Less than three weeks after the New Democratic Party levelled conflict of interest allegations against Pebble in the Pond Environmental Society president Judi Tyabji in the BC legislature, a notice has been posted on the society’s Facebook page that the non-profit has been dissolved.
The statement reads, in part, “On March 14, 2016, at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors of Pebble in the Pond Environmental Society, the board unanimously voted in favour of this motion: In order to protect the society and its accomplishments, the board of directors has unanimously agreed to dissolve the society effective immediately.”
The post also touted the society’s many successes in education and advocacy for environmental sustainability in the Powell River region.
According to City of Powell River councillor Karen Skadsheim, who was an original director on the society’s board when it was formed in 2008 and stepped down in 2010, there is more to dissolution of a society than a motion from the board.
“As I understand it, in order to dissolve a society, you have to hold a general meeting,” said Skadshiem. “There’s some specific requirements through the [BC Society Act], including an affidavit from the directors, and there needs to be a liquidator appointed to dispense with the assets of the society and report to the membership what’s happening to those assets.”
The statement from the society board cited conflict of interest allegations against Tyabji by the NDP on March 10 during question period in the provincial legislature and the subsequent public response.
“This series of media and social media attacks have all come from people who are traditionally associated with the NDP or environmental causes, and the nature of the negativity is escalating,” the statement claimed.
The controversy resulted from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by the NDP into Pebble in the Pond’s Tanned, Wild and Woolly project, funded through the BC and federal government’s Job Creation Partnership (JCP) program. The original JCP grant for $126,600 was announced in June 2014. It was extended for a total of $181,635 invested in the project.
“The documents released through freedom of information, and my colleagues’ questions about what those documents revealed do not constitute an attack,” said Nicholas Simons, NDP MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast. “British Columbians have a right to know how $181,000 of their money got spent.”
The society board appointed Tyabji project supervisor of Tanned, Wild and Woolly. She did not step down as president of the society while employed as manager, collecting a salary of $67,000.
The society’s social media statement also claimed it received negative attention during its involvement with efforts to protect Lot 450 from logging.
“In the spring of 2015, Pebble in the Pond came under partisan attack by people in Powell River for its work to protect the urban forest,” according to the statement. “These people were involved in other groups working to protect the trees, and they targeted Pebble in the Pond, alleging a connection to the Liberal provincial government.”
Requests for comment from board members of Pebble in the Pond were not returned by press time.