Former Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) president John Boychuk has expressed concern over last week’s board decision to post a job advertisement for a full-time, salaried general manager. He says the Pride Society board is moving forward without proper consultations.
“There seems to be a great number of persons in the community who are very concerned with this direction, as it seems to be more of [an] executive director position,” he says. “No matter what you’re calling it, the work that’d be done is similar to that of executive director, and the membership has been very clear that it needs to be consulted prior to moving forward with such a position.”
Boychuk says that during Davie Days on Sept 11, he was approached by several people, including former VPS contractors, members and volunteers, who expressed concern about VPS transparency.
“There’s a wide variety of people trying to understand what VPS is trying to do,” he says. “Are they trying to circumnavigate what membership has asked or ignoring overall community wish? Even though the position is being posted on their site, I don’t believe it is being done in the open manner that it needs to include the membership or the community at large.”
The ad posted on the Pride Society’s website states that the general manager will provide “input into strategic direction and implementation of organizational development strategies.
“Key components of the job will be writing grants, securing funding, marketing, membership management, communications, providing administrative management, advising the board of directors on policy, liaising with management, bookkeeping and budget management” among other duties, it reads.
The general manager will be based at the Pride Society office, may be required to travel throughout Vancouver and occasionally outside the region, and report to the board of directors through the executive, it further states.
The application deadline is Sept 27, 2010.
Former VPS vice-president Laura McDiarmid worries about the financial implications of the hire.
“The issue when I was vice-president always was, Do we have enough money in our operating budget to support the cost of an ongoing full-time paid position?” she says. “That was the issue when I was on the board, and I would maintain it’s still the issue,” she adds. “In the event that we’re spending the community’s money, the community needs to ask those questions to VPS before they post that position.”
Pride Society president Ken Coolen says the organization, which manages the second largest Pride in Canada, needs someone to manage the day-to-day affairs.
“We have a membership and the membership votes in a board and trusts us to run the organization,” he says. “We hired a strategic planning consultant, and the board worked together with the staff we had on at the time. And we came up with a game plan, and the game plan at this point is not to move directly into an executive director position but to hire someone to be a general manager in order to run day-to-day operations.”
Coolen further states that the VPS can afford the new hire.
“The Vancouver Pride Society has been working to create an organization that’s not dependent solely on the goodwill and free time of individuals,” he says.
Boychuk believes the posting disregards the will of the membership.
“The membership is very clear in what’s asked in moving forward,” he says. “The membership said, ‘If you want to grow, come back with a plan and we’ll consider it,’ but unless there’s a proper plan consulted with the community there’s going to be a lot of questions.”
Coolen, however, says that VPS is unable to consult with the membership for every decision they make.
“We didn’t have consultations when we hired an events coordinator, and we didn’t have a consultation when we hired a sponsorship coordinator or an office person,” he says. “None of that stuff went to consultations. All of the other organizations in town don’t go to the community when they hire a new staff person.”
Former city councillor and VPS board member Alan Herbert supports the board’s decision.
“I don’t know of an organization that has put on a complex job such as Pride or anything approaching Pride that can be run solely on volunteers,” he says. “As well-meaning as volunteers are, it requires knowledge of what’s gone on before.”
Herbert also questions what kind of consultation the membership requires.
“It’s very easy to say they weren’t consulted,” he says. “But I’m guessing Pride has some deadlines they are trying to meet. This is September, their AGM is coming up, and I suspect they’d like to have this position in place, though it may not be filled.”
“If somebody wanted to know what the reasoning was, what the thought process was, why wouldn’t they come and ask us? I find it very, very concerning. I will also say that this has been a frustration for this organization, that people do not come to us and ask us.”
Boychuk says that he’s acting as a conduit to ensure that dialogue is open and transparent.
“I’m not here to cause trouble or stir the pot,” he says. “I’m only here to express some of the concerns that are put out there.”
The VPS has a board meeting tonight at 6pm at 603-1033 Davie St.