Peninsula Co-op news
Peninsula Co-op Elections 2012 - Letter to Peninsula Co-op members
Greetings Peninsula Co-op Members,
We are writing to you today, to encourage your participation in the Peninsula Co-op’s election for board directors.
We are active Peninsula Co-op members, working as part of a much larger group of members seeking leadership and policy changes at our co-op. Our goal has been to push for an improved process for the election of directors, greater board accountability to members, good governance, and respect for local agriculture, including the reversal of development plans for a large Co-op supermarket on rural zoned land (tax classification: farmland) in Central Saanich.
It’s been a struggle, but we are happy to report some progress has been made: last year the director election process was made available to members at the Co-op’s retail operations and this year you can vote from home with a mail in ballot (previously members had to attend an Annual General Meeting to vote in the director elections); the membership list is now available for members to contact other members, therefore facilitating greater member participation and discussion into the election process; and the supermarket development plans on rural land are currently on hold due to the Capital Regional District’s refusal to support commercial zoning contrary to regional planning bylaws. However and unfortunately, the development application which would change the zoning to commercial and change our Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is still active, with Minister Ida Chong allowing arbitration to resolve the District of Central Saanich’s challenge to the legality of the RGS.
The Peninsula Co-op offers rebates on fuel and food store purchases, however we think our Co-op needs to listen more to its membership and expand member services to include a broader range of offerings such as solar heating, pharmacy/health services as well as adding multiple food store locations throughout the south island region. Additionally, we think our co-op needs to demonstrate greater support for local food security, explore ‘green’ transportation alternatives , and facilitate an expansion of the co-operative movement by assisting other co-ops to explore local business/service opportunities for its members and to do all of this in a manner that unites members and community.
We believe Peninsula Co-op, which is owned by the members, needs to look to the future with the local economy & environmental sustainability in mind, and explore alternative energy opportunities for its membership and focus more on supporting local food production.
We are hoping you can support a broader vision for our Co-op and support responsible change and help to make it happen by casting your vote.
We believe the following candidates for director can bring forward a new vision and new ideas for the future of our Co-op, offer a diversity of leadership at the board level and will demonstrate support for community values and membership input. We asking you to consider voting for Glenn Davidson, Roger Hart and Jack Thornburgh for board directors.
Please complete the voting procedure and mail immediately, so you don’t forget to do it later.
If you would like us to communicate with you by email please let us know by email. We won’t send very many messages, and it would save us money and time for communicating during director elections.
Peninsula Co-op appoints new CEO, general manager
Update: Co-op proposal takes Central Saanich, CRD to dispute resolution
Co-op keeps new store options open - Ruling to decide whether property will remain rural or be developed
BC Supreme Court Ruling Confirms Greater Member Participation in Director Elections at the Peninsula Co-op (January 26, 2012)
The court case was brought forward by Randy Pearson, a member of the southern Vancouver Island based Peninsula Co-op. Disagreement over access to the membership list has been an issue since the 2009 election of directors. A candidate in that election had requested the member list for election purposes, but was denied. That election was eventually tossed out by arbitrator Jakob de Villiers for other substantial irregularities. Pearson filed a court claim in the spring of 2011, after candidates who were running for the 2011 director elections were denied access to the membership list. The Co-op argued access to the list was in conflict with member privacy.
Pearson says “This court ruling will promote increased member participation in the election of directors, and is a victory for greater democratic member control of the co-operative, and it will likely improve overall Board accountability.”
During the 2011 election of directors, only 3.1% of the membership of 56,000 cast ballots. A previous court decision related to The Land Conservancy (TLC), permitted members of a society access to the membership list for election purposes, and the BC Business Corporation Act provides shareholders of public companies access to the shareholder list for corporate purposes, including elections. Pearson states “This decision is consistent with the rights of members belonging to societies in BC and consistent with shareholder practices in public companies across Canada. The BC Co-operative Association Act spelled out that right for co-op members and now the court has ordered compliance.”
Peninsula Co-op and Tsartlip First Nation sign agreement to develop grocery store
CRD review of Central Saanich land decisions has many local supporters
Councillors to deal with bylaw changes for new store before seeking CRD approval (from Times Colonist, December 8, 2010)
The Arbitrator's Award declared the Peninsula Co-op's June 24, 2009 election of directors null and void, and new elections to be held within 60 days.
Arbitrator de Villiers found “substantial irregularity” in the election process that impacted the results of the election. A decision by President Ron Gaudet “to allow voting before the commencement of the meeting was clearly unlawful”. The election was legally required to be held at the Annual General Meeting. Legal & illegally cast ballots were mixed.
Another “serious irregularity” included an “unlawful” (contrary to the Rules) nominating committee comprised of 3 directors and the General Manager with a “clear purpose to weed out or at least discourage any prospective candidates” that didn’t agree with the Board’s policies.
The most “serious irregularity” was Co-op General Manager Pat Fafard”s open campaign to help elect the incumbent directors, including Mr Gaudet. Mr. Fafard issued an email communication to certain Co-op members urging “members to vote for the incumbents”. His email was characterized as “defamatory” and questioned the personal integrity of the challenging candidates and implying “that their motives were ethically improper”.
The Board of Directors received the email and “thus were fully aware of his scurrilous attack upon the opposing candidates… but there is no evidence that they disowned his remarks or restrained his conduct”.
Election infractions (Monday Magazine, June 3, 2010)
Back in July when Monday asked Peninsula Co-op general manager Pat Fafard about alleged irregularities in the organization’s 2009 board of directors election, he said, “All I can say is I wouldn’t give too much credence to some of the things people have been saying. We held an AGM, it was duly held, we had resolutions, fair elections and it was all in the democratic process—regardless of what people might be saying.”
As it turns out, former provincial court justice Jakob de Villiers—appointed as arbitrator to resolve a complaint filed against the Co-op management by a local farmer—disagrees with Mr. Fafard’s recollection of last summer’s events, which saw the Co-op GM distribute an e-mail questioning the motives—and in one case, competence—of three candidates running against the incumbents.
In a decision released last week, de Villiers concludes, “The election of directors at the June 24, 2009 Annual General Meeting was conducted contrary to to the Respondent’s Memorandum of Understanding, in bad faith and in a manner that was oppressive to those members that were in opposition to the incumbent board’s and senior management’s land use plans.”
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