Although attendance was sparse for the first couple of hours of this year’s 124th annual convention of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association in Penticton Saturday, by the deadline to register to vote, the room was overflowing.
General manager Glen Lucas estimates nearly half of the 530 members of the BCFGA turned out to vote, after a year that was marred by the rocky relationship between the grower lobby group’s president, Kirpal Boparai of Kelowna, and the valley’s main co-operative packinghouse.
He finally resigned in December, and was not in attendance to discuss the past year’s difficulties with members.
However, his vice-president, Jeet Dhukia of Vernon was elected president over a former vice-president of the association, Fred Steele of Kelowna. The BCFGA does not release the ballot count before destroying the ballots.
A former president of the BCFGA, Joe Sardinha of Summerland, had been nominated to run for vice-president, but he withdrew his name when Dhukia was elected, and it proved to be a difficult task to find anyone at the convention willing to take on the post.
Finally, Summerland director Denise MacDonald agreed to let her name stand, and members nominated Bupinder Dhaliwal of Oliver as well.
Dhaliwal, who is a substitute teacher as well as working on his family’s orchard, was elected. He has never served on the executive before.
MacDonald was acclaimed to continue to represent the Okanagan-Skaha region, while Nirmal Dhaliwal of Oliver was acclaimed to continue representing the South Okanagan-Similkameen region.
Incumbents Jora Dhaliwal, representing the Central region and Madeleine van Roechoudt representing the North region were also acclaimed.
Peter Simonsen of Naramata was acclaimed to continue to repesent the southern district on the executive, while incumbent Amarjit Lalli of Kelowna was elected over Asif Mohammed of Vernon for the northern district.