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Squamish Chamber of Commerce member expelled

Members with concerns call for general meeting



Members of the Squamish Chamber of Commerce want some answers and they hope to get them at a special general meeting.

Concerned members of the business organization requested the meeting, which is set for Monday (Dec. 5), after a member was expelled from the organization last month.

The member was expelled on Nov. 14 following a meeting of the organization's board of directors.

The expelled member declined to do an on the record interview due to the fact that a lawyer was brought in by the individual to help resolve what is described by the individual as an illegal expulsion.

The individual was a member of the board of directors and led the organization's economic development committee. The board of directors dissolved the committee over concerns about a member survey conducted by the expelled member in the spring.

Ron Anderson, the spokesperson for the Chamber's board of directors, confirmed that a director was expelled on Nov. 14. He added that the decision to take the action was made in a private meeting so he declined to offer any further information relating to the expulsion.

He said the Chamber's board of directors wanted the final results of the survey by Oct. 18.

"We have been asking for it for months and it has not been delivered to us," Anderson said in an interview. The missing information, Anderson said, was part of the expulsion reasoning.

According to Anderson, the other members of the board of directors don't know what happened with the information collected in the survey despite requests for the final survey results. Anderson was on the now defunct economic development committee.

When the results of the survey weren't produced a notice went out to the membership announcing the survey was compromised.

That notice caused concern for a number of members, including new member Chris Pettinghill.

The software consultant said that when he saw the note he was concerned about his credit card number and personal information on file with the Chamber of Commerce. He wanted more information but wasn't happy with what he was told when he asked about the situation.

Anderson said that in hindsight the use of the word compromised wasn't a good choice as the board meant to report that it doesn't know what happened with the information from the study and no personal information is at risk.

A follow up notice went out on Nov. 16 informing members that no personal information was at risk and to announce that the economic development committee was dissolved.

Connie Millard felt uneasy about the way the expulsion of a fellow member was handled so she requested an extraordinary general meeting to get answers to questions she and other members had about the situation. Within a day a petition calling for the meeting had the number of member signatures required.

Concerned chamber member Kirstin Clausen said she fears the board of directors didn't follow the organization's bylaws in expelling the member.

"The bylaws look kind of clear that you don't expel a director in secret on a Monday morning following a long weekend and hope that members don't ask a question," said Clausen.

The long-term chamber member said she would expect that if there was an issue with a member then the board of directors should have asked for a letter of resignation and if there was resistance to that then the issue should have gone to the membership for consultation.

"If there's something that members should be concerned about, members are smart, let us figure it out," Clausen said.

Anderson said he is confident the board of directors followed the chamber bylaws in making its decisions.

He said what has happened since the Nov. 14 meeting is healthy and he welcomes a general meeting of the membership.

"It's a membership driven organization," said Anderson. "I'm fully supportive of what the membership's wishes are."

The current chamber president is Jasmine Henczel. She moved into the role after former president Moe Freitag stepped down to run in the municipal election.

The special meeting of the chamber members is set for 6 p.m. at the Sandman Hotel on Monday.

Meanwhile, a new board of directors was elected this week.

Past president Sameer Kajani was re-elected to a two-year term along with Gina Ball of Mountain Orthotics, Michele Ellis of Verico Nova Financial, Gregory Fischer of Gelato Carina, Patrick Stafford-Smith of Vertical Strategies and Roopy Toor of Roopy Toor Global Mortgage.

New to the board are Mike Quesnel of Stuntwood Enterprises and Heidi Van Lith from the TD Bank. Both were elected to one-year terms with returning director Denise Jimmo of Nexxion Inc.

The board elections were scheduled to wrap up on Friday (Nov. 25) but due to a scheduling error the board elections were extended to Monday (Nov. 28).

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