Action Team narrowly controls Vancity board; Wendy Holm, Lisa Barrett, and Jan O'Brien elected

Vancity has announced the results of the board of directors election. Only one of the three Action  Team candidates, Jan O'Brien (whose photo is on the home page), was elected.

The Action Team, previously known as the Action Slate, now holds five seats on the nine-member board. Vancity has more than 400,000 members and controls $14.5 billion in assets, making it the largest credit union in the province.

The Action Slate  was created in the 1980s by reformers, many with links to the provincial NDP. Its early directors included then-NDP MLA Bob Wiilliams, future venture capitalist  David Levi, future NDP cabinet minister Darlene Marzari, and lawyer Tim Louis, who later was elected to the park board and city council.

Williams,  who is now an independent director, has  claimed that the Action  Team is much more conservative these days.  

Incumbents Wendy Holm and Lisa Barrett were reelected. They were supported  by Williams, a  former Vancity chairman.

Holm, an agrologist and staunch defender of the Agricultural Land Reserve, collected 12,273 votes. O'Brien, a labour-relations expert, drew 9,715 votes in her first run for the board. Barrett, a former mayor of Bowen Island, received 8,996 votes in her reelection bid.

Incumbent Kim Griffith, who was supported by Williams, fell short, attracting 8,925 votes.

The other two Action  Team candidates--broadcaster Tod Maffin and communications worker Hugh Legg--came sixth and eighth, with 5,823 and 4,219 votes, respectively.

Williams, Holm, and Barrett have tried without success to persuade the Action Team-controlled board to  embrace recommendations contained in a 2007 report on the arts by Italian professor Pier Luigi Sacco.

Vancity commissioned the report, which called upon the board to take the following steps:

* establish an arts advocate on staff to coordinate development in this important sector

* make funding available for sponsorship of original art projects reflecting life in Vancouver

* consider an honourary role of "Artist in Residence", on a rotating two-year appointment, with an honourarium of $50,000 per year

* commence a process that would result in 20 percent of annual grants to community and nonprofit organizations going to the arts and cultural community

* consider specific funding approaches for the arts that support cooperative approaches

* become an advocate and partner in the development of an arts hub at 301 East Hastings Street

* support the creation of a "book bank" to facilitate access to cultural opportunities by the socially marginalized as well as the broader community

* encourage local ownership and management of Granville Island through the creation of a community Arts & Culture Trust

Related articles and letters to the editor:

Vancity slates battle right to the wire

Bob Williams endorses Vancity directors and opposes Action Team's alleged inaction on the arts

Will Vancity candidates support Sacco arts recommendations?

Vancity credit union getting ready to rumble




Apr 10, 2009 at 6:48pm

The original Action Slate was a progressive force. Today? A model of what can happen when the same people stay in power too long. In a word, intellectual ossification, an osteoporosis of the imagination.

Led by Bob Williams, the two newly-elected Board members join a movement to bring Vancity into the 21st Century. These progressive directors understand what can happen when Vancouver's largest credit union turns to a powerful intersection of arts and the new economy.

Artists, community leaders, activists in new forms of cooperative economics, environmentalists, and those who believe that Vancity can -- and must -- regain its leadership congratulate Lisa Barrett and Wendy Holm. Above all, we thank our members for choosing progress and bold imagination. They won the day.

We won the day.


Apr 10, 2009 at 8:47pm

I think the phrase would better have been "Together with" Bob Williams. "Led by" was a poor choice of words. Ms Barrett and Holm are independently strong thinkers and leaders, and well-chosen. So would have been Kim Griffith.

Mea culpa.