City staying out of LSRC controversy

Municipality has no seat on board of directors, so it has no say

Langley City may own the land the Langley Seniors Resources Centre (LSRC) stands on, but it doesn’t have a say over how the facility is operated.

Chief Administrative Officer Francis Cheung confirmed to The Times that the City has been approached by some members of the LSRC to appear before council to ask for council intervention.

Cheung said City staff explained that the lease agreement between the municipality and the seniors society doesn’t give the City a say over day-to-day operations.

“The City of Langley is not on the board (of directors of the centre),” Cheung said.

“We don’t have a role in terms of governing.”

The lease agreement for the property at 20605 51B Ave. is for 50 years.

In addition to donating the land, the city paid the centre $40,000 every year from 1998 to 2014 (plus a top-up $72,000 payment last year) to retire the mortgage on the building.

Last month, Sharon Birnie, the co-founder of the LSRC, told The Times the internal dissension at the centre has reached the point where the City of Langley should take over running the facility.

“It could be a parks and rec (department) run centre,” Birnie said.

If the current battles continue, Birnie said she fears the result will be the “destruction of a fabulous support system for seniors.”

Birnie sent an email message to the current president and board of directors of the centre society in April to ask that her name be removed from the centre’s main hall and that “any other signage and advertising that uses my name be discontinued.”

Society board chair Shauna Sailer has said the board was “saddened” by  the request, and hoped she would change her mind.

Birnie told The Times she doesn’t want her name associated with the centre any more because of the current dispute over spending cuts and policy changes that she believes has brought the centre to the point of collapse.

Birnie said the centre managed to handle big deficits in the past without upsetting members and forcing out long-time staff, something she says the current administration has done.

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.

In May, by a three-to-one margin, the board of directors won a show-of-hands vote on a resolution that would have removed the entire board of directors.

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

Sailer said the people campaigning against the changes at the centre were a “select, small group … who appear to be on a mission to destroy the very foundation of this society.”

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