qathet Regional District’s (qRD) board of directors will not be forwarding correspondence it received regarding prospective name changes for Powell River Historical Museum and Archives and Powell River Academy of Music.
At the March 25 regional board meeting, directors considered correspondence asking that organizations such as the museum and music academy, if they want to be considered for grant funding from qRD, change the Powell River portion of the organizations’ names to qathet.
Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall said he supported sending the correspondence to the museum, not because he thinks the name should change, but for its board to be aware of the contents of the letter.
“In my view, choosing to forward this correspondence does not imply any endorsement of requests made in the correspondence,” said Fall. “The motion is to forward, not to endorse. Also, as previously discussed at the committee of the whole meeting, it would be inappropriate and not even possible for the regional board to make recommendations about name changes to other organizations. My support for this is to make sure the museum has this correspondence and they will do with it what they want.”
Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said she didn’t support the motion but she did support replying to the correspondent, suggesting they write directly to the museum and the music academy.
“If they write directly, then we are not involved and I don’t think we should be involved,” said McCormick. “It would be better to defeat the motion that’s on the floor and pass another motion to reply to the correspondent indicating they write directly to the museum and the music academy.”
Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said the correspondence was in relation to how the board could potentially issue grant funding to a separate, non-profit organization. He said he thought it was normal and in order for the board to forward correspondence from the public to other committees that operate as part of the regional district. He added that what is not entirely normal is for the board to forward correspondence from a member of the public to another self-operating organization.
Gisborne supports McCormick alternative
“It’s problematic for the following reasons,” said Gisborne. “Letters and initiatives sent from this board to other organizations, according to policy 2.9, are supposed to be written by members of this organization. If the topic is controversial, or divisive, it is the organization, the regional district, that should be the target for potential public backlash. The chair or the chief administrative officer as the authors of letters are then responsible for handling the fallout of any such action.”
Gisborne said the letter writer was not a member of the regional board or the regional district organization. He said the museum and music academy are very aware of the letter to the regional board. He said he thinks it is inappropriate that the letter go out under someone’s name who is not associated with the regional district, with the regional district’s backing.
“If we are going to send a letter about potentially changing the name, then it should come from the regional board chair or the chief administrative officer,” said Gisborne. “The alternative that has been put forward by director McCormick, I think is a great one, and I would be very happy to support it.”
The regional board considered a motion to forward the correspondence on the Powell River Historical Museum and Archives and Powell River Academy of Music funding and name change to the museum board. The motion was defeated, with three directors in favour and four opposed.