Eliza Olson, pictured here speaking at the 2017 Earth Day pilgrimage in the Delta Nature Reserve, ended her 32-year tenure as president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society during the non-profit’s AGM on Saturday, April 3, 2021. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Eliza Olson, pictured here speaking at the 2017 Earth Day pilgrimage in the Delta Nature Reserve, ended her 32-year tenure as president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society during the non-profit’s AGM on Saturday, April 3, 2021. (Grace Kennedy photo)

UPDATE: Olson out as Burns Bog Conservation Society president

New board aims to renew, strengthen relationships with staff, volunteers, members and stakeholders

(Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Olson had been voted out as president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society. Olson, in fact, did stand for re-election but withdrew her candidacy before the vote could take place. The story has been corrected.)

Eliza Olson is out as president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society (BBCS), after more than three decades in the role.

On Saturday (April 3), over 100 members took part in the society’s first-ever virtual AGM, selecting a new, larger board of directors. Olson was up for re-election but, after making a short speech to the members, withdrew her candidacy before voting could take place, ending her 32-year run as president — from the society’s creation until Saturday’s AGM.

In her resignation speech, Olson said she made the decision not to stand for re-election following a tumultuous last few years in the role , a time that included accusations of bullying and harassment, the board removing Olson as executive director of the society and stripping her of her duties as president, the subsequent attempted removal of five directors by Olson and the three remaining board members, and a successful lawsuit by the expelled directors that saw them reinstated and all actions made by the board after their removal reversed.

”During the last two years I have been threatened verbally and physically. I was barred from the office. Board meetings became a zoo. I have been lied to and about. I was stripped of my duties as the volunteer executive director as well president. I am not the only board member barred from the office or verbally threatened, belittled or attacked,” Olson said.

“These actions led to the June 25 motion [to remove members from the board]. It was a desperate attempt to get the society back to what it is supposed to do — saving Burns Bog and other peatlands. I brought the society back from disaster twice. I promised myself that I would not do it a third time. I am keeping that promise.”

Olson went on to thank all those who had supported her and helped her accomplish her goals, before wishing the incoming board good luck.

Two other incumbent directors — Porsha Von Kish and Richard Brousseau, who were part of the effort to expel the other directors — followed suit, withdrawing their candidacy after making short speeches. The withdrawals of Olson, Von Kish and Brousseau left the remaining 11 candidates running unopposed.

Acclaimed as president was incumbent director, former BBCS vice-president and founding member of the society Derek Zeisman.

“I’m honoured and thrilled to take on the role of president during this exciting new period in the society’s history,” Zeisman said in a press release issued Monday afternoon (April 4).

“I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to the many members who took the time and effort to support our team at the AGM, despite being held over the Easter long weekend.”

Also acclaimed to joining Zeisman on the executive were incumbent vice-president and Surrey resident Sharon Elizabeth (Liz) Walker, incumbent treasurer and Delta resident Edward Brown, incumbent secretary and Langley resident Nancy McLeod. Olson will now sit on the executive as the society’s first-ever past-president.

“I’d like to thank Ms. Olson for her many years of service on behalf of the society,” Zeisman said in a press release. “I know the new board will work hard to build and expand upon her legacy of service.”

Also acclaimed as directors were Beverley Bly, Christopher Durrant, Laurie Haliburton, Pixie (Beverly) Hobby, Dr. Lynne Mackenzie, Angela Rebrec and incumbent Robert Saito. Biographies of all board members will be posted on the society’s website (burnsbog.org) “in the near future.”

“I believe [our new board of directors] represents the strongest, most talented group of directors we’ve ever assembled. I look forward to working closely and co-operatively with them during my time as president.”

New Burns Bog Conservation Society president Derek Zeisman. (Submitted photo)

Zeisman said the new board will take immediate steps to renew and strengthen its internal relationships with staff, volunteers and members, as well as with key external stakeholders including the City of Delta, Metro Vancouver, the B.C. and federal governments, “and many others.”

“I’ve always had such love and respect for Burns Bog and its amazingly complex and diverse ecosystem. The bog truly is ‘the lungs of the Lower Mainland.’ The new board is looking forward to working hard to better protect it. An exciting new chapter in our history lies ahead,” Zeisman said.

Zeisman said the society is now entering a new period of renewal, following a difficult period of legal and financial turmoil, caused by a divided board and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our new board is strong and united. We’re eagerly looking ahead to the future.”

More to come…


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman crosses 176th Street in Cloverdale April 12, 2021. 176th will not host Cloverdale Market Days this year as the popular street fest is just the latest casualty in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale Market Days cancelled again

Organizer says popular street fest will return in 2022

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions against new model; BCSS and its board in favour

Vintage scrapbooks gave way to Instagram and Facebook. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)
COLUMN: Prince Philip just got on with it—to our surprise

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis reflects on the passing Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Most Read