The South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting was all but business as usual Tuesday afternoon.
Moments after the meeting was called to order in Rotary Field House (14600 Rotary Way), chamber member Gary Gumley raised concerns with the bylaws governing the chamber, which were passed April 21, 2016.
“Those bylaws are not approved by Industry Canada, therefore this meeting should be rescheduled for another time,” Gumley told the gathering, attended by 25 voting members.
“I don’t agree with you,” responded chamber president Jim Purcell.
Gumley – president of ChamberTech Solutions – made a motion to challenge the chair. Purcell refused the challenge, which sent a vote to the membership.
After a disagreement from both men on whether the vote was debatable, Purcell allowed Gumley to speak before a vote.
“I am mortified that I need to stand in front of you and ask you to reconsider the reason for this meeting,” Gumley said, noting that he contacted Industry Canada that morning and confirmed that they have not approved the bylaws.
“Therefore, this AGM is not constitutional, and I have legal council… that states that any activity that occurs under the offices of this meeting is illegal and against the laws. Therefore, I would like to see my motion approved and this meeting rescheduled until the third of October.”
Before calling the vote, Purcell stated he disagreed with Gumley, and that the chamber is acting “in good faith.”
Chamber treasurer Jeff Richards restated the question to the membership, which was “to continue this meeting under the bylaws approved by the membership where it’s noted that it has not been approved by Industry Canada.”
Twenty-two members voted in favour of the motion and three voted against.
The call for nays was followed by loud clapping from Gumley.
“Don’t get sarcastic, Mr. Gumley,” chamber executive director Cliff Annable said from the sidelines.
“Excuse me?” Gumley responded.
Purcell carried on with the AGM minutes, financial statements and other business. Near the end of the meeting, Gumley spoke again, raising concerns with the bylaw issue.
“I’m sorry, you’re out of order,” Purcell said to Gumley.
“You can rule me out of order, but you are incorrectly stating the facts,” Gumley said.
“You are out of order,” Purcell responded.
“What would you like to do?” said Gumley.
“I would like continue,” Purcell responded.
Before the meeting that was adjourned, Gumley requested to remove his ballot from the board of directors election, then requested to speak to the withdrawal.
“I would like you to all reflect on what’s the sense of having bylaws and rules if one chooses to ignore them at precisely the time that they should be following them. Excuses of why the rules shouldn’t be followed are not acceptable. Paramount in our democracy is when rules are made they should be followed,” Gumley said, adding that his statement is a reflection of his beliefs.