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Qmunity meeting draws 13 members

No progress on Comox St proposal: Breakspear

"It's unfortunate that more people didn't turn up," says Qmunity executive director Jennifer Breakspear (with new board members Ian Handy, Andrew Black and Victor Bearpark), "but I guess that means people aren't mad about anything." Credit: Nathaniel Christopher photo

 On June 15 Qmunity held its annual general meeting with 13 voting members in attendance, compared to 32 who turned up last year.

“It’s unfortunate that more people didn’t turn up,” says Qmunity executive director Jennifer Breakspear, “but I guess that means people aren’t mad about anything.”

The membership elected three new board members including former VPS secretary Victor Bearpark, PricewaterhouseCoopers auditor Andrew Black who will serve as secretary, and long-time Qmunity volunteer Ian Handy.

In his report, outgoing treasurer David Wong wrote that Qmunity’s audited financial statements for 2009 ended with a surplus of $16,600 which was used mainly to fund the website and equipment purchases. This figure, he writes, marks an increase from the loss of $25,300 reported in 2008.

Board co-chair Rebecca Shields says the surplus is attributable to Qmunity aligning its spending with available government revenue sources from Vancouver Coastal Health, the City of Vancouver and the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

In the past, she says, spending was aligned with pre-recession fundraising levels.

Breakspear brought up the issue of Qmunity’s registered named, which is currently the Pacific Foundation for the Advancement of Minority Equality (PFAME). She notes the disparity has created confusion.

In the past year, she says, a number of people approached her to say their employers offered to match donations to the charity of their choice but couldn’t find Qmunity on official lists of registered charities.

“We had a few folks tell us that they looked for Qmunity or the Centre and those names don’t show up,” she says. “It’s likely we lost some sustaining donations.”

“The way it was told to me was that ‘minority equality’ was some sort of euphemism for describing the equal rights premise in the law that sexual minorities did not have,” Board co-chair Craig Maynard explains, referring to the history of the name PFAME. “It was another way of describing LGBT people.”

Meeting attendee Erik Graff supports officially changing PFAME’s name to Qmunity.

“I would love to see it changed. Canada is full of minorities and it doesn’t say anything about us. When the name Qmunity was developed I thought it was a great idea, something to reflect who we are.”

The costs associated with the change would be minimal, Shields says.

“We already own the Qmunity name. We just have to register with the Society Act. It’s  $25 to do that. Since we don’t have any print material with PFAME it wouldn’t cost anything to do business cards. It’s just a matter of filing,” Shields explains. “For a non-profit it’s not a complicated process.”

Maynard says the new board will take the name change under advisement and probably hold a special general meeting to provide the membership with an opportunity to speak to the issue and then vote on it.

After the conclusion of regular business, attendee Warren Cox asked the board about the status of Qmunity’s potential expansion to a new space being offered by developers of a proposed high-rise at 1401 Comox St.

“There hasn’t been any advancement on that issue,” says Breakspear. “The developer is still awaiting a vote from city council on the rezoning proposal, and we don’t expect that to go before city council until September.”

City council wants to give people an opportunity to speak to the issue since there is “considerable sentiment about that particular site,” Breakspear notes. “Once the public hearing process is exhausted it will then be put to a vote to city council.”

Breakspear says the development would provide Qmunity with 3,000 square feet of new space on three contiguous floors.