Ex-president of Pitt Meadows Community Foundation challenges board change

Ex-president of Pitt Meadows Community Foundation challenges board change

A directors’ meeting of former board members will be held July 18 to review ‘unapproved’ applications.

  • Jun. 23, 2017 1:00 p.m.

More than a month after a shakeup on the board of the Pitt Meadows Community Foundation, past president Michael Hayes is returning fire.

Hayes and his board of volunteer board members were unexpectedly ousted from their positions during the foundation’s annual general meeting on May 16.

That’s when Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker and his wife Terry, along with members of city council and their family members, interrupted the meeting and got voted onto the board in a surprise election.

Hayes will now challenge the memberships of nine of those new directors and board members, who he said weren’t approved ahead of the vote as the foundation’s bylaws dictate. Those bylaws were written by John Becker, in his role as the foundation’s lawyer.

“According to the bylaws, these people did not have any voting privileges, nor could they put their names forward as officers or directors,” Hayes said in a letter.

“The result is that none of the ‘new’ officers or directors were validly elected, and as such do not hold any office.”

The unscheduled vote saw Terry Becker replace Hayes and Zabrina Braithwaite-Kelso as president, while John Becker also won a board seat.

Other new directors include Couns. Bruce Bell, Mike Stark and David Murray, as well as Wayne Elkerton, the spouse of Coun. Janis Elkerton.

In his letter, Hayes said the mayor was aggressive and hostile towards the board leading up to the vote, and that he made “insistent unreasonable demands” that caught the members off guard.

“The directors at this meeting were taken aback that [Becker] would blatantly act in the way which he did,” Hayes wrote.

“He was supposed to assist us with legal issues, not cause the issues, and to act against us, his clients, in the manner in which he did! We were at a massive disadvantage.”

Hayes, who ran against Becker for mayor in the 2014 municipal election, said the members went along with the mayor’s demands “to prevent possible escalation of an already tense situation … ”

Neither the mayor nor his wife provided comment on those allegations.

Terry Becker described the May 16 meeting as “friendly,” and said nothing out of the ordinary occurred.

Hayes said he has obtained legal advice from an outside council.

Based on that advice, a directors’ meeting of the former board members will be held on July 18 to review those unapproved applications.

After that, a notice of another general meeting, which will include a formal election of all approved new members, will be delivered to the new board members.

That meeting will go ahead on Aug. 22.

Terry Becker declined to comment on Hayes’ letter or his intention to dispute the new board’s legitimacy.

But she did say things are operating smoothly under her leadership.

“It’s a very exciting time,” Becker said. “We’ve had two meetings so far and we’ve discussed a lot of plans for the future, and it’s all been very positive.”

Becker said the foundation is already working on a membership drive and is looking at a series of initiatives, including a possible partnership with its counterpart in Maple Ridge.

As for the Citizen of the Year award, which was delayed this year due to the change in the board, Becker says it’s still possible to elect a 2017 recipient, provided the old board provides proper information.

“We’ve asked for [the old board’s] books and records, including documents related to Citizen of the Year, and so far they haven’t been delivered yet,” she said.

In a follow-up email, Hayes said it’s unlikely the matter would be taken to court if the new members don’t comply with the results of the formal vote in August, but suggested he’d be prepared to take that action if necessary.

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