By Doug Whiteside
GDTA By-Laws Changes
Despite COVID-19, 2020 has been a busy and productive year. In addition to obtaining charitable status and opening the High Rock Trail, the Board has spent a significant amount of time reviewing the GDTA’s administrative challenges. Two key areas were examined:
- The GDTA’s organizational structure
- The Board’s workload
The Board is a group of highly motivated and dedicated individuals who contribute a significant amount of time to the Association’s affairs. However, there is not enough person-power to tackle what needs to be done. To address this workload challenge, at this year’s Annual General Meeting the Board presented three motions to change our By-Laws and Articles of Continuance (a document that must be filed with the Government). These motions recommended that the Board be allowed to temporarily fill vacant Board positions between Annual General Meetings, increase the maximum number of Directors from eleven to thirteen, and if necessary, temporarily add additional Board members. All three motions were passed.
One additional By-Laws motion was also presented. As mentioned, the Board had spent a significant amount of time examining and documenting the GDTA’s organizational structure. To provide greater clarity and improved governance, a new draft policy outlining the Board’s roles and responsibilities, and draft Terms of Reference for the GDTA’s core committees, have been developed. These Terms of Reference outline the duties for each committee. Several years ago, the existing By-Laws were created but now do not reflect how the Association conducts business. This approved motion changes the By-Laws to align them with our current structure. It also mandates that the Board must document and publish documents describing how the GDTA will function. The Board believes that this change will provide the general membership greater insight into the Association’s affairs and help potential volunteers identify opportunities for involvement in our great organization. Once finalized, these documents will be available online.
GDTA Board Members
At every AGM, we thank departing Board members for their contributions, re-elect members who desire to serve another three-year term, and elect and welcome new Board members.
This year we welcome six new Board members. Four of these members were added to fill four vacant seats. Two were added to fill the newly created seats that resulted from changes to the GDTA’s Articles of Continuance, increasing the maximum Board size from eleven to thirteen.
This year we also thank Kathy Plachta, the GDTA’s Co-Treasurer, for her service. Kathy, over many years, has contributed significantly in countless ways to the success of the GDTA. Most significant were her contributions to establishing the Association’s financial systems and managing its finances and memberships. Kathy is leaving to be more involved with her growing family. We will miss her wise counsel.
Gina Van Haren, New Director
When not at work, Gina can be found hiking on the trails in the nearby Rockies, visiting the family’s farm, out at a lake, getting out for a run, dreaming up new adventures, working on some craft, or trying new recipes. Together with her mom and sister, Gina has completed about 900 km of the GDT. Gina finished an undergraduate accounting degree in Ontario and is now working in an Airdrie public accounting office. She recently obtained her CPA designation and is keen to make good use of her education and work experience on the GDTA Board.
Ben Millen, New Director
Since learning of the GDT’s existence, Ben has spent time hiking sections of the trail culminating in a thru-hike of the GDT this summer (2020). Perhaps predictably, having spent so much time on the trail and experiencing it in its entirety, Ben developed an interest in its preservation, maintenance, and further development. Involvement with the GDTA seemed for Ben an almost necessary step. Ben teaches Mechanical Engineering at SAIT and is involved in the design of medical devices and consumer products. Ben has also been involved in several non-profit boards, including The New Gallery, John Snow House, The Calgary Rowing Club and Cross Country Alberta.
Josh Edwards, New Director
Josh is a father, husband, teammate, and businessperson who has been an active outdoorsman with many successful multiday backcountry trips, including a 7-day volunteer vacation with the Pacific Crest Trail, a summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, a 6–day trek of the West Coast Trail and countless weekend adventures between Waterton Lakes National Park and Jasper. Josh brings over 20 years of construction experience and business leadership to the GDTA. Josh has also been the United Way of Central Alberta’s past chair, the clubhouse manager for the Red Deer Titans Rugby Club and a participant in the provincial Construction Association.
Donna Rutherford, Ex-officio Member, Now New Director
During the past 11 months, Donna has been the Board Secretary and an incredibly good one. Donna works for Alberta Health Services doing program evaluation and quality improvement in their addiction and mental health services. She is passionate about backpacking and happy that she tripled her usual number of backpacking days this summer. Donna was a founding member of Alberta’s first cohousing community, loves gardening and has hopes of volunteering upon retirement, in urban farming initiatives around Calgary. As GDTA Secretary, Donna has been actively examining ways of improving the GDTA’s document management system. In the future, she wants to use her performance measurement skills in the Board’s development and tracking of the GDTA’s strategic plan performance metrics.
Peter Claghorn, Ex-officio Member, Now New Director
Peter first heard of the GDTA at a Banff Film Festival and has not yet hiked a single kilometre of the trail. Peter has, over this past year, been chairing Board meetings as Vice-Chair of the Board and a member of the Organizational Excellence Committee and the Trail Building & Maintenance Committee, bringing to the GDTA his education, a Masters in Organization Development and his business expertise in management consulting. Despite not having hiked the GDT, Peter is well acquainted with the outdoors, working with Outward Bound, and eventually, leading Enviros Wilderness School as Executive Director for 15 years.
Doug Whiteside, Ex-officio Member, Now New Director
After hiking the GDT from Banff to Jasper in 2016, Doug has volunteered as a trail builder and provided administrative and organizational development expertise. Over the past year, Doug has chaired the Organizational Excellence Committee and acted as Vice-President. Now retired, Doug, as an executive with a local resource company, was responsible for program and project management, business development and research. He has participated on industry boards and committees, including a founding participant of the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA). Recently, Doug hiked the GDT with his daughter, Kate, from the US border to Banff, and they were one of the first backpackers to walk the GDTA’s newly opened High Rock Trail.