Observations from CRCA AGM December 9, 2015 including “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.
The CRCA board are all volunteers. Most were new to the board last year and as such we should recognize their contribution and their efforts in trying to deal with the ownership issues, animosity, misinformation and confusion they were met with in 2014. There is a lot of work and stress involved and people must recognize that. However, there were a number of issues that I feel were not adequately addressed at the recent Annual General Meeting.
Seniors were sold $25 memberships which they were told were voting memberships then denied the right to vote. As there was a quorum of the Board present at the meeting and a large number of ordinary members I believe this could have been attended to by passing a special resolution allowing the seniors present to vote. This was not done. Why? There were not enough copies of the financial statements available nor were most members aware new bylaws had been posted on the CRCA website prior to the meeting. This should have been done by mail as well. Although we are almost halfway into the next fiscal year there were no pro-forma financials presented illustrating the current cash position at the centre. There was no budget presented. I question the need to spend $30,000 on a forensic audit when the auditor of the past couple of years never suggested there was any criminal impropriety in past Boards’ handling of money. The Board has in its possession a business review of the CRCA covering such things as governance, lines of authority, and bylaws to name a few. Why was this not presented to the members? Rocky View was present as they were last year and this year allowed to speak. They explained how the Rec Center was started including how the property ended up under their ownership. They also announced that because of the City of Chestermere withdrew from the 2014 Cost Sharing Agreement that Rocky View has reclassified the CRCA to community status from regional status which will result in less funding. Funding eligibility reinstatement is still a possibility if agreement is met.
As at the 2014 AGM there was much Rocky View bashing. I was embarrassed at the rudeness as well as the lack of appreciation of all the support Rocky View has given our Recreation Center. We may have less recreation facilities than any other bedroom community around Calgary but what we have is very much because of the support of Rocky View over the years. Why “Bite the hand that feeds you”. Also embarrassing was the treatment of one of the nominees for the board by reading hostile and leading email questions of the “have you stopped beating your wife, answer yes or no” category. Anyone wishing to ask questions of this nature should at least have the courage to attend and do so in person. It was unnecessary, unfair, and unbecoming. It is no wonder it is hard to get people to put themselves forward.
Despite the fact that we are striving to be the “Recreation Capital of Alberta” the City of Chestermere was absent from the meeting. As one Rocky View councillor said: “At least we are here.” On the one hand we have Rocky View accused of micro-managing taxpayers’ recreation money and on the other hand we have Chestermere who seems to provide no governance to the CRCA and hands over money when it is in danger of shutting down. The CRCA board and some members think the solution is to own the Rec Center and make it self-sustaining. Although self-sustaining is a worthy goal for a recreation center we need to remember this facility is also our only community center. Self-sustaining right now means funding comes from the users. Would it not be better to try to maintain our municipal funding as well? Why is everyone concerned about ownership when it is public property and belongs to the community (taxpayers)? I heard comments to the effect that “We could replace the $200,000 we were getting from Rocky View if we could just rent out the empty space.” Think about that for a minute. Wouldn’t you rather have both? Couldn’t you use the extra money to keep fees low for the users, especially in the current economic situation?
It is time to stop pointing fingers over the issues surrounding the rec centre. The CRCA, Rocky View, and the City owe it to the users to come to an amicable agreement. Let’s remember that this facility belongs to the users from Chestermere AND Rocky View County and exists to serve them. An excellent suggestion was made to have the CRCA, City of Chestermere, and Rocky View meet with an arbitrator to come to some kind of agreement. However, in order to reach an agreement all parties must be at the table. Rocky View and the City are butting heads over a number of development issues in the area but why not just set those aside and resolve this problem. Rocky View says they are willing to meet and I for one are willing to take them at their word. Where is the City of Chestermere? Sorry for the rant.