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Cultus Park Board commissioner steps down to focus on election

The configuration of the Cultus Lake Park Board is set to change after this fall
The configuration of the Cultus Lake Park Board is set to change after this fall's election.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

A Cultus Lake Park Board commissioner says he was "compelled" to step down just a few short months before the next election.

Bob McCrea suddenly resigned from the Cultus Lake Park Board this week.

The former park board chair said he'll now be devoting his energy to getting new people elected in upcoming elections, when the new configuration takes effect.

Come the November election, for the first time, there will be three commissioners elected by Cultus lake residents and leaseholders, and two by Chilliwack residents. The new, streamlined park board of five, was reduced in size from seven by the B.C. government, with the help of Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness. It went from a historic configuration of five voted from Chilliwack, and two from Cultus to the new board composition.

"It's a huge step forward for the residents of Cultus Lake," Bob McCrea told The Progress.

During his term on the board he worked closely with a group of local residents who turned out to be instrumental in getting the Cultus Lake Park Act amended, whereby the majority of the Board will now be elected by the residents of Cultus Lake.

"The Board was asked to facilitate this change to the Cultus Lake Park Act but four commissioners refused to support it, so the changes were initiated without their knowledge," he wrote in his resignation letter. "This positive change gives Cultus Lake residents the ability to choose good leadership from within their own community.

"I believe I can now serve the public better by spending the next three months free of the constraints of the board, working to ensure the best candidates get elected."

He was frustrated when some park board members and senior staff showed what he says was "blatant disregard" for their essential customer base.

"My desire is, and always has been, to serve and benefit this community by offering the experience that I have gained over my lengthy business career," McCrea stated in his letter published in a lake newsletter.

McCrea was elected to the park board in 2011 on a platform to restore "old-fashioned service and respect" for park stakeholders, as well as improving park issues, transparency and accountability. He came to the job with decades of experience in the business world, in real estate and property management.

"In that 40-year career I have never experienced such blatant disregard by management, in this case some Commissioners and some senior Park Staff, for their “customers” (i.e. residential and commercial leaseholders, staff and the public) as I have during my tenure as Commissioner," he wrote.

Park Board meeting minutes make it clear McCrea often voted against motions that he believed either violated, or appeared to violate, the Cultus Lake Park Act or bylaws or those that somehow overstepped board authority.

One high profile example was the attempt to shut down question period permanently by some members of the park board who felt insulted by an alleged lack of "respect" shown by some leaseholders.

"This was a clear breach of the Park’s bylaw, and this bylaw breach was confirmed by the B.C. Ombudsperson," he noted.

Nonetheless his service as a commissioner was both "a privilege and an honour," he added, and he gave thanks to several before his departure.

"First of all, thank you to the Commissioners who, didn’t always agree with me, but supported me and respected my opinion.

"Thank you to the residents, commercial tenants and staff who have often had words of encouragement and supported my efforts to bring forward issues of common concern. It humbled me when individuals would seek me out to discuss their concerns or to seek my advice."

In response, the Cultus Lake Park Board officially accepted McCrea's resignation this week.

“I would like to thank Bob McCrea for his service to the Cultus Lake Park Board," said Park board chair Sacha Peter, in a news release.

"We wish him success in his future endeavours.”

Section 9 of the Cultus Lake Park Act now calls upon City of Chilliwack to appoint a new park board member to hold the position for the remainder of the current term of office.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

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