Corner Brook community centre heads to court to fight NLHC eviction
The board of directors of WestRock, a community centre in Corner Brook, has asked for an injunction to stop Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp. from terminating support to the centre.
On Feb. 25, NLHC issued a 30-day notice to WestRock - which provides after-school and recreation programs to youth in the community — to get out of its premises.
New entity to be created
John Ottenheimer, the chief executive officer and chair of NLHC, said the decision was made after he met with present and past board members in Corner Brook.
This was a situation which we felt prompted some change.- John Ottenheimer
"I could sense very clearly that there was a degree of frustration and discomfort with the arrangement as it existed," Ottenheimer told CBC News.
"Upon review of these circumstances, I felt along with some of the staff members at Newfoundland and Labrador Housing that this was a situation which we felt prompted some change and we created a new entity."
That new entity will be called Vine Place, and is expected to be operational on April 1.
It's meant to be a fresh start with a new board of directors, with NLHC saying there will be no change in services offered to Corner Brook families.
WestRock seeking to prevent director's termination
WestRock is asking the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador to stop the Feb. 24 vacancy notice.
The injunction application also seeks to stop the removal of Ben Fitzgerald as executive director, as well as means to ensure that WestRock gets its operating money.
WestRock said it needs a year to vacate the building - not 30 days - and that it believes NLHC has breached the terms and conditions of its agreement by not providing an annual operating cost of $175,000.
In an affidavit, Fitzgerald says he's skeptical the same level of service will be available to the public through Vine Place.
Fitzgerald goes on to state that WestRock receives funding from outside sources in the amount of $875,000. This comes from "in kind" funding each year, and helps provide programming to children, seniors and the disabled.
Fitzgerald says the current donors will not continue to financially support the centre if he is terminated.
Ottenheimer told CBC that the previous board of directors "could have done more in carrying out its duties as a board of governance, as a board of oversight, which of course is the mandate of any board of directors in such an arrangement."
The injunction application will be argued in court on Friday.