Three board directors at the Boundary Museum Society (BMS) resigned their posts Friday, Dec. 17, four days after their membership called a halt to the society’s long-awaited annual general meeting (AGM).
Former President Joe Tatangelo said Friday that he’d left the board effective immediately, along with board Treasurer Kathy Rush and directors Lyle Burt and Laura Lodder.
Board director Larry Jmaiff has stayed on as an interim president, pending an election when the AGM reconvenes in the new year, according to Jmaiff.
“In the meantime, I’m forming an interim board so we can continue with business at the museum,” he said Monday, Dec. 20.
Speaking to the previous board’s accomplishments, Tatangelo said, “All of us had the best interests of the museum at heart.” While board directors had worked hard to run the museum at 6145 Reservoir Rd., “We didn’t feel like we were getting co-operation from the city,” he continued.
Their departure comes roughly a month after city council withheld around $23,000 of BMS’s fee for service, roughly a quarter of the $105,000 in annual contributions by the City of Grand Forks and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s (RDKB’s) electoral areas C (Christina Lake) and D (rural Grand Forks).
Tatangelo and Rush had asked council to release the first sum at a committee of the whole delegation before council’s regular meeting on Nov. 8. Appearing via Zoom, Rush didn’t provide any kind of a financial statement to firm up their request, telling council she hadn’t thought that was necessary. The board hadn’t held an AGM since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, she and Tatangelo said.
When the board convened the society’s AGM Monday, Dec. 13, the meeting was interrupted by a unanimous resolution introduced and seconded by BMS members Danna O’Donnell and Cathy Korolek, according to both members and Tatangelo. The resolution stopped the meeting so that it could be rescheduled for sometime in the new year.
O’Donnell, who serves as director of the RDKB’s Area D, said Monday that she’d put forward the motion because there weren’t enough BMS members in attendance to replace the incumbent board. She, Korolek and Tatangelo separately confirmed that there were between 25 and 30 members at the meeting, where the board was hoping to replace three directors, excluding the president.
“I believe that if the society doesn’t elect a new board and change things drastically, they’ll need to be concerned about the funding that they receive from their local governments,” O’Donnell said.
Korolek said Friday that she’d “worked hard to encourage the board to succeed” while previously serving as city council’s liaison. While she’d been a board director in that capacity, she said she’d attended Monday’s AGM as a member of BMS.
“The existing board has been in place for a long time and they take quite a sense of ownership over the museum. And I have to give them that,” she said.
But the board had fallen behind on a number of its obligations to its government funders, especially by not holding an AGM throughout the pandemic. Korolek added that the board chose to ignore a strategic plan designed in the summer of 2020 to modernize museum operations.
“I can tell you, the board didn’t review the plan. They filed it,” she said.
Korolek added that BMS has no social media presence, while the board didn’t have a private email server until late last summer. The board had set up email servers at various points in the past, she qualified.
The board “didn’t like” many of the strategic plan’s recommendations, but had been prepared to move forward on some others, Tatangelo told The Gazette. When asked for a copy of the plan, he said he didn’t know where to find one.
Board members had communicated with each other through their personal email accounts before setting up the society’s latest email server, he explained.
Tatangelo went on to say that he and his fellow board members felt as though they’d been “set up” by O’Donnell and Korolek. When asked to explain why O’Donnell’s motion garnered zero opposition from the floor, Tatangelo said he wondered if voting members understood the intent behind the motion.
Asked for clarification, O’Donnell and Korolek said they’d hoped the motion would pass so that the society could replace the board when the AGM reconvenes.
O’Donnell and Korolek said they’d acted to protect the museum’s best interests and to safeguard its future.
The Boundary Museum has been closed since mid-November, following the resignation of its last administrator.
Non-profit societies registered in B.C. must hold an AGM once per year, according to the Societies Act.
Tatangelo said the board hadn’t been able to do this amid the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that he and other directors had been working with BC Registries to temporarily set aside that requirement.