EDITORIAL: Volunteers sidelined by the courts

The provincial government needs to make changes to legislation to ensure conflicts are avoided while allowing volunteerism to continue

One has to wonder when B.C. Court of Appeal judges volunteered in their community?

If they did, they would understand there is an extremely short supply of individuals who willingly give up their own time to help organizations around them. And it’s increasingly difficult to get people to lend a hand as life seems to get busier.

So what did the B.C. Court of Appeals do? They have made it more difficult for groups to attract volunteers by declaring that elected officials are in conflict of interest when participating in a non-profit society that receives civic funding.

In Enderby, there has already been one casualty as Coun. Brad Case has resigned from his role with the chamber of commerce.

That’s unfortunate as Case brought a wealth of business and community experience to the chamber. And, in turn, he could provide knowledge about the chamber’s inner workings to his council colleagues.

Many communities, and particularly small ones, don’t have the luxury of differentiating between people who sit on municipal council or regional district and those who volunteer with a service agency or business group. Often multiple hats are worn.

Yes conflict of interest can occur but there is provincial legislation that clearly outlines the guidelines. And the simple solution is for a politician not to be involved in the discussion on a group they belong to, particularly if that organization receives public funding.

The provincial government needs to review the court ruling and make changes to legislation to ensure conflicts are avoided while allowing volunteerism to continue.

 

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