Getting messy when people selected to serve on an agency board need governance and integrity advice.

By Pepper Parr

April 12th, 2024



It started as a question.

Regarding agencies board and commissions and Integrity Commissioner advice? Would Counsellor Bentivegna like to speak to his motion?

Councillor Angelo Bentivegna gets caught up in a Performing Arts governance problem – mostly because he wasn’t kept informed on some of the decisions being made.

I’m not sure. Do I need to read it? No, I don’t need to but I would like to speak briefly about it. I guess learning from experience that sometimes when we’re on boards or different elements that we’re exposed to and not intentionally, you know, we vote on certain issues and again, with all good intentions, and sometimes we get to a situation where there’s an unintended consequences that occurs when we get to this horseshoe (Council Chamber) in terms of having to make a decision or a vote, whether it’s financial or otherwise.

All I’m asking here is for some clarity for us through the Integrity Commissioner so that the governance of what we’re doing is being properly  followed.  I guess that’s really what I’m hoping  – that we’re going to get support for this and I want to thank staff for helping me out on this and putting us on the right path.

Emilie Cote, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture represents the City on the Performing Arts Board.

Mayor Meed Ward commented: I really support the work that you’ve done Angelo to bring this forward. This has been an issue that has vexed us since, I started in 2010. And my only question would be, and maybe this is already contemplated, would be really for you, Emily, around would there be value in engaging a governance and independent governance person as well on these matters? I know some of the advice I’ve gotten from governance folks is very helpful. It is different than Integrity Commissioner – both are important. So it’s not an either or here and wondering if that is something that you will consult in and bringing back recommendations.

Cote responds:  Absolutely. So that’s the intent, to kind of marry the two together to get some advice from a governance expert and then have the Integrity Commissioner also speak to some of those recommendations.

They then voted on the Motion memorandum regarding agencies boards and commissions and Integrity Commissioner advice. The Motion was in the Agenda but never displayed during the meeting.

All those in favour and any opposed?  And that carries.


What in heaven’s name were they talking about?

There was a point at which Councillor Bentivegna represented the City on the Performing Arts Board.  His term was over and he was replaced by Emilie Cote who is the Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture.

This is the first time we recall a Staff member replacing an elected person on the Performing Arts Board.

The issue Cote had to deal with was the shake up taking place at Performing Arts where, for a period of time it didn’t appear that the organization had a functioning board.

Performing Arts Executive Director Tammy Fox

Performing Arts Executive Director Tammy Fox had explained to Council in November just what she was having to deal with.

Given that the city puts a significant amount of money into BPAC they wanted to get to the bottom of the issue and ordered that an independent consult be brought in, at BPAC expense, to put forward a series of recommendations.

That happened.

It was a thorough Governance Review that Council accepted and wanted to see put in place. This was all done on the QT.  No public involvement.

Then there was a call for new directors that closed February 16th.  No word yet on how that is working out.

Biggest free event festival in the country.

Executive Director Tammy Fox is busy making the Sound of Music part of the Performing Arts Centre even though there is no mention of that happening in the current Strategic Plan.

A decision to have the Performing Arts Centre as the presenter of the Sound of Music (SoM) and to invest some cash into the event is not small potatoes.

There are many really good reasons for aligning the SoM with the Performing Arts organization.  The biggest one being that the BPAC stages are not used all that much during the June SoM events.  Makes all the sense in the world to bring the two closer together.

Surely someone did a thorough risk analysis and ask all those pesky cost benefit questions.

Sound of Music Chair Steve Cusson with BPAC Executive Director Tammy Fox who is expected to make the SoM event an even bigger success

The Strategic Plan in place currently covers a period that ended in 2023.    The words Sound of Music don’t event appear in the current document.

One of the more immediate benefits is that Tammy Fox, the BPAC Executive Director knows the entertainment business better than anyone else in this city.  She is on a first name basis with anyone that matters.

Fox is reported to have said on November 16th, 2023 that substantial resources have been invested in updating the strategic plan, including the board’s best practices.

There is a full Board in place but there are no co-ordinates to reach any of them.

That is not a healthy situation – the people who make the decisions have to be available if transparency is to have any meaning.

Don’t blame this on the Executive Director – she has to work in what must be an awkward situation – not that she is ever going to say that.


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1 comment to Getting messy when people selected to serve on an agency board need governance and integrity advice.

  • Grahame

    What exactly does BPAC plan to do or for the Sound of Music.

    Editor’s note: BPAC is now The Presenter.
    Please don’t ask me what a Presenter is