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Vancouver Park Board passes motion to bring in legal counsel

After some heated debate, the Vancouver Park Board passed a motion Monday evening to bring in independent legal counsel, amid the mayor’s motion to quash the elected board. Cecilia Hua has more.

After some heated debate, the Vancouver Park Board passed a motion Monday evening to bring in independent legal counsel, amid the mayor’s motion to quash the elected board.

The motion, introduced by Commissioner Tom Digby, passed by a slim margin, with four councilors voting for it and three voting against it.

Commissioners Digby, Laura Christensen, Brennan Bastyovanszky and Scott Jensen voted to pass the motion, while commissioners Angela Haer, Jas Virdi and Marie-Claire Howard voted to stop it.

Following Digby’s introduction of the motion, he fielded questions and comments for at least 30 minutes. Notably, Haer said she believed Digby should have taken the matter to the city’s integrity commissioner and raised concerns about Digby’s allocated budget of $20,000 for legal counsel.

“But commissioner Digby, you know, you’re a lawyer, that $20,000 is not going to be enough. We’re going to have to put in a lot more, maybe hundreds or thousands of dollars towards this. Where’s that money going to come from?” Haer questioned.

“I’m expecting that the mayor will, in his good sense, withdraw the motion. And then we’re all good,” Digby replied.

“That’s wishful thinking,” Haer concluded.

An amendment by Bastyovanszky was also passed, by the same division of votes, stating that legal advice would be sought on whether quashing the elected board in the middle of its term violated the charter rights of voters.

Other specifications outlined in Digby’s motion included that the chair of the board, on advice of the board, would decide which legal counsel to hire and how to utilize advice given.

Digby’s motion also clarified that all privileged legal advice received will not be shared with anyone beyond the elected Park Board, which includes the mayor, councilors and city staff. Decisions to share information will be decided by a majority vote.

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