If you came for fireworks you would have left disappointed.
When Pink Triangle Services failed to make quorum at its annual general meeting on Sept 17, some community members questioned if it was a sign the organization is having internal problems.
But PTS’s AGM on Oct 1 was smooth sailing. After a false start at 6:34pm, when acting president Doug Saunders-Riggins and executive director Claudia Van den Heuvel realized they’d miscounted and didn’t have 25 members present for quorum, the meeting restarted only four minutes later once a couple more members arrived.
Item five on the agenda was a review of proposed bylaw amendments. That issue, along with repeated failed attempts to make quorum at last year’s AGM, had previously ignited controversy. Several board members, including Gary Leger and former board president Denis Schryburt, left the organization.
But this time around, the AGM went by like any routine meeting — papers shuffling, motions passing, questions asked and answered. Some members said they hadn’t received the email outlining the proposed bylaw amendments. Van den Heuvel left the room and came back with printouts of emails that had been sent, while other attendees discussed the possibility of an email with a hyperlink winding up in the spam folder. Saunders-Riggins suggested a “friendly amendment,” saying PTS would keep a paper copy of any proposed changes that had to be voted on so members could stop by the office if they didn’t receive emails.
Saunders-Riggins gave people time to read through the proposed changes, some asked questions and then the bylaw amendments were passed.
“Anticlimactic maybe, but welcome,” Van den Heuvel said in an interview with Xtra after the meeting. “One of the legislations that we use to make sure we’re on track is the Not-for-Profits Act. In 2011 there were changes to the Not-for-Profit Corporations Act . . . With those changes all organizations really have to review their bylaws and make some quite serious amendments to be in line with legislation.”
The charge that the bylaw amendments were actually a veiled attempt for Van den Heuvel to grab power — with T Eileen Murphy, grand marshal of Capital Pride 2012, even referring to the executive director as running a “dictatorship” — was hurtful and untrue, Van den Heuvel says.
“It was upsetting,” she says. “It’s not accurate. I still respond to a board. I get my directions from my board and the strategic plan, and we do performance reviews. There’s a whole bunch of tools to make sure that I don’t have unilateral control of the organization.”
Saunders-Riggins, who chaired the meeting but isn’t returning as a board member because he wants more personal time, says the controversy came from misunderstanding and miscommunication.
“I personally think it was just because they didn’t understand what was happening,” he says. “They didn’t realize that it had to be done because of the Not-for-Profit Act. I think miscommunication was the big thing.”
During the meeting, Jodie McNamara, Capital Pride’s vice-chair of operations, asked why PTS’s membership had gone from 108 registered members in 2012 to a current membership of 69 members.
Van den Heuvel says membership had increased during last year’s controversy. Aryn Ziebarth, the board secretary, says this year’s membership drive was also shorter.
“Most of the people who did have concerns just didn’t show up this year,” Van den Heuvel says. “They’re entitled to their say. You don’t have to be involved in the organization to be a member, but I think if you're going to have criticism, you should also be involved.”
One of the bylaw amendments changes the requirement for quorum. Previously, it was 25 members; now it’s 25 percent of the current membership.
Ziebarth says he hopes the new quorum requirement will put an end to PTS’s difficulties in holding AGMs.
“I think the board and the organization is moving in a very positive direction,” Ziebarth says.
While the meeting went off without a hitch, Van den Heuvel isn’t expecting a new era of tranquility.
"I think there will always be differences of opinion,” she says. “I think that [the bylaw amendments] issue has been put to bed, but with all communities, especially ones as diverse as ours, there’s always going to be some issue that comes to the table.”
The new board was acclaimed since only 11 people ran for 12 positions on the board. Six board members attended, four sent regrets, and one was going to come but didn’t, Van den Heuvel says.
Returning members include Ziebarth as board secretary, Robert Crevier as the new president, Mike Jan as vice-president, Donald McGibbon as treasurer, Jennifer Mackin and Kris Bitterman. PTS also has new board members, including Juan Diego Sarmales, Hannah Watt, Deborah Nurse, Julien Geremie and Morgen Veres.