Hundreds of members and users of Langley Seniors Recreation and Resources Centre attended a stormy meeting Tuesday, called in an attempt to oust the current board. Controversy has been swirling over a series of decisions about staffing and programs at the centre.

Battle over Langley seniors centre draws crowd

Voting members defeated a resolution that would have removed the entire board of directors at a Tuesday meeting.

The Langley Seniors Recreation and Resources Centre will continue to be run by the current board of directors, following an extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday that voted to keep them on the job.

On a show of hands, voting members defeated a resolution that would have removed the entire board of directors.

The margin was three to one against.

Several hundred people attended the meeting, overflowing the main hall into the foyer.

Many were members of the centre, not the society, and did not have voting rights.

Both sides in the battle agreed the centre has become a stressful and unpleasant place for many members, staff and volunteers.

Words like “bullying and harassment,” “dysfunctional,” and “toxic” were used to describe the situation at the centre during a Tuesday afternoon emergency meeting of the Langley Senior Resources Society, the non-profit group that operates the facility at 20605 51B Ave.

Each side complained the other was unfairly using membership lists to lobby for support.

At issue is the way some staff and members have been treated recently, with the pro-board and anti-board factions each accusing the other of bad behaviour.

Several centre employees have either quit or gone on medical leave since the board appointed new management with a mandate to cut costs, including food expenses for the centre cafe and what was described as “excessive” overtime by employees.

Sharon Birnie, one of the founders of the centre, has asked that her name be removed from the centre’s main meeting hall.

During the meeting, board chair Shauna Sailer said the board was “saddened” by Birnie’s request, and hoped she will change her mind.

Sailer said the people campaigning against the changes at the centre were a “select, small group.

“They appear to be on a

mission to destroy the very foundation of this society,” Sailer said.

Sailer predicted disaster if the board was voted out, warning it could mean the end of the society and someone else taking over the centre.

“It is actually quite scary,” Sailer said.

She said the critics do not appear to understand the society has a deficit of $95,000 that must be addressed.

“The society is expected to operate within its means,” Sailer said.

Barb StackThe former executive director of the centre, Barb Stack, was cheered by some when she spoke at the meeting and told the board the centre has routinely run deficits in the past.

Stack said the board is to blame for the current problems, because it picked the wrong people to run the centre.

Another speaker, Joyce King, said opponents of the changes are trying to save the centre, not destroy it.

King said staff at the centre are being mistreated under the new regime.

Other speakers who supported the board said it was time to end the paralysis caused by the controversy and to move on.

“I see no reason for this meeting,” Bob Fulford said.

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