The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) is holding an Extraordinary General Meeting on August 8th to elect new board members.
TLC founder Bill Turner gives a positive “thumbs-up” approval with proposed board members from the Save TLC Committee. They all attended a one day workshop and meeting on July 5th in Saanich with other proposed board members, committee members and community leaders.
Standing: Todd Wong, Bill Turner, Ken Millard, Magnus Bien
Sitting: Cheryl Bryce, Elspeth McVeigh, Briony Penn
The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) is one of the important players in land conservancy in Canada. It is a non-profit organization, based on the The National Trust of England, Ireland and Wales. TLC purchases lands and creates environmental convenants in order to lands, and buildings of environmental, scientific, historical, cultural, scenic and recreational value that would otherwise be loss to destruction, demolition, or development.
TLC: What happened?
On March 27, TLC executive director and founder Bill Turner was “fired” without warning or rational explanation. This is only three years after the founding visionary was appointed the Order of Canada for “his tremendous energy and selfless dedication to preserve his province's
natural environment. A realtor, he founded the Land Conservancy of
British Columbia (TLC) to advocate for the protection of the
environment through conservation covenants and ecological gifts.”
According to Save TLC website Q's and A's “At the same time, “another Director gained access to TLC's head offic, once the staff had left for the day, disabled TLC's communications network and changed the locks on the doors.
TLC members were shocked to learn of the events, and of the allegations by the TLC board about the TLC founder Bill Turner. The Save TLC committee was founded to support the return of Bill Turner and senior management staff to TLC. As well, the TLC committee has diligently worked to challenge the TLC board on its allegations, and to inform TLC members about these events.
The Save TLC committee has recruited 11 proposed board members that have worked with TLC in many capacities and/or have related experience and background to helping TLC recover from this current situation.
Both the Save TLC committee and TLC Board have
agreed on a procedure that would see all members of TLC vote to
elect a full 11 member Board at the EGM. All Directors of the current
board will resign at the EGM and those eligible may stand for
I am pleased that Bill Turner asked me, Todd Wong, to be on the Save TLC slate. I have worked with TLC and Bill Turner since December 2005, when TLC became partners with the Save Kogawa House Committee, in an effort to save the childhood home of famous Canadian author Joy Kogawa from demolition.
I have always been interested in the history of BC, and especially its pioneers. I have always loved the natural history of BC, and am very aware of the need to protect its environments and eco-systems. I was honoured that David Kogawa nominated me for the BC Community Achievement Award, citing my community work with the Save Kogawa House Committee, as well as my multicultural community events for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.
Former Founding Director Briony Penn has written a letter and sent it out to friends and members of TLC. Briony writes:
asking me who to vote for regarding the upcoming mail-in ballot for
electing 11 new Board members of TLC The Land Conservancy of BC and
what my thoughts are.
will be receiving a ballot with 23 names. I would recommend this
wonderful team of grassroot individuals with trusted and proven
experience with land trusts that have put their names forward under the
ballot of Save TLC (savetlc.ca) and consider them for the board. Then
vote through the mail-in ballot which you will be sent.
Barry Glickman, professor of biology at UVic
Cheryl Bryce, lands manager for Songhees and spokesperson on First Nations issues of land conservation
Magnus Bein, an ecologist working on the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program in the interior
Alastair Craighead, former Victoria City councillor and cycling activist
Elspeth McVeigh, a Vancouver business woman and historic building specialist
David Merner, a dynamic conflict resolution lawyer and community volunteer
Ken Millard, a veteran lands trust director and Galiano Islander
Carol Pickup a retired Saanich coucillor interested in heritage conservation
Frances Pugh, a farmer and chair of the Saanich Inlet Protection Society
Todd Wong who was active in Vancouver on the Joy Kogawa House and an award winning multiculturalist community organizer
and myself, a Founding Director of TLC and consultant environmental communication/education
have already met as a group and identified our respective skills and
roles that we would bring to restore the organization. All of us are
hard workers in our communities and understand that the financial
security of the organization relies on the relationships we form with
members/donors as this is our biggest asset for the long term financial
and social stability of the organization.
We have all spent time
going over financial statements and addressing the financial
allegations levelled at the senior management by the existing Board
with an independent chartered accountant and a trust lawyer expert that
we hired. The allegations were incorrect and a misinterpretation of the
Charitable Purposes Preservation Act. No law has ever been broken, the
lawyers that resigned were going on verbal advice based on an informal
conversation (one lawyer's) about blending trust fund accounts, which
is common practice for charities. It is only illegal in a lawyer's
practice in some instances e.g., where you need to separate different
client's accounts that are accruing interest. (for full legal opinion,
trust lawyer David John's letter will be on the tlc website tomorrow,
Ironically, the old board did put forward a motion
to sell Keating Farm which would have been illegal under the Act. The
Board perceived they needed to do this to alleviate “crippling debt”
but this again was an incorrect characterization according to the
accountant. The organization was healthy at the point when the staff
were fired. At the end of the day, nothing has waivered our belief in
the skills, competence and commitment of the staff. We did identify
many areas for improvement including the need for Board members to
spend more time fund raising and working directly with the Executive
Director and staff so the two solitudes of Board and Staff never occurs
Part of the biggest problem I believe was that the Board
became more and more distanced from and distrustful of senior staff
because of a difference of interpretation over the financial
circumstances, the law and the selling of properties. The latest slate
of members are already doing their homework and have started on a full
analysis of what went wrong. All of us have worked on projects from the
trenches—either as activists, donors, in political and other supporting
roles. We all know what it takes to make projects successful, attract
members and keep the money rolling in. I believe this slate consists of
people capable of working even in the most challenging circumstances.
That might be what we face August 8th.
Prior to us getting
together last week, Bill Turner had picked me up from the Sunday 6:15
am ferry and we went to Elk Lake to set up the Bottle Drive for TLC. We
spent the next couple of hours picking up and assembling the stands,
bags and tables for the bottle drive. The bottle drive was part of our
commitment to raise money for TLC as the membership contingent of Save
TLC which has been very successful with over $100, 000 raised in a
month. When you are considering which board members to vote for and who
should lead the organization, consider asking the different candidates
who got up at 6 on a Sunday morning to get a bottle drive organized to
raise the funds to save special places?
I know where my vote lies.