Letter: GIRO board of directors meeting

Monday, September 9 2013

I’ve lived on Gabriola for eleven years, and very rarely have I been stirred to participate in community initiatives, but twice this week I’ve attended community gatherings. Wednesday night was the final public consultation on the Riparian Area Regulations, hosted by staff and trustees of the Islands Trust. Thursday night was the extraordinary meeting of the Board of Directors and staff of the Gabriola Island Recycling Organization.

The behaviour of the hosting parties at those two meetings could not have been further opposed.

Trustees Malcomson and Rudischer, facing the ire and frustration of their constituents over the bitter pill that the province of BC is forcing some landowners to swallow, shared their desire to shape more palatable bylaws in the face of the fait accompli handed to them. I left early, because better speakers than I were calmly sharing their frustrations to a sympathetic and understanding group. I felt that some progress was possible.

At Thursday night’s GIRO meeting, Nancy H-Pierce was acclaimed chair, and did an excellent job of standing between two combative camps. I believe the meeting was highly charged by grudges, but here’s the thing: it seemed that most of the attendees saw this as an opportunity to address broader concerns about the methodologies of the GIRO organization.  

Though the GIRO meeting was handled badly in comparison to the Islands Trust meeting, the commonality was people with legitimate concerns. 

I had prepared a few questions and a few suggestions, but despite trying to be reasonable I was treated to sneering disdain by one particular Director at Large, as was almost every person who approached the microphone.

Even when straightforward questions were asked, requiring little more than a “yes” or “no” answer, participants were responded to with brag and swagger. I left early. This time there didn’t seem to be hope of progress.

But I’ll end with a suggestion here. I have no skin in the game between the current board and its past members and I believe that GIRO is a fantastic organization whose employees and volunteer staff do a great job. While I believe there is room for improvement on some minor matters, I think that our recycle centre suffers only one critical failure. Judging by the unseemly letter which members received inviting them to this meeting, and the confrontational demeanour displayed subsequently, this group of directors needs to address the concerns of their stakeholders and learn how to communicate more effectively.

~ Richard Nolan