BC Tree Fruit growers forced meeting over Lake Country plant closure – Kelowna News

BC Tree Fruit growers forced meeting over Lake Country plant closure – Kelowna News

The board of directors and CEO of the BC Tree Fruits Cooperative are in another battle Lake Country shipyard closure and suggested moving A renovated facility in Oliver.

All BC Tree Fruit growers are invited to a special general The meeting has been scheduled for November 22.

BC Tree Fruits CEO and president Warren Sarafinchan says the Nov. 22 meeting will be to deal with motions to remove the existing board and “undo some of the governance changes that were implemented in 2020.”

That could mean halting real estate sales and not moving forward with proposed investments in the Oliver Shipyard and possibly reopening the Lake Country gathering house.

West Kelowna grower and co-op member Parm Saini has been one of the most vocal members of the Lake Country facility’s closure and recent moves by the CEO and management.

“We want transparency, we have lost confidence in the CEO and the board of directors. We want to show the financial numbers to the growers, we feel they have dropped a ball on where the membership is on this issue.”

Sarafinchan says that there have already been multiple meetings, among others, on September 1, which was interrupted by the protests of the members of the cooperative.

It only takes 25 signatures to force a special meeting and Sarafinchan says that number represents a small number of BC Tree Fruits Growers.

“It’s a small percentage of the entire committee. So we have about 220 voting members and we think there are about 34 members against the proposed moves,” Sarafinchan said.

“We certainly ask producers and members with questions to contact us. Because what is critical at this time is that our producers and members have the right information.”

Sarafinchan says the BC Tree Fruits co-op has made huge improvements in the business, “this is another step in the evolution. The decision has been made for the benefit of every member of the co-op, not just one part of the co-op.”

Sarafinchan says he and the board did not take the decision to close the Lake Country plan lightly, and growers will be able to air their views at a meeting later this month.

“This is to be given to all members, whether it’s northern producers or southern producers or Similkameen, all producers have the opportunity to come up with these resolutions and vote.”

“The focus of our board and management has been to increase the returns for our producers as quickly as possible. Since I joined the cooperative in September 2019, I have constantly heard that the growers need the returns we pay, which is basically their income,” added Sarafinchan.

Sarafinchan also says that the cooperative cannot operate two warehouses, “one of the two facilities, unfortunately, is no longer needed. If we were to close the Oliver facility, there would be a similar number of people who no longer had jobs, and we would still be moving fruit.”

Saini, on the other hand, pointed out the decrease in Okanagan apple yield and the fewer and fewer members in the cooperative as problems that need to be solved. When the vineyards were busy with the harvest, the announcement to close was at that time, he says.

He says that he has not been able to receive any response or information about the closure since it was announced.

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