Board members Gerry Piper, Ainslie Jackman, Gordon Carson, VCF Manager Craig Pryor, John McGuire, Vern Mickelson and Mayor Owen Torgerson (missing Ray Mikolash). Pryor and Torgerson do not sit on the board. / PHOTO COMMUNITY FOREST WEBSITE

By Laura Keil

At their Annual General Meeting last week, Valemount Community Forest (VCF) President Ainslie Jackman said a new Village of Valemount policy will mean only two of the current six directors will be eligible to continue as board members.

The draft Village policy spells out the rules regarding board composition and eligibility for the Valemount Community Forest and Valemount Industrial Park, which are Limited Partnerships, 99.999% owned by the Village.

At the meeting, Mayor Owen Torgerson explained the crux of the new policy’s conflict of interest guidelines: “In layman’s terms, if you work for the company and you make money doing it, then you can’t make decisions for the company.”

In the 2020 financial statements for the VCF and VIP, business dealings were disclosed related to two sitting directors in the amounts of $1,450 and $13,514. Business dealings pertaining to directors or directors’ families have not yet been reported for 2021, but in 2019, a total of three directors (or their families) did business with the company in the amount of $4M.

When asked about her concerns regarding sitting directors not being able to work for the companies, president Ainslie Jackman did not respond, but forwarded information about the history and positive work completed by the companies.

Jackman previously told the Goat that “each person with a potential conflict does leave the room when appropriate.”
In an email, Jackman said two members of their board will attend the council meeting on Sept. 28th. “They will address Policy 81 and the radical implications it has for the board and the business of the VCF and VIP.”

“The biggest surprise for us was that this policy was written and approved with no input whatsoever from their general partner or the public,” Jackman said. “We only learned it existed well after the fact. The last time we proposed changing the make-up of the board and the partnership (at the request of the Village) we held a well attended public meeting in Sept 2018.”

Jackman said the existing board will continue until January when new directors will be appointed by the Village.

Village CAO Wayne Robinson says Council will consider the amended policy 81 at the Sept. 28th Council meeting. The policy had to be amended to harmonize with the VCF and VIP corporate articles. A staff report will also ask Council to amend the VIP Articles to reflect the VCF Articles (which are currently different) on the topic of board composition. If passed, the result for both boards will be a composition of two councillors and four members of the public and one ex-officio (non-voting) Village staff member. In addition to the number of directors, the Policy (which follows the corporate articles) states that there will be no limit to the number of two-year terms a person can have on the board and outlines the process for appointing new directors (After board positions are advertised, the board makes recommendations to Council).