Month: September 2019
Recognizing it has been a difficult ten days for you our members and the Bridge River Valley Community Association, and also recognizing that our every action is being interpreted, often misinterpreted, we are providing you a summary of the decisions from our Board Meeting on September 25. Full minutes will be available to all members once they are done and approved. This summary has been approved by our entire Board of Directors. Further updates expanding upon related topics will be made soon.
Steve Oakley resigned from the BRVCA Board of Directors due to a conflict of interest with his role as the interim Area A Director (due to Dir. Courchesne’ resignation). Interim Dir. Oakley remained in attendance and did engage in discussion on one item on the agenda.
On advice of a lawyer, the Board of Directors passed resolutions to explicitly state and define the use of restricted funds in our organization.Due to the decentralized nature of the organization, 95% of our cash on hand are restricted for uses and functions. For example the funds we receive from the SLRD Tax Requisition for the Cemetery cannot be used for any other purpose.
The BRVCA has now updated our policy, through a motion explicitly restricting each source of funds to the use they are generated or funded for. This was necessary to ensure a future board understands that legal repercussions could occur should these funds be used for any other purpose than stated.
On advice of a lawyer, we passed a motion explicitly stating in policy the practice that has existed for membership applications. That practice and now policy is that:
Membership applications must be submitted by the person/corporate entity themselves directly to the Bridge River Valley Community Association – by mail with a cheque, online at link, or in person at the office.
ALL of our 100 membership applications this year prior to Sept. 16 were received directly from the applicant as stated above. On September 16, we received 11 membership forms and cash from a third party, Steve Oakley. Contrary to previous practice and under pressure, we decided to accept these memberships, however our office had to go back and confirmed with each applicant that this was their membership, cash and intent to become a member. The following evening, right before the AGM, a further pile (we estimate 30) were brought in. It was impossible to verify these memberships, brought in by a third party, in order for these people to participate in the Annual General Meeting as members. We have subsequently determined that many of these memberships were actually given to Mr. Oakley up to two weeks before the Annual General Meeting and ALL of them could have been submitted much ahead of the Annual General Meeting and in fact were in Mr. Oakley’s possession when he brought in the other 11 the day before. The conclusion of the Board of Directors that this delay in submitting memberships by Mr. Oakley can only be that it was some kind of strategy or manipulation based on his effort to become President of BRVCA.
Additionally, many of these unsuspecting people who gave Mr. Oakley their Memberships thought that in doing so they were members of the society. For example, we had people asking for dial in numbers to the AGM that we had no idea who they were. They were refused as they were not a member. However, it turns out Mr. Oakely was holding their membership. He however chose to publically via social media posts condemn us in this regard.
To end this abuse of our membership application system, the Board passed a policy motion at this meeting that memberships must be submitted by mail with a cheque, in person or by online (credit card/pay pal). No third party submission of membership applications will be permitted in the future. Future reworking of our bylaws may include a specific statement to this effect as well.
Unfortunately, Mr. Oakley has continued to pursue the BRVCA accepting these membership applications. He brought the same 28 in again this past week. The board has resolved to try and work through these applications individually with these 28 people to request they go through the normal process as described above. The membership applications brought in by Mr. Oakley are not to be processed. The 11 memberships that Mr. Oakley brought in on September 16 have been processed and are members.
Membership in a Non Profit Society – what does it mean? The Board of Directors discussed that membership in a non-profit society shows support of the organization, its mission, mandate and activities. It indicates a wish to be a guiding force in the organization. Membership drives are done by BRVCA in November and December, the start of our fiscal year. It is easy to become a member, use the online form, come into the office or mail it to us with a cheque.
Some people who attended the postponed AGM when they arrived said “I just want to vote”. Some of the 3rd party membership forms also included an attached statement that they wanted to vote for Steve Oakley for President. The board thinks that these were good people who were not fully aware of what it means to be a member of a non-profit society.
We are very thrilled though with the interest in the society and will work to include everyone while educating them on what it means to be a member.
Membership List. We clarified that anyone wishing to view the membership list must apply in writing. We also discussed the Society Act provisions to restrict that access and to indicate that the list may not be used for stated purposes , most particularly to solicit votes for election to our board of directors.
Annual General Meeting was set for Saturday October 12 at noon at the Gold Bridge Community Club. The Agenda for the Annual General Meeting is set out in the bylaws – Director’s Report, Review of Financial Statements, Election of Officers. There is no special business and no additional business (as per the bylaws) can be added to this agenda. No memberships will be accepted in any form after 3 pm on Thursday October 10. Our membership list is time dated so that can be documented. There will no proxy/distance voting as per our bylaws. Corporate Members must designate in writing who is voting for their entity. If the designated individual is also a member, they can also vote as an individual member. That will be established upon verification at the door or prior to the meeting if you email the office.
Voting on most matters will be by show of hands, voting for the Board of Directors will be by secret ballot. This will necessitate that member status be verified at the door and voting (If necessary) will be verified again before ballots are provided. We will have two Scrutineers count the ballots (if necessary). Non-members can attend. Unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated. Unacceptable behavior includes obvious signs of intoxication, speaking loudly and angrily at anyone, and any type of intimidation or harassment, interruption of proceeding or attempting to get off topic. We are exploring having security on site to ensure order, as per Sec. 10 of our bylaws is maintained. Please be aware, much like the postponed AGM, if order cannot be maintained the meeting will be once again postponed or adjourned.
Individuals wishing to be on the Board of Directors will be nominated at the meeting. Campaigning publicly for a seat on the Board of Directors on a non-profit society is inappropriate as it is only the members of the society who will elect. This is a community organization not an election for a government position.
The new Board of Directors will stay after to talk to anyone, listen and record informally any concerns or Input from members.
President Andre Kuerbis resigns! At the end of our meeting our President and Board Member for 9 years, resigned. He cited the public posts on Facebook and elsewhere that ridiculed and embarrassed him and his performance as our President. He also cited the threatening and inappropriate behaviors suffered by his family and our wonderful BRVCA staff member endured at the postponed AGM. Other board members thanked him and also commented on how, even though all of us have various and often opposing views outside of our Board, together we have become trusted colleagues and have built strong relationships. This is a lesson at this time for all of us.
Andre Kuerbis has been a devoted and honest board member of BRVCA, and despite being accused of “not wanting to lose”, willingly walked away after public abuse and ridicule. Thank you so much Andre and we are so sorry it had to happen this way.
If these answers raise questions or if you have ideas please email us at email@example.com and we will try and get you an answer.
#4 There is concern of lack of Financial statements relevant to each Committee/Function (Income and detailed expenditures)
There is one set of financial statements prepared by an accountant for the entire organization. In 2017 we had the statements prepared to a Review Engagement Level (Just shy of an audit) with a clean bill of health.
Each committee prepares a month to month budget each year. Variance reports are reviewed throughout the year to ensure the entire organization and all its various committees and events are performing to budget.
Every two months a transaction report is sent to each committee and event that lists the transactions for those two months in their general ledger accounts. It is then that the Treasurer of that committee/event can catch errors, ask where something is and have it corrected. We require those transaction reports to be sent back to the Financial Administrator with an “a-ok” and if they do not, they are followed up with. The only of our committees without a treasurer is the Bralorne Community Advisory Committee (BCAC). Our Board Treasurer has been performing that function for them.
An Income/Expenses report (Profit and Loss) for all dates is also provided to each committee. This report shows the net balance for that committee or event.
There are also any number of other types of reports that can be produced for Each committee so they have a full understanding of their finances. When asked our Board Treasurer and the Financial Administrator will help and that the Board of Directors will support. We have worked very hard in our decentralized system to improve our reporting and record keeping and to try and respond with what Committee/Event Treasurers need, it isn’t perfect and is very much based on trial and error to produce useful situation.
Currently we have requested the committee budgets and will also be working on the core budget.
#5 The legitimacy of an Executive Ctte and their decision- making without full disclosure to Board/Committee/Community consultation has been considered “sneaky” . There is a feeling that there has been interference from Tabled Directors in other Committees; that there is no discussion as to operations Eg. The Museum.
Within the Board structure, the President as per the bylaws is the Chief Executive Officer 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). Once the immediate issue is dealt with a report is put on an open (or closed if personnel) at the next meeting. 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. This was set up by a motion some years ago and can certainly be revisited to set up their exact parameters in the policy.
We are not certain what the comment re interference actually means and if we receive a more clear description of the concern we will answer it. There is a management agreement between the Bralorne Pioneer Museum Society and the Bridge River Valley Community Association. The BRVCA Heritage Committee oversees the operational aspects of the Museum. The Bralorne Pioneer Museum Society receives a report each year that goes along with the budget. Once the BPM Board approves the budget, through the year Variance reports are produced for the financials. This system has worked very well as we now have heritage experts and people who understand the history of the valley overseeing the work of the Museum and it is beginning to operate in a sustainable fashion. The heritage committee minutes are all available on the website and the Heritage Committee chair is available to meet with anyone. The Heritage Committee meetings are advertised publicly and any member of the public is welcome to attend.
#6 Given misunderstandings that have occurred, and the lack of clarity as to the roles of the Directors, perhaps the Society’s Constitution and By-laws need to be revisited, at the least clarified.
Misunderstanding perhaps, lack of clarity no. And yes, perhaps a lack of communication. The Board of Directors and their responsibilities whether officers or other area clearly laid out in both our bylaws and policy. Those that do not understand or know are welcome to ask questions. Revisiting the Constitution and Bylaws will be in the realm of the next Board of Directors.
#7 It has been suggested that “out of town” representation may re-considered within the Constitution and the possibility of some type of mechanism considered for those who are not necessarily full time residents to participate, given the demographics of Gun Lake and Bralorne.
The BRVCA has members and involves people in all areas of the Bridge River Valley including Tyaughton Lake and Marshall Lake. We also have corporate members and members with primary interests in various areas that we work in. As of Monday, September 16 we had very close to 100 members.
In ten years the BRVCA has had more than 15 people at an AGM maybe once or twice. All directors have been acclaimed in that entire time. There has been no need of a proxy vote or a distance voting system. BRVCA stopped having their AGMs in larger venues because of the cost and the lack of need for such a large venue. That said, given this recent experience, there is a general consensus that the bylaws need to be worked through to be very clear, explicit and tight in their meanings. There is a legal process to do that, and there will be no potential approval until the next AGM.
However, in consulting a lawyer who is an expert in non-profit societies , it needs to be understood that the provincial law and the bylaws of BRVCA grant general authority to the Board of Director’s to make judgement calls. We have done this many times over the last ten years. This past week’s postponed AGM meeting is an example of where the discretion can be used in the best interests of the Society.
If these answers raise questions or if you have ideas please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try and get you an answer.
#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 – email@example.com – 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.