The members hear Kootenay Co-op operations on solid finanical ground
The Kootenay Co-op held its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday at Selkirk College to discuss the current status of the organization and where things are headed as they move into 2016.
The meeting began with an introduction from current president John Steinman, who welcomed new members of senior management including Finance Manager Sean Silverson, Marketing and Outreach Manager Jaime Frederick, Grocery Manager Tabitha Archer and Deli Manager Christoph Martens.
Following the president’s report was a breakdown of the finances for this past year, explained in detail by Finance Manager Sean Silverson. Despite a poor economy and increased competition from major retailers looking to crack into the growing desire for locally sourced, organic food, the Co-op performed quite well this year.
An 8.6 per cent increase in sales resulted in an increase of over $1 million from last year, and while expenses also increased, this was mainly due to the addition of new positions at the Co-op and employee raises.
An issue of some contention was an increase in the amount of in-store credit given to the board directors. The move aimed to bump up the current amount for board directors to $230 from $180 a month, and to $250 from $190 for the Vice-President and to $275 from $200 for the President.
While a few members disagreed with this increase, the general feeling was one of support.
“I think the fact that we have a gazillion dollar enterprise, this is small potatoes we’re offering the board for putting in lots of work,” said a Co-op member in response to the complaint.
Other supporters shared this sentiment, with one saying: “I really want to applaud the board for putting in all those hours. We all shop at the co-op we all love the co-op, but we’re just shopping there and going home and enjoying it.
“The board is doing the same thing but they’re also putting in hours and hours, and when you look at what they’re being paid. They’re not being paid for their work. They work really hard for very small amount of money. I salute you.”
Following the discussion on member compensation was the appointment of new members to the Board of Directors; Liz Babcock, Abra Brynne, Alex Berland, Andrew Jarrett, Cathy-Ann Glockner and Stephan Martineau, who spoke through an email as he is currently in Montreal.
Nelson Commons Development Report
After a short break, the Member Information Meeting took place, opening with a development report from Nelson Commons Project Manager Russell Precious.
The report covered the history of the Commons project, and highlighted a few issues that have caused unexpected setbacks in construction and financing.
Among these was the discovery of asbestos in the cinder blocks during demolition of the forme Extra Foods Grocery Store.
“It was about $100,000 tab to clear that insulation out,” Precious explained.
“They can’t just vacuum it out, they have to break open every single brick and spray it with a glue so when the bricks are moved to the landfill there’s no asbestos flying out in the air.”
Another major issue was that despite initial reports of a small amount of contaminated soil, upon construction it was discovered that number was closer to 80 per cent.
“The RDCK is doing well financially this year, we paid them $228,000 to have that material parked in their dump site, and there are additional trucking fees. So that was about a $300,000 hit.
Between the asbestos and the contaminated soil, that wasn’t a great start. Luckily it didn’t get worse than that,” Precious said.
Another unfortunate setback involved the relationship between the BC Wineguys and an informal deal that involved them setting up shop in the new store.
However, they have since been purchased by the Jim Pattison Group and will no longer be moving into the Commons.
While this was certainly a bit of bad news, another organization has since stepped up and offered a potential partnership.
“We do have an understanding, not quite a closed deal but very close. The Fisherman’s Market are moving into our project. They are buying a shop on Hall St.,” Precious said.
Precious also mentioned another potential deal with an “Iconic Nelson institution” looking at the other half, but because the deal isn’t yet official the company didn’t want to be named in the presentation.
As far as residential property goes, 44 out of 54 units have been sold or are pending sales, with the top floor completely sold out.
The meeting concluded with flowers for departing directors Zoë Creighton, Paula Sobie and Susan Morrison.