News
3 min

New West Pride’s growing pains

Conflict and poor record-keeping can't mar success, organizers say

New Westminster Pride president Wade R Alexander, vice-president Shelly Reinhart, secretary and interim treasurer Brian Winger, former acting bookkeeper Nancy Kato and volunteer Tory Inglis. Credit: Shauna Lewis photo

Despite growing pains, poor financial record-keeping and some conflict among directors, New Westminster’s Royal City Pride Society (RCPS) has had a very successful year, organizers say.

“New West Pride 2011 was a huge success,” interim president Wade R Alexander told the 30 members who gathered for the group’s annual general meeting on Dec 14.

More than 1,200 people attended the second annual Pride festivities in New Westminster in August, up from just 300 the previous year.

Greater attendance meant more money raised.

“We made a profit,” announced Nancy Kato, former RCPS acting bookkeeper and communications coordinator.

In 2010/2011 the RCPS made $17,575 through a combination of $8,165 in fundraising revenue, $1,595 from personal donations and the rest from sponsorship and miscellaneous income. With expenditures totalling $16,871, the organization made a profit of just over $700, which was added to the carried-over 2010 balance of $1,600.

But Kato says the RCPS has more money in its account than the financial statements claim. She says an additional $2,200 in unreconciled income is sitting in the society’s bank account and, due to missing or non-existing financial records, she doesn’t know where the cash came from.

“Unfortunately, when I came in [March 2011] there were a number of records that weren’t made available,” she says, adding that the society plans to better maintain its financial records in the future.

Former RCPS president Andre Hall agrees there are hiccups to iron out regarding the maintenance of financial records. He says RCPS’s quick success made managing documents difficult for untrained volunteers.

“It got bigger faster than expected,” he says, noting some records were not started early enough, while other funds were just pooled together randomly without proper documentation.

But, he points out, the society always had a surplus. “There was not missing money. We always had more than we were aware of.”

“Forty-five hundred at the end of the day for seed money for 2012 is an excellent return,” Kato agrees.

In addition to its financial record-keeping difficulties, RCPS has also seen some resignations and conflict among board members.

“In terms of Pride administration, we’ve been having some difficulties,” Alexander acknowledges. “We lost a number of board members due to life circumstances involving family and health reasons.”

RCPS founder Vance McFadyen told Xtra in November that he stepped down because he was unhappy with how Hall was managing the society.

“He was not very receptive,” McFadyen said. “The president basically wanted to run the society on his own. Now he’s left and moved to Surrey and has basically washed his hands of everything,” he adds.

“Everyone has their own perception of things,” Hall responds. He says he left the board for personal reasons, without drama, one month before his term as president was scheduled to end.

“It was just personal,” he says. “It had nothing to do with anyone or anything.”

Hall says he is surprised by McFayden’s comments, adding he had no idea that McFadyen left for those reasons.

Regardless, Hall says he is satisfied with his contributions to New West Pride. “My record, and the Pride I put on, stands on its own,” he says. “It was bigger than it was the first year.”

McFadyen is not the only former board member with concerns. Former RCPS vice-president Chris Queer emailed Xtra in November alleging the board was making decisions behind his back.

Kato says the board has always followed the rules outlined in BC’s Society Act. “You don’t need to have the whole board there as long as you have a quorum and everything is documented in the minutes,” she explains.

“There were meetings he [Queer] missed because of his job,” she notes.

Queer maintains he was never filled in on details regarding decisions made in his absence and claims he was overlooked.

Hall refuses to address Queer’s accusations, noting Queer had resigned.

The newly elected board has only four seats filled: president (Alexander), vice-president (Shelly Reinhart), secretary/interim treasurer (Brian Winger) and director of volunteers (Agnes Whillans).

Alexander says the board is looking to fill the treasurer, communications, sponsorship and event coordinator positions, as well as recruit more volunteers, particularly youth.

“We’ll get the word out there and hopefully we will draw them in,” he says, emphasizing the importance of a diverse board.

For now, Alexander says he is taking the board’s growing pains in stride. “There are reasons why people leave,” he says. “You just have to accept that volunteers are going to come and go sometimes.”

Despite the difficulties of the last few months, McFadyen also says he has confidence in the new board.

In a comment he posted to the RCPS’s Facebook page, McFadyen says he plans to remain involved in the organization he created.

The third annual New West Pride will take place Aug 16 to 19, 2012.