Mass resignations of Nanaimo economic development board members follow restructuring

NANAIMO – Chairman Andre Sullivan and vice-chairman Doug Kalcsics have both resigned from the board.

Andre Sullivan, chairman of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, has resigned, along with three other members of the board.

The economic development board will meet today (Nov. 3) to name a new chairman, after the resignation of Sullivan on Monday.

There has been an exodus of resigning board members at the economic development corporation, with seven confirmed since the start of last week. Vice-chairman Doug Kalcsics, Gloria Hatfield and Adrian Legin are among the latest to leave the volunteer board.

Another member had left in September.

Recent resignations come at a time when the economic development corporation faces a new mandate from the City of Nanaimo and partnering agreement.

The organization is also without a chief executive officer as John Hankins was fired last week after issuing an op-ed on the city decision to remove tourism from the umbrella of the corporation. He was the third CEO at the five-year-old corporation, now headed in the interim by economic development officer Amrit Manhas.

Sullivan, a board member since the corporation began and chairman for the past 18 months, said his resignation is not tied to the city decision on tourism, but is in large part because it got too busy.

“My business is going gangbusters right now and I just need to focus on it and I just didn’t see myself leading the organization through another period where there wasn’t a CEO in place,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time there. I think it’s an exceptional organization, it’s done some great work over the last six years and I think Nanaimo is a great place to do business and I will continue to support the growth of the economy through my private business.”

The economic development corporation board can be one to 17 members and quorum is 50 per cent plus one, according to Manhas, who expected the board to meet today to elect a new chairman and go over a draft partnering agreement with the city.

Ultimately Nanaimo city council names members of the board and will advertise vacancies.

It has, however, appointed two of its city employees, Philip Cooper, communications manager, and Brad McRae, chief operations officer, to the board during an in-camera meeting last week. Only Cooper will be a voting member.

Tracy Samra, chief administrative officer, was named the city’s representative earlier this year, but will no longer attend meetings, according to Cooper.

According to Mayor Bill McKay, Samra was in a situation where she was the sole shareholder’s representative and on the board, adding it’s “kind of an awkward position to be in.”

“You can’t sit at the board table one minute and direct orders to them at the next,” he said. “Far cleaner to appoint somebody else from the city so council gave Philip their blessing. He’s a pretty thoughtful guy and he’s pretty astute. I think he’s a good representative for us on the board.”