RPS treasurer Wendi Swarbrick (left) with new directors (second left to right) Bob Dhanwant

Rutland Parks Society members elect six new directors and demand president’s resignation

At a chaotic meeting Tuesday night, RPS members say they are taking back control of the society.

Members of the Rutland Park Society say they want embattled president Todd Sanderson to resign. The members, who held their own meeting, without Sanderson, Tuesday night, passed a motion calling on him to quit, saying he had lost the confidence of the membership.

The meeting, chaired by the woman Sanderson is trying to oust from the board, treasurer Wendi Swarbrick, also elected six new directors to replace some of the 10 RPS directors who quit the board July18.

The new directors elected are, Bob Dhanwant, Joe Iafrancesco, Walter Viita, Gene Booth, Chase Jestley and Steve Swarbrick.

The were elected as interim board members to carry the society through to its AGM in October.

The meeting, which Sanderson had said would not be valid but Swarbrick defended as properly advertised and called for by the membership, was, at times, a confused affair where Swarbrick made a point of saying Roberts Rules of Order would be followed but it soon became clear no one seemed to know what they were.

At one point there were four motions on the floor at the same time and at other times, Swarbrick had to be reminded to have a seconder for a motion or a vote on a motion before continuing to the next item.

It was clear that many in the audience were not aware of the society’s bylaws, proposing motions that were clearly against what the bylaws state, including waiving the requirement that a member must be in good standing for at least five months to serve on the board and open vote to anyone voting to anyone who pays the $5 membership fee regardless of whether they live outside the City of Kelowna. The constitution says members must live in Kelowna.

In another instance, several members seemed to believe they had voted Sanderson out when in fact all they had done was call on him to resign.

All of the audience’s anger seemed directed at Sanderson and the way they felt he ran the society.

Sanderson has called a membership meeting for Aug. 23 to elect new directors and has said he does no plan to seek re-election at the October annual general meeting of the society.

OnTuesday, Swarbrick said while she felt the Aug 23 meeting had no validity, she urged RPS members to attend. One audience member shouted out that they should “hijack” Sanderson’s meeting to make sure he does not get new directors that support him.

Swarbrick, who as RPS treasurer is responsible for the society’s finances according to the RPS constitution, had said in the past she did not have access to the society’s books when Sanderson asked for them. They were held by a bookkeeper the board hired, she said.

But on Tuesday, she said she plans to hold an open house where she will lay out the books from the last two years for all members to review.

She also said one of the first items the new board will deal with will be renewing the city licence for the weekly flea market that takes place at the Rutland Centennial Hall.

And, as far as she is concerned, any plan to rebuild the aging hall is a non-starter.

A consultant’s report that lays out pros and cons of rebuilding or renovating the hall has been completed but not presented to the board. It cost $25,000, an expenditure Swarbrick described Tuesday as “unwise” in her opinion.

If the hall is not renovated, a $274,000 federal grant will be lost.

Complicating matters further is Sanderson stated plan to hold a board meeting Aug. 12 to give Swarbrick an opportunity to defend herself against conflict of interest allegations he has made against her. She had said she will not attend, and Sanderson has threatened to dismiss her from the board if she does not appear.

It’s not clear if the six new board members who support Swarbrick will attend.

The RPS constitution says 3/5 of the board must approve the dismissal of a director.

 

 

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