March 26, 2021
Hello all Semiahmoo property owners.
Your 2021 Semiahmoo Residents Association Board of Directors believes community concern, passion and commitment is admirable and embraces that. This is YOUR community and everyone on the Board welcomes your feedback – positive or negative. It is our intent to be responsive.
The Covid pandemic has created challenges and deficiencies in communication, forcing us to use ZOOM for remote meetings. To overcome those challenges, we’ve made it a point to encourage Community participation with Town Halls, open Board meetings, with open forums, and formalized additional communication channels.
We are very aware that there have been multiple petitions making their rounds in the community initiated by a group of members, who also requested to meet with members of the Board. We welcomed the opportunity to meet and discuss items of mutual concern, however, one of those members retained legal counsel that sent demands to the Board. This was responded to by SRA legal counsel and once that occurred, we were constrained in our ability to meet without certain conditions being met. Their petitions were acknowledged and responded to by the SRA Executive Director without a reply from the group.
We became aware during the run-up to the AGM last fall that there was pushback concerning the consulting contract with Joint Partners (JP). The reason for the pushback was due to the amount committed to be spent, the lack of resident input, and the length of the contract term. They were retained to: 1) perform an in-depth analysis of areas of significant liability and risk to the Community, 2) assist us in better defining how to work more effectively as a BOD and correct identified deficiencies, 3) develop a more efficient and effective management structure (training), and 4) formalize SRA Committees in order to create continuity from year to year and for more effective use of volunteer time. In addition, we needed a more effective and efficient relationship between SRA staff and the resident BOD members and committees. After this contractual relationship concludes at the end of this month, we believe that the Board, staff and the committees are in a much better place to manage OUR community, with our responsibilities much better defined. We have no plans to hire back Joint Partners; they have provided us with critically needed and useful services over the past 6+ months. The contract ends March 30th and is not being extended or renewed.
We know many of you have concerns that appear to be centered around how the BOD is spending your SRA assessments. In addition, many residents don’t believe that they are being listened to. We are writing this communication to address those concerns. To address the concern about spending money, we are in the process of re-defining Needs vs. Wants in our 2021 spending. We realize now that the 2021 Operational and Reserve budgets that were sent out at the 2020 AGM potentially had spending items that were desired rather than necessary. Led by newly placed or elected in 2021 BOD members, of which there are currently five, we are in the process of a review of all spending, and you can expect to see changes this year significantly reducing several fairly high-budget items. A couple of those large already identified items include:
- $70K in accounting and ED mentoring fees from April to Dec 2021
- $65K in SRA Center finishing costs
To address the concerns about perceptions of the BOD not listening to you, the residents, and members of our community, we have instituted the following in the past couple of months:
- Established multiple Town Hall meetings to present what has been accomplished recently as well as listen to feedback from the community
- Modified the annual budgeting process so that there will be multiple opportunities for resident feedback PRIOR to the AGM voting period so that community sentiment is embedded
- Created more effective methods of interactivity through the Communications Committee, with many outbound and inbound channels and have assigned responsibility for each to a Committee member
We acknowledge that we, as your Board members, are not perfect, and will not make the most popular or perhaps even the best decision every time a circumstance comes our way. But we need you to understand that we will always try to make the best decisions for the entire community. We know that we need to gain back your trust so that you will always have confidence in us to represent you.
Lastly, we know that the current Proxy Vote appears to be focused on the potential removal of our current SRA BOD President, Alec Berkman, from the Board, perhaps because he is seen as a significant reason why things are not harmonious in our community. We would like to state that we Board Members support our current President Alec Berkman in his current role, and we believe that he is best suited to lead our Community Board through the remainder of 2021. Alec’s passion and effort to spend whatever time and energy is needed AS A VOLUNTEER to address our community issues is commendable.
Thanks for taking time to read this. This Board is committed to better communication and processes to build trust, and we look forward to seeing you on at the 3rd scheduled online Town Hall on March 31st.
Your SRA Board of Directors
For your own copy of this letter please click on the link to letter below!