No citizen of the year for Pitt Meadows Day

Fallout from ouster of community foundation board

There will not be a citizen of the year in time for Pitt Meadows Day.

The citizen of the year is chosen by the Pitt Meadows Community Foundation, and is generally a part of the annual community celebration Pitt Meadows Day, coming up this Saturday.

However, with the change in leadership on the foundation board, the awarding of citizen of the year has been interrupted.

“We are unable, because of the lack of due process and paperwork, to award the citizen of the year before Pitt Meadows Day,” said Terry Becker, the new president of the foundation.

Becker said the incoming board was aware that two individuals were being considered for the award, but didn’t know who and expected to see forms and documents to support their nominations.

“How can we, in good conscience, make a decision with nothing?”

Outgoing board member Gwen O’Connell said the former board had two candidates, and on the night of the annual general meeting, members chose one.

That name was forwarded by email to the new board, she said.

“The person we chose should be the citizen of the year,” said O’Connell. “But they [the new board members] are going to do what they want.”

She declined to name the person whose name the outgoing board passed on.

O’Connell wanted to refute the incoming board’s assertion that she and former mayor Deb Walters were on the foundation board at the same time as they were city councillor and mayor, respectively.

O’Connell served only as a council liaison to the society, and Walters was a member of the foundation, but not on the board at the time.

The new foundation board members include Mayor John Becker, husband of the president, and councillors Bruce Bell, Mike Stark and David Murray, as well as Wayne Elkerton, the spouse of Coun. Janis Elkerton.

They replaced a board that included foundation co-president Michael Hayes, who ran against Becker for Pitt Meadows mayor in 2014, former city councillor O’Connell, and Carole Kubb, who helped on the Hayes mayoralty campaign.

The incoming board members had more supporters at the foundation AGM, and were able to outvote the existing board, in what Coun. Bill Dingwall styled “a hostile takeover by members of council and their spouses and family.”

Members of the outgoing board are now investigating whether it is appropriate or prohibited for city council members to serve as executive members of a non-profit society that receives funding from the city, said O’Connell.

“The community is very upset about this,” she added.

Terry Becker said there may be an opportunity for the new board to select a citizen of the year for 2017, but it has not been discussed.

Maple Ridge News