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#1 There appears to be concern over lack of transparency on the Board’s decision-making, and expenditures, i.e. which “volunteers” are getting paid, and when not.? Eg. Winterfest for one :
Were some individuals volunteering, while others were “volunteering to get paid”? Clarity is essential ahead of time.
After 10 years Winterfest has become a well run and successful event and we can afford to pay staff to plan and work the event and contribute to the economic development of the community. The paid positions were advertised in the Mountain Telegraph and on the Facebook page. We still rely on our wonderful volunteers to help make the event happen. Winterfest also gives back to the community and this year we donated $1,700 to various societies and committees in the valley. The Museum received a donation from Winterfest of $500. The Winterfest Dinner was planned and staffed by volunteers Debbie Demare, Geoff & Karen Playfair & crew with the exception of Janis Irvine and the DJ who were paid. The dinner silent auction raised an additional $400 which was donated to the Museum.
We are proud of our staff and volunteers and this is a list of them:
Paid Staff – Jenny James, Emilie Larsen, Jane Roberts, Bruce Vernon
Event Volunteers – Michelle Nortje, Andre Kuerbis, Debbie Demare, Sal Demare, Jessica Holden and our concession helpers Audyn, Maddy, Lucy and Adia
Event set up/take down Volunteers – Robin James, Claude Carrier, Bill Fedderly, Doug Oswald
We also rely on volunteers to prepare the ice for the event and this takes many weeks of daily checking on the ice and seeing what work needs to be done. On behalf of these volunteers we make donations to several organizations in recognition of their work. Donations totalling $400 were made to Trails Committee, Gun Lake Fire Protection Society & Bridge River Valley Snowmobile Club on behalf of Sal Demare, Troy Vanloon, Claude Carrier, Al Leighton, Michelle Nortje, Debbie Demare and Steve Oakley.
Donations totalling $300 were also made to the Trail Committee in recognition of volunteer time donated by Sal Demare & Doug Oswald to fabricate the new fire pit and the BBQ trailer.
Donation of $100 was also made to Gun Lake Fire Protection Society in recognition of assistance provided for first aid and parking.
#2 More importantly, concern has been expressed as to whether Sal has been receiving $$s to head up the Trails Committee, while other workers have not? While one understands the need for someone with skills to undertake the crossing of terrain and negotiating with First Nations, if indeed there has been remuneration, spell it out. It is assumed, however that it would appear in the annual Financial Statements. (One may conclude that there is a concern of nepotism being the cause for concern?)
I Sal DeMare have never been paid for any of the work I have performed or in representing the BRVCA Trail Committee. I find that having this concern even out there, is very disheartening. I am sure that people that really know me, know how much I volunteer for the Bridge River Valley Community in the many different forms that I do. I will however explain in bullet form so there is a clear understanding of my volunteer work and how I actually give a lot more back to the community more than people realize:
- A little background to the Trail Committee first. There was originally the Bridge River Valley Non-Motorized Trail Society that I was a member of and in and around 2010 it folded unfortunately. That Society had started down the path to Legally Establish the Trails with the government . In 2014 I was asked by the BRVCA to start a Trail Committee as I had just finished two years as the President of the Gun Lake Fire Protection Society. They needed this committee as the Tourist Info Booth’s number one request was where were the trails, up to 70% of all the requests. The only thing they had was an outdated maps from back in the 1990’s and a lot of those trails were not in usable shape. There was also the Trail Ventures Map of the then Spruce Lake Protected Area. I agreed and we started a committee and we recruited committee members for the different user groups and from all the areas in the valley. The Trail committee is for all user groups. We currently are at 6 committee members. We got going and brainstormed 57 trails that we wanted to Legally Establish via Section 56 – 57 with the government so we could secure funding as most organizations will not fund trails that are not Legally Established due to liability issues. Another reason is that legally you cannot manage a trail without a Section 56. A Section 57 gives you only the authority to maintain and build trails but not to manage them. We did manage to secure back then $20,000 dollars just to collect data for submission to the government. When we went to the Government with our proposal, they verified the trails would be o/k to work on but that we needed to communicate with the St’at’imc First Nations as part of the process. We needed their approval to move forward. We did and it has been a slow process with many meetings, presentations, phone calls and online meetings with the Lillooet Tribal Council (LTC). We have managed to get a signed Partnership Agreement MOU to manage the trails and also a Pilot Project for 6 of trails to Legally Establish them. This has been a long 5 year process of communications with the LTC! Shortly we will be performing the first Cultural Heritage Reconnaissance performed by the LTC Heritage Crew and we will be paying for this work on the Kingdom Lake to Lost Lake Trail. There has been a lot of documentation that goes along with this that has been built over these years. We still are only part way through the Trail Management Plan development as it needs more work. All the paid work that will be performed on the trails will be split as close to 50-50 as possible between the LTC participating communities and Bridge River Valley community. We have made two very important commitments to the LTC. First is that we will not spend any of our funds on trails until we have an agreement and projects approved. We have held to that. That is the reason we have not paid anyone for any trail work yet. The second is that we created the Bridge River Valley Region on the Trailforks Online Trail Map program as it has up to date information regarding the trails. There were many trails on it already when we created the region and it took a lot of volunteer time to clean them all up with proper names and descriptions etc.. Two of the us on the committee did this work. The commitment was that the Trail Committee would not add anymore trails to it but if people added them we would vet them as it is a user based program whereby anyone can add trails to it. We make sure that trails that should not be on there do not go on such as trails that go through private property etc. We will as we move forward be able to add trails though. Integrity and trust are some of the First Nations values and we have shown that! We also have an agreement to manage Trailforks for BC Parks in our region. We also work with the Forest Licensees to mitigate impact to the trails in cut blocks with signed MOU’s. We currently have over $50,000 in our account with the BRVCA and have most of it restricted as the funding applications and partners were very specific to what is was to be spend on.
- The work with the LTC is very important as there are other recreation opportunities waiting for the Pilot Project to be successful so they can use the MOU template with some modifications to work for them with the LTC.
- I am also Chair of the Training Committee and a member of the Valley Wide Forestry Committee and the Bear Awareness group.
- With all of this I have put in many many hours of volunteer work for the Trail Committee as you can imagine. I have never been reimbursed or paid for the conferences I have attendant, meetings, travel, documentation, work with the forest licensees, organizing, trail work and the list goes on! In the contrary I actually give back to the Trail Committee by volunteering in the community for various individual’s and events. Some of these are with individuals where I have been asked to guide people in the park and they want to pay me and I ask them to donate to the Trail Committee which they do, shuttling tourists and similar they donate to the Trail Committee, help individuals with some home issues and they also donate to the Trail Committee, Pig Roasts again donations go to the Trail Committee, volunteering for Winterfest working on rinks and other functions which the funds go to the Trail Committee and the list goes on.
- The BRVCA finances are all in the General Ledger Format and when we created the Trail Committee Accounts we laid out for income and expenses and with all the categories we felt we needed. We get transaction reports that we review on a regular basis to make sure they are all correct. There is one report that has all income and expenses from the start of the Trail Committee. If anyone wants to see any of the BRVCA General Ledgers and see all the receipts and cheque’s etc. associated with them that go back 7 years, you are welcome to.
- I have also donated to the BRVCA a projector and screen so we could have effective meetings.
- With First Nations Reconciliation, I have made a lot of relationships through all the meetings and interactions with them and learned a lot about them and their values for sure. I personally have donated a local First Nations painters (he is now a friend) Grizzly Bear Painting to the new hotel at Shalath, donated a new small mountain bike to a First Nations youth who was in and out of the hospital and also the same projector screen that is in the Gold Bridge Community Hall to the T’it’q’et Band Community Hall.
- I also volunteer for the Bralorne Church, Haylmore Heritage Site, Cemetery, Community Resource Building, Kiosks etc. I have never been paid for any of this volunteer work and on many occasions I have worked alongside workers that are being paid!
- I also research, purchase items and travel to pick them up for projects for the BRVCA and get reimbursed for the purchase for them but not the research and travel to get them.
- As you can see I have done a lot of travelling and never once have I been reimbursed for fuel or wear and tear on my vehicle as I have never asked for it.
I hope you can see why the concern expressed is disheartening to me and I am not the only BRVCA volunteer that could tell a similar story!
BRVCA Trails Committee Chair – Sal DeMare - firstname.lastname@example.org – 250-238-2248
#3 There appears to be some concern as to Executive Ctte making decisions without due discussion/approval with other Directors and members. Perhaps the best way of ameliorating this perception would be to use the Mountain Telegraph to post Notice of Meetings, given time constraints, but to definitely post Minutes and Resolutions. From experience, the Constitution and By-laws as well as Minutes and annual financial statements are often on a Society’s Website. This may be something to implement.
The Bridge River Valley Community Association was created, following community consultation as a decentralized umbrella model in its operating structure. The model is best exemplified by the Hornby Island Residents & Ratepayers Assoc. (google it).
This came about because many of the societies in the Bridge River Valley were non-functional due to very low full time population and difficulties with capacity and understanding of what is needed to run a non-profit society.
As a result, the BRVCA as these societies folded and asked to come under the umbrella, created functional, semi-autonomous committees to undertake the functions that were previously carried on by other societies.
The societies that folded include the Bralorne-Bridge River Valley Community Association, the Bralorne Church Society, and the Bralorne TV society amongst others. The Bridge River Valley Trails Committee had already dissolved. These societies were pretty much defunct and the BRVCA assisted them in dissolving and coming under the umbrella. It is important to note that while the BRVCA has a community mandate and involves many volunteers, the underlying legal structure is that of a non-profit society driven its membership not the public.
The Board of Directors exists as the necessary legal entity so that these committees/functions/events can operate with the least amount of administrative stuff they have to do. This is not your typical hierarchical non-profit operating structure. The model is based on the necessity of low population, low skills and capacity for non-profit stuff. Something had to be done differently to survive and move forward on community agendas.
The BRVCA Board of Directors created a policy to describe their role, this policy was circulated to committees over a period of several months, any input applied and finally approved.
Here is the link to that policy: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eK_KPJLh1ysHS8tofCWu4stQLL6VJZsW/view?usp=sharing
The BRVCA Board of Directors is a governance board, not a working board. The working part is what our committees do. The board looks after legal, risk, financial accountability, policy, communications and social media.
Operationally The Board is directly responsible for our office staff and the Tourism Info Booth (which is now located at Haylmore Heritage Site). In recent years, they have also been the oversight on the Winterfest and Canada Day events.
Within the Board structure, the President as per the bylaws is the Chief Executive Officer and supervises the other officers on the Board, Vice – President, Treasurer, Secretary. In our case we also set up a supervision committee which operates when we do not have a paid supervisor. At various times through the years it has been one, two or three people. The President, the other officers and the supervision committee have at times met to address immediate and emerging operational issues. An example would be an employee who is having challenges, an immediate liability problem that crops up or administrative/logistical challenges (such as what happened at the AGM). However, governance decisions as per the policy are never made by the “executive” group as it is referred to. Those decisions have always been made by the Board and are well documented in ten years of minutes.
It is suggested in the above comment that Minutes, Resolutions, Annual Financial Statements and so on be posted on a website. All of these documents are available upon request by a member of the society. This is as per a previous decision some time ago of the Board of Directors, however it is certainly a discussion that can occur at the Board and with the Committees again. It should be noted that all of the committees, where the vast majority of the “work” of the organization is done, have ALL of their key documents, terms of references and minutes on the website. Please remember the vast majority of the actions of BRVCA come through the committees and not the Board of Directors.