By: Marie Birkbeck

Bringing Valemountain Days 2014 to fruition was a gargantuan task that no one could have warned me about. It was a roller coaster ride I do not ever want to take again! With 40 odd years of volunteerism behind me, I signed on as Secretary last September because I believe that every community deserves a great summer festival truly believed I could contribute some value to the planning. Over the next eight months, I virtually dedicated my life, my home and my sanity to seeing that Valemountain Days would continue and be the event everyone wants to talk about.

Apparently they are talking. And now there are some devoted citizens in the community that are hell bent on throwing me under the bus. I am being accused of wanting control, having a personal agenda and being THE PROBLEM. If trying to live by the rules with honesty and integrity is a problem, then I take responsibility and will gladly wear that badge of honor.

But the problem started long before I even considered moving to Valemount. Shortly after I took over the books, I noticed a discrepancy in the records. Valemountain Days was proudly boasting 35 years, but when I finally found a Certificate of Incorporation, it was dated April 2011! That begged the question, “What happened to the other thirty years?” It turns out that twenty five or more years of complacency and no accountability to anyone except a small handful of volunteers, combined with some life changing experiences for some of the Executive had plunged Valemount Community Sports Day Association into a state that was going to take the next eight or nine months to sort out. Somewhere along the line the Annual report was not filed and the organization was dissolved for several years, (even though Valemountain Days continued to run every spring) In order to get a gaming license, the Association has to be registered, so VCSDA was born. To this day I have no idea what the previous Association was called.

Through the course of the next several months, we came up against one road block after another, from very limited paper trail, missing bylaws, sketchy financial statements, delinquent gaming reports and a secretarial blooper that for all intents and purposes, rendered the entire Board illegal.

At this point we simply took a deep breath and made a vow to continue with as much integrity as we could muster, and create Valemountain Days to the best of our ability. For the past several weeks, I was not just the ad-hoc secretary; I was the Go-to and the Go-for person.

My dining room became a board table for three hour meeting marathons, on an almost weekly basis –and more often than not, two sometimes three meetings a week. I devoted literally thousands of hours dealing with government agencies, applying for grants, writing proposals, attending funding and Board Development workshops. My garage became the storage unit for tents, parade supplies and more. My spare room over-flowed with everything imaginable that we would need for our festival; decorations for the float, supplies for the kids games, concession supplies. I used my personal credit card to pay for supplies and equipment, allowed purchases made locally to be applied to my house account, racked up more than 1000 km on my truck to pick up our large tent from Edmonton, and donated the cost of the entire trip as an in-kind donation; all for the sake of Valemountain Days.

So did I have a personal agenda? Absolutely! My goal was to have the biggest best Valemountain Days that we were capable of producing in a short time, despite the obstacles we faced.

Do I want control? No I do not want control, but I want to work with a board that knows and understands confidentiality, protocol, Robert’s Rules of Order, and the Chain of Command. I want them to know that they cannot take it upon themselves to change the rules to meet their needs.

And do I have a problem? If trying to live by the rules with honesty, integrity and accountability is a problem, then I take responsibility and will gladly wear that badge of honor. I challenge anyone who dares to discount my actions, to walk a mile – or a thousand hours – in my shoes and if they could have handled this situation any better, to please attend the AGM and take the helm, because I for one am tired of the BS and the nonsense and the accusations. Let’s get on with the business of making Valemountain Days a weekend to look forward to every year.

Marie Birkbeck