With $214,000 in debts, the Friends face certain doom as a society

FMRG President Travis Hunt, Treasurer Marie-Helene Ostiguy and Interim Executive Director Josee Timperio (all seated) address members of the Friends who attended an emergency meeting at Powder Springs Inn on Wednesday evening. Friends of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier photo

It is with profound regret that the board of directors of the Friends of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks announces it is recommending to the membership that the 25-year-old organization should immediately cease operations.

“The Friends have sustained debts in excess of $214,000,” FMRG President Travis Hunt told a bare quorum of 19 members who attended an emergency meeting of the 168-member group at Powder Springs.

“The vast majority of these 68 individual debts were concealed from the Board of Directors. They came to light only after Treasurer Marie-Helene Ostiguy and Interim Executive Director Josée Timperio went back through the Friends’ records and discovered the true extent of the group’s financial situation. Their findings were presented during an emergency board meeting held on November 23.”

Extensive amounts of money were owed to the Government of Canada for unpaid payroll taxes, contractors who worked to renovate the Balsam Lake store, suppliers, the City of Revelstoke, the Revelstoke Credit Union and other individuals, companies and organizations, many of them local.

On a related note, the organization is being audited by the Canada Revenue Agency because of its non-payment of payroll taxes.

“It’s impossible to make financial decisions when you’re not given the proper information,” Hunt said.

After three hours of sometimes-emotional discussion, directors voted to recommend closure of the organization to the Friends of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier’s membership.

“We’re insolvent and as soon as you’re insolvent you’re bankrupt,” lawyer Constance M. Brothers told the Friends.

Members were visibly shocked and a few were teary-eyed after hearing the true nature of the organization’s plight.

“You guys get to make the ultimate decision,” Hunt said.

With the facts out members started exploring avenues for disposing the Friends’ merchandise and retail.

Suggestions ranged from holding a mammoth fire sale at the Arlington Building or the Community Centre to using the Chamber of Commerce’s empty Visitor Information space at the corner of Orton and Victoria Road.

But first the Friends need to organize a convoy to Rogers’ Pass Centre to bring back all the merchandise in storage up in the Pass.

An e-mail asking for people with vehicles to meet at the RPC this Sunday will be sent to all members within the next couple of days.

As to the actual, formal vote to dissolve of the Friends, that won’t happen until the group can organize a meeting to vote on sometime in early 2013.

During its quarter-century of existence, the Friends have not only helped promote Revelstoke’s two nearby national parks, but worked to raise public awareness about critical environmental issues through organized hikes, bird-watching adventures and events such as the Chickadee Nature Festival.

Based on its current information the organization thinks it may have up to $90,000 in merchandise that it can sell to help pay off some of the debt. However, there is no realistic way to pay all of its debts.