By Scott Strasser, August 30 2016 —
Students’ Legislative Council voted unanimously in favour of a resolution to increase the Students’ Union’s “MacHall defence fund” by $350,000 on August 30.
The resolution required two approvals before being passed, as per the SU’s bylaws. The first reading occurred on August 16 and the vote was nearly unanimous, with no votes against the increase and just one abstention, from arts representative Peter Friedrichsen.
According to SU vice-president operations and finance Branden Cave, the extra $350,000 will help fund the SU’s dispute with University of Calgary administration over MacHall ownership for the next six to 10 months.
“Since March we’ve been able to see how much we’ve spent,” Cave said. “We’ve been talking with our lawyers about what the next steps are and the best estimates around how much that time is going to cost,” he said.
SU president Stephan Guscott gave his support to the $350,000 fund increase before the final vote took place.
“This will allow us to pursue any option that we can to try and reach a conclusion,” Guscott said. “We don’t know what the university is spending, but it’s [likely] significantly higher than this.”
As of August 5, the ownership dispute over the building has cost the SU $330,781 in legal fees.
In March, last year’s SLC approved a $500,000 “MacHall defence fund” to continue funding the lawsuit. The money was non-budgetary and came from the SU’s reserves, which currently equal around $11 million.
While there is still over $160,000 left in the original fund, Cave said the SU is trying to be proactive for the future.
“Whether we like it or not, we’re in a legal battle with the university to defend MacHall and it’s going to cost us money regardless, whether it’s going through the courts or if we find a solution another way,” Cave said.
The SU and university administration already went to court twice this spring over an injunction that would maintain the current management agreement of MacHall for the duration of the lawsuit — an agreement that gives the SU control of the building and roughly $2 million in annual revenue from MacHall’s third-party tenants.
Cave said the injunction is the first step of what will be a lengthy legal battle.
“The best way to look at this, is the injunction decision is around management and the $2 million in revenue coming in from the third-party tenants. The ownership is about the long-term fight for protecting the student investment that’s been made in the building,” he said.
As of August 30, the verdict regarding the SU’s injunction application has not been provided by Justice Kim D. Nixon, the Court of Queen’s Bench judge presiding over the application.