UPDATE JAN 25: In a letter sent to Xtra last night from Pride Toronto board co-chair, Francisco Alvarez, the board has agreed to allow us to live-stream the General Meeting this Thursday. Barring any connection issues, we’ll stream the meeting.
JAN 23: Pride Toronto (PT) is giving its members and the community less than two days to review audited financial documents in preparation for the general meeting (GM) on Jan 27.
And, if it were not for Xtra’s persistence, the documents wouldn’t have been released prior to the meeting at all. PT board co-chair Margaret Ngai responded to Xtra’s request in an email on Jan 22, saying the board’s “original plan was to walk through the financial statements with the treasurer report at the GM.”
“In addition to your request, several other board directors have also received inquiries from members interested in getting the audited financial statements ahead of the meeting to help with their preparation. So, in order to best service our membership, we are going to accelerate the preparation of the treasurer report this weekend, and aim to send our members a package of information, including the audited financial statements and the treasurer report, early next week (Jan 25).
“I understand your interest in providing this information to your readers, so we will be sending you the same package once it has been distributed to our members,” Ngai wrote.
The email explaining PT’s change of heart follows an interview on Jan 21 when Ngai told Xtra the audited financials would not be released ahead of the meeting.
“I guess the way that we planned it was, because not everyone has the financial background to understand financial statements, we were planning to go through it along with the treasurer report and explain all the numbers at the meeting,” she said. “People can ask questions if they spot anything.”
Xtra will post the audited financial statements online as soon as we receive them on Jan 25. The meeting will be held at the Church Street Public School at Church and Wood streets at 6:30pm on Jan 27.
Xtra has asked PT for permission to live-stream the GM on its website. Board co-chair Francisco Alvarez promised to get back to Xtra with an answer Jan 24.
Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes says the panel members received their copies of the audited financial statements on Jan 19 or 20. One panel member asked for the data in order to proceed with writing the recommendations.
“I haven’t reviewed them yet,” Hawkes says. “I’m not familiar with a lot of the details. I’ve heard things. We asked for it and they gave it to us.”
After the AGM in September, Xtra reported that the financial information, if accurate, shows huge losses. PT presented a deficit of $400,000. At the time, executive director Tracey Sandilands said that $200,000 of losses was due to sponsors pulling out of the festival at the last moment — but when pressed, the PT board refused to identify them. Sandilands also said that $700,000 was cut from the budget just weeks before the event to prevent even greater losses.
PT’s cash in the bank as of July 31 was –$70,000, Xtra has reported.
On Jan 21, PT posted the agenda for the GM on its website; it includes a 10-minute scheduled presentation of the audited financial documents by PT’s Daniel Knox.
The PT website also states that members unable to attend the meeting in person must complete a proxy form allowing another member to cast a vote in their place. All proxy votes must be received by noon on Jan 25 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There will be a special resolution at the meeting to expand the board to 12 directors,” Sandilands said. “That is something the community has been asking for, but it requires a special resolution by the members.”
Each member present may hold only one proxy, Sandilands told Xtra. Proxy-holders may specify which director they prefer to vote for and whether or not they agree with the bylaw amendments and the special resolution to assist the person casting the vote.
“There was some misunderstanding about proxies at the AGM. Some people had more than one, and the board decided there should only be one vote per person.”
Sandilands said people had more than one proxy because many of the coordinators gave their votes away, which “resulted in some unhappiness.”
“That raised questions of whether that’s right or not, so the board has decided only one proxy vote may be held per person,” she said.
“So all members at the meeting may be able to cast two votes, their own and the proxy that they hold.”