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In wake of resignations, complaints, council sending clerk to BIA meetings

Clerk's report to BIA suggests 'attitudes and behaviours' need to improve
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Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

A member of Collingwood’s clerk department will be sitting in on BIA board meetings for a while. 

The change was supported by council after a closed session last night. The move was prompted by a review of the BIA undertaken by Clerk Sara Almas. 

Four people resigned from the board in the last month, and according to a report by Almas, four of those resignations were the result of “frustration with issues related to the organization and operations.” 

Former board member Alex Yuen resigned over the board’s handling of the opening of the farmers’ market this year, which was done without formal approval of the board and circumvented a previous decision from the board. 

Almas and Collingwood Downtown BIA general manager interviewed past and present board members for feedback and Almas presented the findings to the BIA board yesterday morning (July 20). 

“Based on the feedback, members need to be cognizant of their responsibilities with respect to the Municipal Code of Conduct for council and local boards and conduct themselves accordingly,” noted Almas in her report. 

Complaints against BIA board members can be filed with the integrity commissioner, just as a complaint could be filed about a municipal councillor. The complaints could then lead to formal investigations. 

The BIA board – now comprised of five members plus four vacant seats – asked the town to help recruit new board members. 

Last night, council agreed to have staff lead the recruitment process and fill the four vacant seats. 

Council also ordered clerk services to give the BIA board guidance “with respect to governance, process, and leadership,” which will include staff from the clerk’s department participating in BIA board meetings for an as-yet-undetermined amount of time. 

“During the length of the term, we’ve had a total of six resignations, and four of them recently,” noted Deputy Mayor Keith Hull, council’s representative on the BIA board. “If I address the elephant in the room … that is not healthy for any organization.” 

He said he doesn’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to look back “from a negative perspective” but thought it was important not to repeat past mistakes. 

He noted it is important to incorporate town resources, possibly including the integrity commissioner, going forward. 

According to Almas’ report, the feedback she collected stated members of the board should have “effective and productive meeting training and support” and a “supportive and respectful culture.” 

There were also comments about “acceptance and ownership of mistakes” and “behaviours and attitudes” as areas for improvement. 

The report by Almas and Nicholson also noted the BIA should improve its relationship, engagement, and consultation of its membership. 

The BIA has a membership of more than 400 local businesses in the downtown area, all of which pay an annual levy to fund the BIA budget, which is used for downtown “revitalization” from flowers to banners to the farmers’ market and special events. 

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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