The Columbia Basin Trust announced changes to its board last Thursday, but though there are four new directors, there is still no one from Castlegar on the board.
The four new directors are Corky Evans, a founding member of the Trust, from Winlaw, David Raven from Revelstoke, Murray McConnachie from Trail and Jocelyn Carver from Nelson.
The existing directors are re-instated board chair Rick Jensen from Cranbrook, new vice-chair Wendy Booth from Fairmont, Larry Binks from Creston, Am Naqvi from Nelson, Laurie Page from Nakusp, Loni Parker from Revelstoke, Vickie Thomas from ?aq’am and Jeannette Townsend from Valemount.
There are 12 directors on the Trust board and all of them must live in the Columbia Basin region.
Each regional district — the Regional District of Central Kootenay, the Regional District of East Kootenay, the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District — and Ktunaxa Nation Council are allowed to nominate up to four individuals for the Lieutenant Governor of B.C. to choose from, according to the Trust’s board policies.
The Lieutenant Governor then appoints one director from each of the five regional districts and from the Ktunaxa Nation Council.
But Trust president and CEO Johnny Strilaeff says in practice each regional district and the Ktunaxa Nation Council usually puts forth one name.
“What really happens in practice is each of those bodies will put forward an individual and the minister, technically I suppose, could choose not to support that nominee — that has never happened and I suspect that would never happen — but then they would be appointed,” said Strilaeff.
The Lieutenant Governor also appoints the other six directors on behalf of the province.
Anyone interested in one of the provincially appointed board of director spots puts in an application to the Crown Agencies and Board Resourcing Office (CABRO) — a central government agency that “oversees the recruitment and recommendation of candidates for appointments to all Crown corporations, agencies, boards and commissions.”
“Then they will make names available ultimately to, really its the minister responsible for whatever Crown that is. So in the case of Columbia Basin Trust, it would be Minister Katrine Conroy, and the minister would be expected to put forth an opinion and take it to her colleagues in cabinet with a recommendation,” explained Strilaeff.
The Lieutenant Governor would then appoint a director or directors based on the recommendation.
But again, Strilaeff said things play out a little differently in practice.
“When there is a vacancy among the six that are appointed directly by the province, we chat and we have a skills matrix for our board directors and those ministers have really been terrific in taking our feedback on the types of skills and attributes we need around the board table and then taking that into account when they’ve made a decision on an appointee,” he said.
The board of directors establishes and annually reviews two documents, “Board Member Attributes” and “Board of Directors Competencies and Desired Diversity,” which outline the capabilities and attributes, the required and desired competencies and the attributes considered under diversity when choosing board members.
For instance, all board members should have an “understanding of community development/engagement” and a “knowledge and understanding of the Trust and the Basin,” while the investment committee chair must have “financial and investment fluency” and “experience in or with commercial credit.”
“A terrific example is something like finance and audit where it is important that we do have at least one individual around our board table with strong experience in that role given the nature of our corporation, the size and the importance of the audit function, so if we were to lose the individual we currently have with that expertise, it would be critically important that the appointee bring that skill and experience,” explained Strilaeff.
The Trust president said there have been directors who lived in Castlegar on the board before and he has spoken to individuals from Castlegar who are interested in future appointments.
“I’ve spoken to individuals from Castlegar who have expressed an interest and I’ve had really good discussions and what I’ve done is encouraged them then to put their names forward through [CABRO],” he said.
Strilaeff also points out that the Columbia Basin Trust represents over 30 communities and with only 12 spots on the board, not every community can have someone on the board.
One of the attributes listed under “Diversity” in the “Board of Directors Competencies and Desired Diversity” is “Geography,” yet there are two directors from Nelson and two from Revelstoke.
Asked why there’s nothing in place to limit it so that any given community can only have one director on the board, given that not every community can have a director on the board in the first place, Strilaeff said, “It’s not a restriction … and when we look at something like geography, we wouldn’t look at just any specific snapshot in time. We would look over a reasonable period because there are so many communities in the region and it’s not possible to have every single community with a member, so it’s just circumstance right now the way it’s worked out with a couple from Nelson.”
He said that during his time with the Trust since 2005 there has been very good cross-representation from the entire region.
Strilaeff said he feels great about the board as announced last Thursday.
“We’ve met now on a few different occasions with the new board and there’s a learning curve. There are perceptions out there of the Trust and for many folks they interact with us as part of granting work, for example, and there’s a perception that that’s all the Trust is about and for new directors there is a huge learning curve as they become more familiar with how broad and complex our business is,” he said. “And what I’ve really been encouraged by, these new directors, they work through an extensive orientation period and the types of questions they’ve asked and how quickly they’ve got up to speed, I’m really encouraged.”