While the Babine Lake Community Forest Society (BLCFS) has been affected by a leadership dispute, in which two groups claim to be the legitimate board members, Granisle Mayor Linda McGuire says the municipality is “comfortable” with the current board.
The BLCFS, a partnership between Lake Babine Nation (LBN) and the Village of Granisle, started in 2011 as a way to benefit both communities by diversifying their economies.
Larry Carlson and Jocelyn Lemieux, both previously involved with BLCFS, said the leadership dispute started in early 2019 following the dismissal of two directors — Duane Crouse and Cheyene Dennis — from their roles due to concerns of conflict of interest.
Carlson and Lemieux said the directors, not accepting their dismissal, began having secret meetings with other members and then changed the society’s address and phone number.
According to a document dated June 13, 2019 from the BC Registries and Online Services, seen by Lakes District News, the BLCFS has five directors — including Carlson and Lemieux, as well as Randy Noble, Berengere Tremblay and Brenda Trudeau — and its office address is on Fulton Street in Granisle.
A separate document, dated July 11, 2019, lists the same directors but the society’s address is on Sus Avenue in Burns Lake — the same as the LBN office.
According to BLCFS Co-Chair Tim Smith, Carlson and Lemieux are not part of the current board.
Smith said the society currently has four board members from Granisle — himself, Megan Berg, Dave Nichols and Tom Liversidge — and four from LBN — Co-Chair Duane Crouse, Shane Modine, Arthur Michelle and Cheyene Dennis.
“They’re impersonating us,” Lemieux said of the current directors, adding he has not been allowed to attend their meetings.
But Mayor McGuire said the Village of Granisle is “comfortable” with the current board of directors, adding the community has seen the start of a wildfire mitigation work, one of the initiatives supported by BLCFS.
Lakes District News contacted Cheyene Dennis, who’s also an LBN councillor, but she said she couldn’t provide a comment until she had conferred with her fellow councillors. Further attempts to contact her were not successful.
The newspaper also reached out to Duane Crouse but did not receive a response by press time.
While Smith, the co-chair, acknowledged the leadership dispute, noting the current board has taken steps to address it, he offered a different perspective on the issue.
“There were some individuals in Granisle that attempted to fraudulently take over the [current] board and work against the objectives of both the Village of Granisle and LBN,” Smith said, without specifying who the individuals are. “It’s my understanding that these individuals are still attempting to fraudulently represent themselves as board members.”
Meanwhile Carlson and Lemieux, who refer to the current directors as “unregistered members,” said they are considering legal action.
“The next step is to hire a lawyer, which everyone tells us to do, but all funds are frozen or taken over by the unregistered group, and we have no means of support now,” Carlson said.
Further attempts to contact the BLCFS co-chairs and LBN’s deputy chief were not successful.