He’s at it again.
Seguin Township councillor Alex Chidley can’t seem to leave well enough alone.
Chidley, a stickler for details around the municipal council table when he can accuse fellow councilors of violating rules dictating process and procedure, now insists the details of the Foley agricultural society’s constitution aren’t worth the time it takes to follow them.
The agricultural society’s constitution governing membership votes requires any members remain in good standing for three years in order to vote on significant issues. Most membership-based organizations have similar bylaws – or should have. Those rules mean only people who care enough to support an organization for several years can make significant decisions about the future. They prevent bandwagon memberships, where a angry individual can solicit 50 friends and family members who have had nothing to do with an organization to become last-minute members to carry out a coup – outvoting longtime supporters who really care and understand the entity they’ve been part of.
Sure, these substantive issues rarely come up for most such organizations. But occasionally they do, and they have for the Foley agricultural society.
The society has a difficult and emotional decision to make. If it parts with ownership of the building members helped build 49 years ago, Seguin Township, as the new owner, will apply for grants to renovate the facility. But Seguin officials have clearly indicated the best of intentions. If the work isn’t started by April 2014, the ownership reverts back to the agricultural society. If, within the next 20 years, the township ever wants to part with the building and property, ownership reverts back to the agricultural society. After 20 years, when the proposed memorandum of understanding expires, ownership reverts back to the agricultural society.
The risk here is minimal. The potential return – an improved library and community centre – is great.
And Chidley wants members to quash it all because he can’t vote against it. Sure, there may be some members who have worked diligently for the agricultural society for years, volunteering for the fall fair and other events, or sitting on the board, but haven’t paid their $5 membership dues.
For those people, this may be a harsh lesson about the rules such organizations must have in place to remain viable when contentious issues come up. Without such rules, a personal vendetta and last-minute membership campaign could instantly destroy non-profit groups.
As for the 30 or so members who have a vote tonight, well, they participate in the fair every year. They are all members of the Foley community. They are the very people who should be voting and making this historic decision.
There are some occasions where Chidley stands up for the underdog in Seguin Township. But in too many instances, he appears to make a mountain out of a molehill, slowing progress with his misplaced anger. This is one of those instances.