Submitted                                Without a facilities manager it’s uncertain who will open the pool in Keremeos this year.

Submitted Without a facilities manager it’s uncertain who will open the pool in Keremeos this year.

Shakeup at the Similkameen rec centre

The facility manager resigned Monday, previously four members of the volunteer commission resigned

A major overhaul in Lower Similkameen recreation has occurred in the last six weeks with four rec commission members resigning and the facility manager Karl Donoghue quitting his job effective immediately 0n Monday.

Donoghue was the facilities manager at the rec centre and the pool for the last 27 years while the other members of the rec commission who resigned served for varying lengths – from a few years to 17 years.

Charlene Cowling, former chair of the rec commission said her resignation is a direct result of an in-camera meeting at the end of February where she feels staff of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, including CAO Bill Newell and community services manager Mark Woods, pressured members to vote in favour of terminating Donoghue in a year’s time essentially forcing him into retirement. She said members feel “railroaded” from the previous succession course, which would see Donoghue mentor a young student staff member who is currently in university to take over in three years time.

“I resigned because the regional district took over a meeting. They had no respect for our members on the commission. Members had no knowledge that this (in-camera) was going to even happen,” she said.

Cowling said Donoghue, who was the secretary of the rec commission, was on vacation at the time of the meeting. In his absence, she was informed other RDOS staff would attend and create the agenda. She received a copy, but the agenda was not circulated to the rest of the commission as usual.

Cowling said she hoped to hold off on voting on Donoghue’s termination until the next meeting when members Marnie Todd, who was headed back from the Olympics, making a stop to see her daughter ski in Calgary, and Marie Marven, who had a family commitment, could be in attendance.

She said she was urged to take a vote by RDOS staff. Cowling refused to vote on the motion as she felt the two who were not present had a right to at least be informed this was being discussed before a vote.

The motion carried with the other members voting in favour, however Cowling says several of them came up to her afterwards asking for clarification on the matter.

“Several of them are new to the commission. I had people coming up to me after and at the next meeting and they didn’t understand what they had done,” she said. “All I could say is that it was too late. The vote had been taken. I couldn’t do anything.”

Cowling said discussions about Donoghue’s employment started about a year prior when RDOS staff attended a different closed meeting asking what the commission would like to do differently in regards to programming.

At that time Cowling said the commission all said they supported Donoghue and were happy with the programming available at the rec centre, which includes working closely with the schools for skating and swimming, free community skates, public swims, racketball programming, and a thriving bowling league.

She claims Donoghue’s age, he is in his 70s, was brought up several times.

“I told them that was not right to talk about,” she said.

When contacted by the Review, RDOS CAO Newell said he couldn’t talk about what happened in the in-camera session.

He said he did not prepare the agenda for the meeting but that during the meeting several RDOS recreation staff were in attendance to talk about a grant received to improve rec programming and an in-camera session was held.

Newell said the rec commission is an advisory body and does not make decisions on staffing but rather recommendations to regional directors. They do not have the ability to hire or fire staff.

When asked if age was a factor in hiring or firing of RDOS employees Newell said, “No. Karl was doing a good job there for us.”

Todd, who’s served 17 years on the rec commission, was the first to resign after the in-camera meeting. She told the Review if she had known that the commission was voting on the succession plan at the rec centre and Donoghue’s role in it, she would have made sure she was at the meeting.

“I wasn’t given an agenda. I’ve been part of this commission for 17 years and this is the first time this has happened and the minutes are usually sent out within days, if not within the same week, and although I’ve asked for them, I still have not received them, of course, now that I am not member they do not have to provide them to me.”

George Bush, director for Area B, said the in-camera meeting was related to Donoghue’s employment and coming up with a succession plan.

Bush said the idea of a one-year termination was not because of Donoghue’s age but rather making a change at the rec centre to focus on programming.

“You have to come to an end date sometime that’s why a year from now,” he said. “It’s not because of Karl not doing a great job because he’s doing a great job as a facilitator.”

Bush said he’s heard from the community that there’s a keen interest in adding more programming and that’s the direction the rec centre and pool needs to go.

He categorized the agenda issue as a mixup as RDOS staff prepared the agenda and forwarded it to Cowling thinking she would forward to commission members.

Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer said he could not comment on what occurred in the closed door meeting or staffing issues, but said he and the other Lower Similkameen directors would hear more on Thursday.

“Certainly no one wanted him to resign effective immediately,” he said.

The RDOS is currently advertising for new recreation commission members and realigning the rec centre. The Review had not heard by press time how things will be managed in the interim before a new facilities manager could be hired. Check for updates on this story and more.

To report a typo, email:


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

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Fiction writing contest
A call to writers in the Okanagan

UBCO holds annual fiction writing contest

Vaccine rollout is focused on health care workers first, especially those dealing with long-term care facilities. (Nathan Denette - Canadian Press)
General public shouldn’t expect vaccines until fall: Interior Health

Interior Health focused on vaccinating long-term and first-line care workers

A mother hold hands with her daughter while sharing about her struggles with addiction during Overdose Awareness Day. (Jesse Major/Black Press file)
Overdose and suicide support group starts in Penticton

Penticton was one of the province’s communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis in 2020

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has given first reading to its 2021 budget. (RDOS image)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen budget to rise by 2.8 per cent

Impact of budget increase will not be the same in all communities or electoral areas

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Kevin Lee Barrett is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. (Facebook)
Court hears of victim’s injuries in West Kelowna attempted murder trial

Two-week-long trial continues for Kevin Barrett, accused of trying to kill mother in West Kelowna

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

Jan. 21 marks the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, according to some. (Black Press Media file photo)
The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century is upon us

Milestone won’t be back for another 100 years

McBain Insurance in Summerland gave a donation of $816 to Angus Place. The money will go towards a new floor in the bathing room in the seniors care facility. From left are Chris Emmons of McBain Insurance, Stacey Schieman of McBain Insurance and Charmaine Kramer of Parkdale Place Housing Society. (Contributed)
Donation to help with bathing room work at Summerland seniors facility

Earlier contribution will be used to replace aging tub at Angus Place

The steel mills in the Hamilton waterfront harbour are shown in Hamilton, Ont., on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Dyer: Stay the course on Carbon pricing

Kristy Dyer has a background in art and physics and consulted for Silicon Valley

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Voting is the number one, bare minimum way to have your voice heard by government. (File photo)
Jocelyn’s Jottings: Want to make change? Here are some suggestions

As a citizen you have a voice, you just have to know who to talk to

Most Read