Sharon Birnie

Status quo on Langley seniors board

Little has changed on the seniors’ centre board after the AGM.

The status quo reigned at the Langley Seniors Resource Centre after a Sept. 9 vote saw a group of unhappy members largely fail to place their candidates on the society’s board.

The annual general meeting drew a crowd of more than 160 members, who came with about 30 proxy votes for members who couldn’t make it.

After a two-hour meeting that was sometimes contentious, sometimes conciliatory, the ballots showed that the incumbent board members had largely taken the 10 seats up for election.

Elected were:

• Les Roberson

• Keith MacDonald

• Barb Vincent Woods

• Lee Douglas

• Marilyn Anderson

• Steve Ferguson

• Frank Yang

• June Strandberg

• Norma Byrne

• Susan Maitland.

Only Maitland, a nurse and manager of Harrison Landing, was on a slate supported by the disgruntled members.

On flyers handed out outside the centre, the opposition members had also expressed support for Ferguson and Anderson.

The meeting followed a tumultuous year for the seniors’ resource centre.

In May, the board called a special meeting and asked for a vote of confidence after a petition critical of their actions circulated.

The board won the vote and added several new interim members to bring up their numbers.

Outgoing board chair Shauna Sailer spoke about some of the issues the centre has dealt with, and updated the members.

Among other changes, over the summer executive director Shelley Wells employment was terminated. Wells filed a Worksafe BC complaint, which was denied but is now under review, Sailer said.

Staffing issues and the loss of some longtime staff members have also caused unrest.

Many of the changes were caused as the board tried to deal with a deficit of almost $100,000 in 2014.

At the board meeting, former centre director Sharon Birnie said she was there to stand up for staff who have been “pushed out, let go, and maligned” in recent months.

She said there has been too much staff turnover and that some staffers who left did so under duress.

Birnie had asked earlier this year that her name be taken off the main hall at the centre, named to honour her.

Lee Douglas, who also ran and won a seat on the board, said she hoped Birnie would reconsider having her name removed.

“The memories of all your hard work and dedication are still here,” she said. “You are a legacy to this centre, you started this centre.”

Sailer said there will be a review of the society’s bylaws and constitution.

A common complaint over the last few months has been that the board was violating the existing rules on dealing with members.

Although the meeting resulted in little change on the board, it was the first time in years that there was a secret ballot, including write-in names.


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