By Keith Liggett
There is a gross mis-understanding in the discussion about the eviction of the Blue Toque. This eviction is most likely solely the action of the Board of the Arts Station.
Historically, the City has no prior say over the sub-lease of the space to the Blue Toque or any other Arts Station space. The City merely approves the lease, a rubber stamp, after the Board of the Arts Station negotiates the lease. This is the same with all leases and actions of the Arts Station Board. The City nominally approves them after the fact. The City deliberately does not get involved in negotiations. The Arts Station Board acts autonomously.
The paragraph in the eviction notice from Rockies Law is a legal red herring.
“FDAC signed a new lease for the Arts Station with the City of Fernie on January 11, 2024 (the “Lease”). The Lease expressly prohibits subletting of the Arts Station without the express written consent of the City of Fernie, which the City has not provided.”
This paragraph is willfully deceptive trying to deflect the onus of the eviction on the City.
So. . .
The Arts Station Board decided to terminate the lease with the Blue Toque, not the City. So, what to do about the Arts Station Board evicting the Blue Toque?
At this point, an interesting step would be for a concerned individual (Jonathan MacGregor who started the Change.org petition would be a logical person) to ask for the minutes of any Board meetings where the future of the Blue Toque was discussed and Board discussions of options for the use of the space. It is likely the Arts Station Board will refuse to provide the minutes saying the discussions were ‘in-camera.’
Next step. The Arts Station is subject to the BC Freedom of Information Act and thus an FOI request. The formal FOI request should include all the pertinent minutes, all Arts Station Board correspondence (email and other) among themselves (this is not considered in-camera), correspondence with the Blue Toque, and any correspondence with the City concerning the Blue Toque lease. Perhaps request any Board correspondence with parties that might be interested in leasing the space in the future.
From the Act:
“This Act applies to all records in the custody or under the control of a public body, including court administration records.”
This is a time for transparency and accountability. Open up the process. As we discovered in the Max Turk debacle and the current objections to the Fire Hall placement, transparency in action is paramount. The Arts Station Board is a public entity that has a responsibility to the community to provide discrete services. For them to single-handedly decide to trash one of those services without any sort of due process is beyond the pale.
The Arts Station Board has a community responsibility to act in a transparent and responsible manner.
It is time to open up the process of the Fernie and District Arts Council (The Arts Station) for the benefit of the community.
Keith Liggett has a writing career with one foot in the literary and the other seeking a different angle within traditional journalism. Read more from Keith.