Members of the Rutland Park Society have refused to endorse a call by the RPS treasurer and five directors to ask the new president, vice-president and secretary to step down after less than two months on the job.
In a vote held Thursday night at a hastily called general membership meeting, president Ross Kulak, vice-president Dawn Theissen and secretary David Buckna were asked to remain in their positions by members in a 27-10 vote.
Directors Bob Dhanwant, Traci Savel, Suhkdev Goraya, Steve Swarbrick, Chase Jestley and treasurer Wendi Swarbrick had asked the trio to resign after passing a motion of non-confidence in them.
The RPS members at Thursday’s meeting also voted to have Kulak, Theissen and Buckna given signing authority within seven days, something Swarbrick, as treasurer, already has.
The membership also passed a motion calling for release of financial statements for September, October, November and December 2016.
“I’m relieved,” said Kulak after the vote, adding despite the attempt by the six other board members to oust him, Theissen and Buckna, he was willing to continue working with them.
Whether his opponents are wiling to do the same, however, remains to be seen. Asked if they would, Savel refused to comment, Goyaya said he would have to “wait and see” but would not say for what or for how long, and Wendi Swarbrick called Kulak incompetent.
During the meeting, Kulak said he has retained a lawyer and is considering legal action against another board member for defamation. Prior to the meeting, Kulak identified that board member as Wendi Swarbrick.
The infighting may have also put a large portion of the $272,000 federal Canada 150 grant that the society had secured to help pay for renovations to the Rutland Centennial Hall, at risk.
Swarbrick said because of inaction by the board, she does not think the society will meet the federal deadline of March 31 to show work is underway on the renovations. She said she feels the society will lose $136,000 of the grant.
The society has already been given an extension to the original deadline to show Ottawa the renovations have started.
But Theissen disagreed with Swarbrick’s opinion, saying she fels there is time to start some aspects of the work and show the renovations are underway.
The society also has $800,000 earmarked for the work that it received from the sale of Rutland Centennial Park to the City of Kelowna last year.
That sale, and accusations of perceived wrong-doing by the former RPS board, lead to vocal criticism by some RPS members that resulted in all but former president Todd Sanderson and Swarbrick resigning last summer. A subsequent power struggle between the two was won by Swarbrick.
A new board was elected in October with her on it and Kulak was elected president by the members at that time.
But it did not take long for the in-fighting on the board to start again, with the dissidents complaining about Kulak’s operating style, the fact he spoke to the media shortly after being elected telling reporters he wanted to help heal the wounds suffered by the society in the acrimonious ouster of Sanderson, and his percieved ability to do the job of president. Buckna’s minute taking style, massive amounts of emails and release of private information about another board member were criticized. At the meeting, it was not made clear why the six wanted Theissen to resign.
After Thursday’s meeting Kulak said despite his announcement was considering legal action against Swarbrick, he plans to phone her today to extend an olive branch in order to keep working together on the board.
He added despite the attempt to remove him as president, he does not dislike the board members behind the move.