Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club members have voted against a proposal to donate property to the City of Surrey.
The proposal was brought forward by a membership motion to help alleviate some of the financial difficulties faced by the club. The land transfer would have included a hatchery, gun and archery range and more.
The March 21 vote required a two-thirds majority to pass. Club vice-president Ron Meadley told Peace Arch News that while the majority voted in favour of the transfer on March 21, the club did not meet the two-thirds threshold. Meadley said the club was not at this time releasing the result of the final vote. In total, 129 club members weighed in.
Meadley offered a brief statement to PAN, saying the decision fell short.
“That is about it because we don’t know at this stage much more than that. The business challenge continues to grow and to be a growing concern,” Meadley said.
Asked for his reaction, Meadley said he was disappointed with the outcome.
“We thought it was a really good proposed agreement and the agreement came as a result of a membership motion to pursue interest from the City of Surrey. That’s what the proposed agreement represented,” Meadley said.
As for the future of the club, Meadley said that remains to be sorted out.
“We have no mandate to do anything at this point other than lots of suggestions of what to do. That’s where it is at this moment.”
The fish and game club has been stewards of the land, located at 1284 184 St., since the late 1970s.
Club president Bob Donnelly told PAN last week that the financial challenges faced by the club include operating costs, reduced revenue and a backlog of repairs that are beyond the ability of the club to finance.
“We would all like things to continue as they have over the past 65 years but the reality is the cost of maintaining our extensive facilities and the 29 acre property is beyond our capacity,” Donnelly said by email. “Our heart says one thing but our head says another.”
PAN was first contacted last fall by members concerned, among other things, about the impact to longtime user groups, and that the step to donate was being pushed through. They also claim that not enough consultation was done, and that other alternatives presented by members were dismissed. None, however, wished to speak publicly.
The piece of property has been important not only to the club, but to the community as a whole.
In a 2012 interview with PAN, then-club hatchery manager Bob Oswald said most of the founding members were anglers concerned about the fish stocks of the local Little Campbell River. The club was founded in 1956 with the first meeting held in the old White Rock Hotel.
Concerned that decades of industrial gravel extraction on the banks of the Little Campbell was ruining the river, the group decided to take action, framing a mandate to become stewards and spokespeople for the natural places of the watershed while participating in the sport they loved.
In the 2012 article, PAN shared writings by a former club president, the late Ruth Kendall, who had compiled a history of the club.
“The club always organized events for fun and recreation, too. We held salmon derbies and steelhead derbies in our own river for both the seniors and the juniors. We took to the interior hills at the opening of grouse season. We started annual camp-outs with the juniors that provided some interesting challenges for their senior advisors.”
Meadley said he was delighted to know that the lands are cherished not only by club members, but others in the community.
“That’s the sense that we get and we felt that for years. That’s been fed back to us time and time again and we’re delighted with that feedback because that was one of the visions held by the club, from the original founding members, going way back,” Meadley said.