Ontario minister of transportation, Glenn Murray, addresses the meeting
Cycle Toronto 2014 AGM: Governance Issues and Activism Highlighted
Story and Photos by Joey Schwartz
Wednesday was a frigid spring evening for Cycle Toronto – the city's main cycling lobbying group by membership size – to hold its annual general meeting this past Wednesday. Over one hundred members arrived at The Round Event Space in Kensington Market on March 26 to vote for some new board members and pass bylaw amendments. There were more amendments this year than usual, and several of the governance issues being questioned caused heated debate.
The highlight of the evening happened early, when Cycle Toronto member, Ontario minister of transportation, Glenn Murray, addressed the meeting. He claimed to be the first transportation minister — since 1912 no less — to be car-free! He highlighted his department's recent legislation that introduced larger fines for dooring, the one-metre passing rule and paving all provincial highway shoulders for cyclists to use. He ended his speech by mentioning that he bicycles to work and lost about 32 kg in the process. as he put it, "by cycling to work, I burn fat, not oil."
The follow up act to the minister was the board of directors election. Due to members' terms expiring, or resignations, four positions on the 15-person board were vacant. 17 candidates originally put themselves forward, though at the meeting, it was revealed that Bateman’s Bicycle Company Ltd.’s founder, Robert Bateman, withdrew from race, although too late to be removed from the ballot. Cycle Toronto used Fair Vote Canada to oversee and run the election. They used what is known as the single transferable ballot system – a type of instant run-off vote until four candidates each received 50 percent of the vote – but due to technical disruptions from their computer software, the vote results were delayed until after the meeting was officially adjourned. The winners are listed below with abridged biographies.
New board members Liz Sutherland, Meredith James and Benjamin Leszcz
After the meeting was officially over, ward activist Liz Sutherland won one of the four seats on the board. She is a a policy analyst with fifteen years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors. She has an MA in Political Science and specializes in social/health policy and governance issues. Originally from Ottawa, she’s been a Cycle Toronto member since she moved to the city in 2011. She is one of the ward leaders that coordinates actions in Toronto’s west-end.
Meredith James is an environmental lawyer with a passion for cycling as transportation. Currently, she works at the Saxe Law Office, a boutique environmental law firm based at the Centre for Social Innovation – Annex (Cycle Toronto’s HQ).
Benjamin Leszcz is the managing director of the design and communications consultancy firm, Whitman Emorson. A Toronto native, Leszcz started his career in magazine journalism, working as an editor at Saturday Night, Toro and enRoute. In 2008, he shifted focus to digital, cofounding the online publication DailyXY and consulting for Google.
Tom Worrall is an Owner/operator Ticketmaster Canada. He helped the company grew to national status and become a leader in the industry. His last position was chairman and is now acting as a strategic advisor for the balance of 2014. He was the only candidate that had more than one board endorser to actually win a position on the board.
Newly elected board member Tom Worrall
Oddly, it seemed that the board’s endorsement didn’t count for much as Amanda Lewis, Benjamin Barby and Greg Burrell were not elected even though they had three or more board-members endorse them. It was interesting to see that the only candidate that got elected with more than one board supporter was Worrall, who had three BoD endorsers. Sutherland, only had one, as did James and Leszcz.
After the voting took place, Jared Kolb, the organization’s executive director, talked about the “victories” that Cycle Toronto achieved in the previous year. Mainly he highlighted the Bloor Street environmental assessment for bike lanes, the implementation of the new Shaw contraflow bike laws in the west end and the repeal of the single-file bylaw that was used to restrict cyclists to riding single-file in car lanes. Now, cyclists can ride two or even three-abreast, provided there’s another lane for the vehicle to pass. Finally, he mentioned that the new City Hall bike station will be the biggest one in North America when it is completed. The report was enthusiastically received.
The contentious part of the evening was dealing with nine-bylaw amendments. These amendments were presented by board president Robert Tarantino and Ward 21 captain Neil McDermott. Tarantino and McDermott were involved in months of back-and-forth discussion on these amendments, with the board agreeing to most of them. McDermott presented the non- board sanctioned amendments. In the end, seven of nine, were approved. These dealt with mostly minor “house-keeping” issues.
Cycle Toronto Executive Director Jared Kolb delivers his report
A long debate ensued over motions four and eight. These motions dealt with internal governance issues. In particular, Amendment Eight would allow more membership participation in board meetings by actually allowing them to observe them, get agendas in advance, and actually see minutes from the board meetings.
Amendment Four dealt more with financials and bringing the bylaws into compliance with pending provincial laws. It would have made the Letters Patent available at the AGM for members to see if they wished. It also called for a better, more detailed process to bring the yearly financial report before the membership. Amendment Four would have also meant that the yearly budget would be approved at the AGM.
Cycle Toronto Ward 21 captain Neil McDermott presents bylaw amendments four and eight
At times discussion got heated, and several members were attempting to use motions that were eventually ruled out of order and the meeting had to be extended twice continue to allow debate. Many people left by this time, and both motions failed, being defeated by substantial margins.
Cycle Toronto board president Robert Tarantino presents the bylaw amendments
With the amendment voting concluded, the meeting ended around 9:45 p.m., without the board candidate winners announced. They were announced around 10:30 p.m. at the after-meeting party held in the same room.
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