The current board of The Land Conservancy has grasped the nettle and made management and operational changes essential for the survival of the organization and continued protection of the many properties in its care. While this doesn't guarantee the society's survival, it's a major and difficult first step.
I want to communicate renewed hope and trust to the people who were not at the Nov. 3 annual general meeting and therefore not witness to some important changes that were shared. I feel that many past supporters gave up on TLC when they discovered their trust was misplaced and now dismiss any statements made by the current board because they are the same people who ignored the issues until recently.
As a former board member and treasurer who has been very critical of past management practices, I truly understand that. How-ever, following the AGM and recent conversations with individual directors and others, I feel the board is now heading on a path that could, with significant community support, bring TLC back from the abyss and render it sustainable at last.
The community knows there is a serious risk to all TLC properties. These were "saved" over the years by innumerable people who each cared about their special places. They gave time, energy and enthusiasm (plus millions of dollars) in the belief that they were conserving such places "forever for everyone." If the B.C.-wide community can assist TLC in financial recovery, the efforts of everyone who has supported TLC's goals will be honoured and B.C. will be a much better place for it.
At the AGM, we learned of an impressive group of advisors that Vancity has recently involved to assist TLC in working its way through transition. As a leader in social enterprise, VanCity has said it wants to help restore confidence in the land trust/conservancy movement in B.C. The credit union is in a strong position to do so and the board is working with it.
The executive made statements that should give confidence to existing, new or returning members and donors. These include operating within TLC's income, applying donations exactly where each donor requests, capping and reducing the debt and being transparent.
Board members have recognized that it makes good business sense to have a financial person reporting directly to the board and currently they have that in place, as their qualified chief financial officer is also the general manager.
It is extremely difficult to raise funds for short-term debt. Generally, people want their donations to go to something more tangible.
However, every property is at risk unless $1.2 million is raised promptly to retire past operating debt. Then the focus can be on securing those properties through a range of options as operating costs are managed proficiently. This board is making very positive moves to address TLC's problems but will need member and donor support to achieve these goals.
Let's put the trust back in TLC: Memberships and donations are an essential step in securing the properties that so many people value. Therefore it is for a tangible asset.
Peta Alexander was a director of The Land Conservancy from 2002 to 2009.
© Copyright 2013