The Pitt Meadows Community Foundation’s board of directors wants to build up its organization, and move on from controversy of recent years.
The board’s funds are intact – approximately $150,000. President Terry Becker presents the foundation’s future as one of positivity – disbursing grants and bursaries in the community, and getting involvement again in initiatives for community betterment.
“We are focused on moving forward, and we don’t want to live in the past,” said Becker. “We see this as an opportunity.”
That’s a sentiment that was recently echoed by Mayor Nicole MacDonald.
In January, the City of Pitt Meadows was told that the BC Provincial Registrar would not be conducting an investigation of foundation – as the city had requested – because the threshold of clear and compelling evidence had not been met.
The city also learned the Canada Revenue Agency recently restored the Pitt Meadows Community Foundation’s (PMCF) charitable status, so the city has decided to drop the matter.
“The city’s ultimate goal is for the PMCF to restore its role as a community enhancing organization,” said MacDonald.
The city said it had heard resident concerns about the foundation’s lack of active operations and failure to continue previous disbursement programs. The foundation’s lost charitable status created concern for the potential loss of up to $150,000, earmarked for community benefit.
But Becker said the foundation has gone through the process of getting reinstated as a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency, and that included providing a detailed plan for the future.
She described it as a process that has reignited her passion for the community group.
“We have a lot we can contribute,” said Becker. “The board is excited to be moving forward.”
Becker also wants to “set the record straight” on accusations that have dogged the board for going on six years.
She denies there was a “hostile takeover” of the foundation at the annual general meeting in 2017, saying sitting directors were invited to stay on, but they declined. Nor did the new board revoke any memberships, but rather former members allowed memberships to lapse.
Becker explained that former members brought legal action against the new foundation executive in 2017, and the foundation countered. Those legal proceedings left a cloud of uncertainty looming over the organization. Becker did not consider it a good time to invite people to join.
“Would you join an organization that’s in active litigation?” she pointed out.
Added to this acrimony, the group has been “getting hammered” in social media for inactivity, and she listed numerous reasons for this, including the lawsuit, COVID-19, the city’s legal team being involved, missing financial records, dealing with the CRA, and even Becker’s personal loss of both of her parents.
She said the past city council denied the foundation’s involvement in city activities, and last spring the city lawyer asked the directors to step down, so a new board could be appointed.
She asked three times to appear at a city council meeting as a delegation since 2018, as is permitted by the city’s bylaws, but was reportedly denied.
Becker said the foundation did continue to offer two $500 bursaries for students each year – although one year they received no applications. It has also held AGMs and other directors meetings.
Now, having satisfied both city hall and the CRA, she would like to focus on the future, and in doing so invite Pitt Meadows residents to apply for membership, and bring the board their ideas.
“How can we support you?” Becker asked. “How can we be involved?”
They will look at hosting fundraisers such as pub nights and raffles, as well as seeking potential government grants. They will need volunteers – such as a person who knows how to do grant writing, Becker said.
The foundation is accepting applications for volunteers at email@example.com, or on their website at www.pittmeadowsproud.org
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