incident.

“This was a very important year-end class where students would be preparing holiday meals for their families and there was concern this would not proceed as planned without the expected equipment being there,” said Kehler. 

The school district said the teacher was able to modify the cooking class menu and move forward, but needed to travel back and forth between the Parksville Community Centre (PCC) and Ballenas Secondary School to sanitize utensils and cooking pans, Kehler said in her report during council’s Jan. 18 meeting.

“There is a lot of false information in that report presented to council,” said Duane Round, a PCCS director. 

Round said he was advised not to speak about the equipment because it has become a legal matter. The society’s president, Holly Heppner, did not respond to Oceanside News’ request for comment.

“The PASS-Woodwinds program and all other programs that were taking place at the community centre were cancelled by the City of Parksville — not the PCCS, by not renewing the operating agreement,” said Round.

Council voted to add $25,000 to the 2021 budget to replace the kitchen equipment, as well as send a letter to the PCCS requesting the equipment be returned within a week. For now, the cooking class in unable to proceed in the PCC kitchen.

“The children at PASS-Woodwinds cannot continue in any form without a safety inspection occurring to address gas odours that were previously reported for the society to address, make safe exposed wires and replace critical equipment,” Kehler said. 

The society also removed utensils, freezer racks and an ice machine, according to Kehler.

“We have a bill of sale that says the dishwasher, we paid for — the ice machine, we paid for. Both those pieces of equipment are gone,” Mayne said.

The city’s lawyer was initially told the equipment would be returned, according to Mayne.

“It’s wrong to put these kids in the middle of this debate. The best thing you could have done — anyone could have done — was say, alright we disagree with you on who owns this. You disagree with us, but let’s leave the equipment where it is for now so these kids can continue,” he said.

The PCCS contract with the city expired on Dec. 31 of last year. The city said it intends to work with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island (BGCCVI) to lease the building in the future. The city and the BGCCVI have signed a letter of intent to prepare a joint grant application to renovate the facility. The terms of use for the PCC have not yet been finalized.

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