Disgruntled Rutland Park Society member rules himself out as an interim director

David Buckna says he's not been a member long enough to accept an offer from embattled RPS president to join board.

Rutland Park Society chairman Todd Sanderson standing outside the Rutland Centennial Hall.

An attempt by the embattled president of the Rutland Park Society to get one of his sharpest critics to join the society’s board in a bid to help move the RPS forward appears to have failed.

Todd Sanderson, who along with treasurer Wendi Swarbrick are the only two RPS board members left after a mass resignation of directors two weeks ago, said Tuesday he was reaching out to David Buckna to join the board as an interim director until the next scheduled annual general meeting of the society in October.

Sanderson said despite repeated attempts to contact Buckna, he had not received a response as of Tuesday.

Buckna confirmed Sanderson phoned him three times and send “several” emails since last Saturday. He did not say if he had responded to any of them.

On Wednesday, after three emails to Buckna – a well-known and prolific writer of letters and emails to local news organizations—by the Capital News, he admitted he was not eligible to be a director because he had only been a member of the society for four months after letting his membership lapse in 2014.

The RPS constitution says to be eligible to be a director, a person must have been a member for at least five months.

Buckna, who is supporting Swarbrick in a battle with Sanderson over the running of the society, has been a vocal critic of Sanderson and other, now former, board members.

Earlier this week Sanderson said he had suspended Swarbrick after discovering what he said was a conflict of interest and planned to hold a meeting with her Aug 12, to give her an opportunity to explain her side of the story before taking further action. Swarbrick has denied any conflict and said she planned to sue Sanderson for defamation.

She told the Capital News she will not attend the meeting with Sanderson and said society members are planning their own meeting Aug. 9 to elect a new board.

According to the RPS constitution, the support of 3/5 of the board is required to dismiss a director—something that would, on the face of it, appear difficult with only two members of the board left and one of them being the director facing dismissal. But Sanderson said he was acting on legal advice because if there was a conflict and he did not deal with it, he could be sued personally by the incoming board.

Meanwhile, Sanderson said he has repeatedly tried to get a copy of the society’s books from Swarbrick, who as treasurer, according to the constitution, is responsible to “keep the financial records, including books of accounts, necessary to comply with the Society Act of British Columbia.”

But Swarbrick said Tuesday she does not have any financial records. They are held, she said, by a bookkeeper that, she claims, the board hired. Former board members have questioned why Swarbrick could not get the RPS society books from the bookkeeper given that he not only reports to her, but works in the same office building as Swarbrick.

Sanderson, who like Swarbrick is an accountant, said he needs the books in order to have them reviewed by an independent auditor before handing them over to the next board.

He has said he does not plan to seek another term as president of the Rutland Park Society.

The Rutland Park Society operates the Rutland Centennial Hall and has commissioned a consultant’s report on the hall’s future, which has yet to be presented to the RPS board for consideration. The society also has $800,000 it received from the City of Kelowna when it sold the city the adjacent Rutland Centennial Park last year.

That money could be used to either refurbish the existing aging hall or help pay to build a new hall.