After three years of negotiations and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, CJSW operating agreement with the Students' Union is inches away from completion. In spite of the agreement's dubious history of roadblocks and delays, both CJSW and the SU consider it a done deal.
"In 2002 we got our lawyer on it," said CJSW Station Manager Chad Saunders. "The irony of it is that it is almost three years to this day that our lawyer got an email saying here is the operation agreement attached. I think we are really close. Want to take a look?"
In addition to scheduling problems between the SU elections, and CJSW's funding drives, a number of roadblocks slowed the agreement.
"The easy stuff was what CJSW wanted from the SU and what the SU expected from CJSW," observed Saunders. "You'd think those things would be the most contentious, but it was the things like the media bylaws saying that the SU owns all the assets of CJSW Radio. Maybe back in the day there was some relevancy to that, but if they said they owned our assets, that was contravening our bylaws with respect to the Societies Act."
According to Alberta's Societies Act, CJSW needs to have ownership over its assets to be able to exist and fund raise as a society. The SU's security interest--wherein it gets ownership of CJSW's assets if the station goes bankrupt or decides to close its doors--gives the SU the security it demands and CJSW the autonomy it needs.
Saunders views the agreement as a necessary chapter in CJSW history.
"The operating agreement is about as sexy as your underpants, it's not something you share with the world," joked Saunders. "Sometimes you wear gonch or boxers, no one really cares--they just hope you are wearing something. Now we have our underpants. It's not sexy, but it's done."
From start to finish, SU Vice-President Operations and Finance Greg Clayton estimates the total cost of legal fees to be in the tens of thousands of dollars, and is also glad the operating agreement is almost finalized.
"It was expensive but it was something that needed to be done," said Clayton. "CJSW has outgrown that space, and they really need the space to continue to grow and become a powerful player in this city's media."
If the SU media bylaw amendment passes second reading next week--and all observers say it will--CJSW could start planning for the move to its new space on the third floor of MacEwan Student Centre as early as next month. The move will take place in conjunction with NUTV's relocation and the creation of a new multi-faith centre.
This year, the SU and CJSW have made the renovations of MSC a top priority, pushing the final agreements and arrangements under the wire in the last weeks of the current SU's term.
"This was a priority [SU VP Events Alex Vyskocil] and I had from the beginning of the year," said Clayton of his commitment to the agreement. "If we were going to complete one thing this year, were going to get this thing done."