President’s AGM speech

AGM speech 2012 by Robert Berkhout, President.

Welcome dear friends and thank you for coming to London farm tonight. Welcome to Councilor Chak Au, the new liaison for the City of Richmond.

Welcome to City of Richmond representatives: Connie Baxter and Peter Harris.

A number of Board members will not be standing for re election.

Marianne Kurlak will retire after 20 relentless years of various functions and precious contributions to the Society. We will miss her dignified charm.

Sally Mercer will not return to the Board table but we all hope that she will continue to contribute her ever growing expertise and remarkable good taste for gardening.

We also say good bye to Jerry Muir who time and again brought useful insights to a whole array of issues we have been facing.

Jerry was notoriously 5 minutes late at meetings, but luckily his ideas and corrections always arrived just on the right moment.

Thank you so much, Marianne, Sally and Jerry.

In a few minutes the directors will entertain the standing items for this evening, but I would like to dedicate my last speech as Chair to some remarks in general.

London Farm has come to a cross road. With almost each part of the Farm growing, there is a demand for more regulations and clearer guidelines for both staff and volunteers.

Managing London Farm has become more challenging over the years. Costs of almost everything are rising and we are dealing with a growing number of visitors to the park as well as the increasing popularity of in and outdoor events.

Wonderful as that may be, it also comes with more strain on a simple Society, struggling with less volunteer hours available.

Some of the once good functioning policies need to be reviewed. However:  London Farm is by nature all about tradition and preserving the past.  And with that in mind we have to be careful with too much re-inventing and changes.

“Where do we go from here?” was the question we asked ourselves at a special meeting last month. The discussion that ensued from that meeting will be continued by the next Board, as will the urgent review of the   Society Bylaws.    We intend to present revised Bylaws to the Members at the next AGM.

The London Heritage Society does not enjoy any substantial financial support from any government or institutions. So it is up to us, the volunteers, to keep this place up and running and to meet the always increasing expectations.

In a healthy society progress is inevitable and with it come growing pains and fits.  I think it is safe to say that last year was a testing one for this Board, but there is ample evidence we will come out stronger than ever.

Greg Halsey Brand said in his retirement speech a few months ago:  “you guys have come a long way”, and so we did.

When I look at the list of names of volunteers who want to join the new Board, it is clear evidence that LF will continue to play its strong and important role in the communities of Richmond and Steveston

I enjoyed being Chair, most of time. I feel it was a special honor for a new immigrant to have had the chance to play a small role somewhere in a corner of Canada. It really made me feel part of a wonderful country, and it is true that by volunteering one can make dear friends.

It took me some time to fully understand the phenomenon of volunteering, and it keeps surprising me what can be established with a relatively small group of dedicated people.

Many times I have thanked you for your support, but never enough. That is why I want to end my task as President with a very big thank you.