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Former mayor Melamed throwing his hat in the ring for Vancity board

Long-serving Whistler politician seeks new challenge



One of Whistler's longest-serving politicians is back on the campaign trail after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus.

Ken Melamed, former Whistler mayor and councillor, is running for a spot on the board of directors of Vancity, the largest community credit union in Canada, with $17.5 billion in assets and half a million members.

He's hoping to use some of the skills he's learned over his 15 years on Whistler council and what he calls "community building," and hone them in this new role.

"I've worked within local government and I thought it would be really interesting to learn how to apply some of the skills and move in the direction of creating a better future for my kids through the private sector," said Melamed, 59, who has returned to his former job as stonemason since his defeat in a third run at the mayor's chair in November 2011.

Vancity is an organization he's keen to be a part of.

"It really is doing a phenomenal job in what we call better business or corporate social responsibility," he said. "Vancity is the run-away leader in terms of community-engaged, socially conscious organizations.

"Society benefits from having organizations like this... that have as strong a commitment to community, as they do to their bottom line profitability."

Vancity invests in local business and organizations with not just expertise and advice but also financing solutions such as microcredit, start-up financing and traditional loans.

There are priority areas: aboriginal communities; energy and environment; labour unions and members; and local, natural and organic food, among others.

Sixteen members of Vancity are running in the upcoming board election.

"Democratic member control is a key co-operative principle," said Virginia Weiler, chair of the board, in a press release. "We're owned and controlled by our members, and voting in the election is an opportunity for members to put democracy in action and influence the future course of Vancity."

There are three positions available on the nine-person board. Directors are elected for a three-year term.

"I'm seeing this as something that I'd very much like to do. If it doesn't pan out then I'll pursue other opportunities, perhaps other boards, perhaps other employment opportunities," said Melamed.

The voting began on March 31 and continues until April 25. Members can vote in branch and through online banking. There are also mail-in ballots.