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New Westminster suspends Hyack funding, to take over Xmas parade
City lowers boom on Hyack
New Westminster council isn't cancelling Christmas, but it is cancelling any involvement the Hyack Festival Association will have in organizing this year's seasonal festivities. Future events like the Hyack Festival and the International Hyack Parade could also be in jeopardy.
That's one of the consequences of decisions made by council as it finally waded into the imbroglio between feuding factions trying to wrest control of Hyack and the almost $200,000 in grants it receives from the city each year to stage events like the Hyack Festival week and the Christmas Parade of Lights.
On Monday, council said enough was enough.
It's requested that Hyack turn over all financial records from the past 12 months which will then be turned over to an independent auditor.
The city will also request the registrar of the BC Society Act to conduct an investigation of the Hyack Association board and society to determine whether proper procedures were followed as the opposing factions called meetings, then cancelled them, then went ahead with them and ultimately fired and appointed members to the board.
Until Hyack's affairs are sorted out, the city is also suspending any future funding to the organization.
Coun. Bill Harper said Hyack's internal conflicts mean the city has no idea who on Hyack it should be dealing with. So the city, along with sponsors and partners like the Downtown Business Improvement Association and Tourism New Westminster will take control of organizing some sort of Christmas "celebrations" in the downtown neighbourhood in December.
"They (Hyack) can't put on a parade without us," said Harper, adding he couldn't say whether there's enough time to still organize a parade for this Christmas. "We're really hoping we can. It could be a parade or it could be something else. It's unfortunate that this thing got delayed and delayed."
But the man calling himself president of the Hyack Festival Association, Gavin Palmer, said it's business as usual for his group.
"We have a parade committee set up, we've applied for permits," said Palmer. "If the city doesn't think we can do it, that's up to them."
Harper said if the audit and the registrar's investigation haven't sorted out Hyack's mess by January, when the city allocates grant money to various associations and societies, it could put more events at risk.
"Next year we'll have to play by ear," said Harper. "We'll have to make that decision as things play out."
While Palmer concedes Hyack has "a governance issue that has to be dealt with," he said the association is putting the final touches to its grant application for the coming year and planning for community events continues.
"What we deliver, we continue to do that as we always have been," said Palmer, who welcomed the audit and investigation into Hyack's affairs.
"Bring it on," he said. "We have good people in place. We have done nothing wrong."
Harper said the conflict amongst Hyack board members has put a "black mark on the city," but "once the events are put on as they normally are, I don't think the citizens care who's putting them on, as long as they're being put on."