A fresh challenge to the BC Tree Fruits Co-operative board has been voted down.
A special general meeting in Penticton on February 5 saw 70% of the co-op’s voting members reject motions that aimed to unseat four of the co-op board’s 10 members and change the decision-making process regarding property sales.
The motions did not garner the two-thirds majority required to pass, and failed.
“With the meeting now behind us, the Board of Directors can focus fully on the future, working closely with management and the membership to continue with the facility improvement and consolidation plans first announced in August of 2022,” co-op chair Robert Stewart said in a press release.
The meeting was closed to media, as was a previous meeting in November 2022 that saw a bid to turf co-op directors. The meeting 13 months ago also attracted 70% of the voting membership, with the resolutions voted down.
Both meetings were fuelled by grower dissatisfaction with the co-op’s plans to consolidate packing operations in Oliver and sell off assets in Lake Country in Kelowna.
Co-op members claimed that the co-op did not adequately consult them prior to announcing the consolidation plans, and had even maintained that a new state-of-the-art plant on Old Vernon Road in Kelowna continued to be the plan.
The co-op’s CEO at the time, Warren Sarafinchan, took growers’ concerns to heart, pledging to greater transparency with growers.
“With the turn out we had, it shows that we need to be continuing to talk to our members,” he said. “Growers care deeply about the success of the cooperative and we need to be continuing to do all the right things with our communication.”
With the packing plant upgrades in Oliver approximately 70% complete, interim CEO Doug Pankiw is focused on the future transformation and stabilization of the co-op.
“The tree fruit industry continues to be faced with many challenges, but we are committed to finding sustainable solutions that will strengthen the cooperative to the benefit of all its members and our valued customers,” Pankiw said following this week’s meeting.
A permanent successor for Sarafinchan, who stepped down as CEO last August, has not been named.