Kelowna Yacht Club conflict looks to be heading to court - InfoNews

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Kelowna Yacht Club conflict looks to be heading to court

Image Credit: Michael Hintringer
May 09, 2019 - 2:04 PM

KELOWNA - If you haven’t paid the $3,500 initiation fee to join the Kelowna Yacht Club, an ongoing legal dispute might give you a peek at some preoccupations of the city’s premier social group — complaints about the quality of food, governance, sniping, bruised reputations and even how to complain.

Marc Whittemore, a local lawyer and prominent member of the downtown waterfront club, filed suit against the organization in February claiming damages for how his complaints have been treated, in particular by Commodore Don McEachern.

According to his statement of claim, Whittemore aired his concerns on a group forum about how officers are elected, how the organization is run and how catering is done. Specifically, he said food quality was “compromised” or at times nonexistent because the leadership opted to increase revenue by catering to outsiders as a source of revenue instead of recruiting new members.

He also questioned why several members of the board — Fleet and Staff Captains — were elected by small groups, not by members as a whole at the Annual General Meeting. He called the election "absurd" and “a terrible weakness” in the bylaws and argues the Yacht Club could become more than a “small parochial boating club.”

A particularly contentious point seems to be Whittemore saying the club’s general manager “slashed staff at Banff springs regularly.”
That triggered an October 2018 letter from the Commodore at the time, Don McEachern.

In his filing, Whittemore says the Commodore’s letter accused him of “making comments which were slanderous of the Club and its Executive Director, and which were of a harassing nature, abusive, offensive, demeaning or vexatious.”

Whittemore includes the wording of the letter in his filing. It says Whittemore’s comments “appear to be slanderous.” It outlines the club’s commitment to creating an harassment-free environment, without actually accusing him of harassment.

The definition says harassment includes behaviors that are “abusive, offensive, demeaning or vexatious.”

It appears from the Yacht Club’s response, filed last month, a resolution is not forthcoming. The club disputed 61 of 64 ‘facts’ Whittemore claimed.

The Yacht Club says it is following its bylaws and holding elections properly, said the catering business follows club policy and offers a comparable level of quality and variety of food in the winter versus the summer.
Both sides have called on the other to apologize.

Whittemore claims he suffered “embarrassment, humiliation and distress,” that his reputation is tarnished and he has suffered “economic and mental distress.”

He calls for various damages and declarations to repair his reputation, calls for new elections and for the club to be “enjoined” from conducting business until after those elections are held.

The parties have now been asked to provide a list of documents to be used at trial.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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