Since the November 24th, 2021 takeover of the Community Centre executive, four members of the new board and the pickle ball group they represent, have sought to undermine the continued independent operation of the Tennis Association. On Sunday, May 1st, several of the conflict of interest executive members pushed onto the tennis courts and began their illegal occupation of a once vibrant tennis facility.
It’s time for the community to be informed and to be made aware of this precedent setting invasion. Despite a class action lawsuit being filed against certain Community Centre board members, the pickle ball group continues its aggressive behaviour. The following letters of protest from concerned residents outline the actions leading up to this point as well as the far reaching effects this will have on the culture of volunteerism on the island. Please take the time to read through these passionately written communications.
March 17, 2022
(Letter sent to Adrian Gowing, President of the Tennis Association and to Catherine McNeil, President of the Mayne Island Community Centre)
Re: Mayne Island Tennis Association Tennis Courts
I am writing to you today to state my continued support for the Tennis Club to retain and control the tennis courts that are on the grounds of the Community Centre.
The work done by this dedicated group of people over the years should not be swept under the rug or ignored in any way. The tennis group worked diligently to raise funds to move the tennis courts from the Fire Hall property to its present location. They were welcomed and encouraged to occupy the present site by the Community Centre Board of Directors. They raised over a $100,000, which took a lot of work, to allow them to enter grant applications for the full amount of funds needed to move the courts to their present site. They were able to get the grants to complete the work and to build funds to maintain the courts for the use of not only members of the Association but members of our community to play tennis. Visitors have always been able to book court time for friendly games with their friends on the island. The Association is a separate entity with their own charter, insurance and responsibilities from the Community Centre assets. There would also have to be a legal agreement between the two parties to allow for the installation of the tennis courts.
Mayne Island has come through some very interesting times with the recent growth of our population and the arrival of many who feel that they must immediately change everything here to their standards. This is also being reflected in the present situation for the pending removal of the tennis courts, as tennis courts, and make the site available to the Pickle Ball players. I disagree with this entire process.
As members of the Board of Directors for the Community Centre it is contingent on those members to make sure they are representing the best interest of the whole of the Community Centre organization and not only those of the special interest groups. At no point should there be a biased decision on the behalf of a new group of people over the work done by others in the past to bring the Community Centre property to its present usage. That includes the garden groups work on their community garden, the installation of a Daycare facility and the Tennis Courts. Hopefully, we will be able to complete phase 2 and 3 of the Community Centre construction plans. Support for the Pickle Ball group needs to be not only seen to be fair, but, stand as supportable by the whole of this community. There needs to be a review of your constitutional responsibilities, legal agreements already in place and ethical evaluation of decisions made by the new Board of Directors. Above all the Pickle Ball players need to earn the right to have their own courts. That does not take place by destroying the work done by others.
Finally, if this group wants to be able to have their own courts, they need to start the fundraising activities and work out an agreement with the Community Center Board for a piece of the property. However, it must only be allowed to stand on its own deserved merit, and not at the cost of all the work done by others over the years to have what we have all worked hard to establish, support and maintain for community use.
Sincerely, Karen Ramlo
Thank you for the email you provided to members. I am well aware of many of the issues and events in this dispute, and the documents provided additional information.
As a member of the Community Centre Society, I am dismayed at this course of action taken by the directors because I believe that, above all, it neglects the spirit of partnership with which our community has developed so much vital infrastructure. This spirit embodies the values of trust, power sharing, open communication and mutual benefit amongst partners. While I am sure that efforts towards these have been made on both parts, I believe it is the role of the Community Centre Society in particular to steward and nurture the partnerships it has created on its shoulders. In this instance, the partnership breakdown is most obviously due to the recent election of a majority of board members with a clear interest in sublimating their advocacy efforts to access the tennis courts for pickleball. This has implications beyond the pickleball/tennis feud, as our community resources are a delicate ecosystem of relationships and partnerships that rely on good faith and good governance to prosper.
For these reasons, I would like to call for the directors of our society to:
1. Revoke the decision to revamp the Tennis Club and instead honour its status as a long-standing partner in the Community Centre neighbourhood;
2. Declare any conflicts of interest held by individual directors related to the pickleball or any other group, and subsequently act accordingly in all decision-making processes; and
3. Renew their commitment to the spirit of partnership that has been so valuable for the functioning of our various organizations.
I believe that these actions would set the course for a fair and equitable resolution to this matter. Furthermore, I would like to request for the second time, that the minutes from the March 9th board of directors meeting be provided to me.
Respectfully yours, Meaghan Feduck
Important reading for all tennis members:
You have all received a recent letter sent from Catherine McNeill. Here are some thoughts from the tennis side of the street. Members of a small community such as ours carry the hope that citizen’s intentions are noble, kind, and considerate of existing resources. Unfortunately, at times, questions arise that raise doubts and cause us to ask: “What are your true intentions?”
The recent directive from Ms. McNeill contained an overwhelming amount of information in an attempt to cover up the true intentions of the special interest group that she, and some new members of the current Community Centre board, represent. For the past number of years requests/demands have gone out to the Tennis Association for “temporary” access to the facility. Similar demands were made upon the Community Centre Society with a focus on dissolving the agreement between the C.C. Society and the Tennis Association. Again, “temporary” access was denied.
A follow up campaign of aggressively worded emails, directed toward the C.C. board members, was instituted. When the pickle ball group wasn’t getting what it wanted they staged their “Pickle Ball Coup” which later gained notoriety with Ben Mussett’s article in the Capital Daily. This action was so shocking and out of character for this quiet community that it was recently referenced in the L.A.Times! Our “sparsely populated island community” had gained international recognition for all the wrong reasons.
Over the past several years the pickle ball group, despite the continued use of the word temporary, has shown no evidence of fund raising or land acquisition. Catherine McNeill states: “We felt it prudent to explore the feasibility of tennis players and pickle ball players sharing the courts.” That statement not only puts her in a serious conflict of interest but also illustrates the pickle ball group’s true intentions. Even the provincial governing body of pickle ball, Pickle Ball B.C., states that pickle ball and tennis should not be played on the same court! They stress that pickle ball, like other activities, must have its own hub.
This is not about what’s good for the community, this is about pickle ball. This is not about volunteering to serve on the C.C. board in order to continue the successful operation of the facility, this is about pickle ball. The pickle ball group and its leaders already enjoy a “temporary” facility at the school grounds. They feel they are entitled to more. Despite the division this has created in our once harmonious community the priority remains pickle ball.
Finally, a few historical corrections. The Tennis Association has never operated as a “club” and certainly not as a private facility. Membership and its small amount of weekly scheduled playing time is a minor part of what the Association is about. For the past 15 years our mandate has been to operate and maintain a quality tennis facility and to make it publicly accessible for tennis play.
During the fund raising for the facility over 15 years ago there was no involvement from any members of the C.C. Society. Donors to the project were provided with tax receipts under the C.C. Society’s charitable status. Since the opening in May 2008 the facility and its governing association has operated independently and as a separate entity. The pickle ball group and some C.C. board members continue to compare membership numbers:
“We have 80 members, you only have 50”. Again, the facility is not operated exclusively for members. It is operated for the community and all those who spend time here. By promoting their “great” numbers it seems like their group is looking toward a “private club”. It is a sad commentary on the pickle ball group that they spent time “monitoring” court usage. That time could have been better spent working toward a dedicated facility. We ask ourselves, are there special interest groups sitting outside of the Japanese Gardens, St, John’s Point, the Adachi Pavilion, the Ag. Hall grounds? What were the new board members true intentions when they took over the operation of the C.C. facility on November 24th? Noble? Community minded? The M.I.T.A. has operated successfully and independently for 15 years. After November 24th the new board members began challenging all aspects of the Association’s operation. Their purpose and true intent are obvious to all of us in this community.
Thanks for listening and we’ll see you on the tennis courts.
Dear Mr. Keating:
This email is sent in response to your letter addressed to the, Tennis Group Members”.
In your letter you refer to the, “racket courts on our property”. These courts, as is well known on Mayne, are not general purpose “racket courts”, but rather very specifically built tennis courts!
Tennis courts, for which construction funds were raised, from tennis players.
Tennis courts, for which many hours of volunteer labour and M.I.T.A. yearly dues, have been kept in pristine condition.
Tennis courts, which are well used by the M.I.T.A. and the general public.
Tennis courts, for which there is an agreement entered into by M.I.T.A. and the C.C. in good faith, that these tennis courts be maintained at no cost to the C.C. for the use of all tennis players including the general public.
Tennis courts, which your letter makes clear are now being expropriated and re-purposed as “racket courts”.
This email is to express our strong disagreement with the C.C.’s expressed intention of re-purposing the tennis courts.
Respectfully yours, Greg and Anne-Marie Calder
“When you do something best in life, you don’t really want to give that up – and for me it’s tennis.