The Island Corridor Foundation said it is “protect(ing) the credibility of the foundation and the personal reputations of the directors and staff” by taking regional district director Julian Fell to court.
Fell, who represents Coombs/Errington on the RDN board, has confirmed he is being asked to show up in the Supreme Court of B.C. for allegedly making defamatory comments about the ICF. Fell has declined to comment about the lawsuit. None of the allegations from any party in the suit has been proven in a court of law.
ICF office administrator Janice Roberts issued a statement to The NEWS saying “Mr. Fell made serious defamatory comments about the ICF, its directors and staff in a July 2013 memo. A retraction and public apology was demanded but none was forthcoming from the director … the board has a responsibility to protect the credibility of the foundation and the personal reputations of the directors and staff.”
The news release said on top of a July 2013 memo, Fell also made “similar defamatory comments” on public radio in October, 2014 which led the ICF “to instruct legal counsel to proceed with the defamation suit.”
The NEWS obtained a copy of Fell’s memo, which alleges the foundation enacted a new operating bylaw that “imposes high levels of secrecy,” thereby stripping regional district and First Nation ICF members of their ownership rights.
“I see (this) as a ‘hijack’ of ownership through a seemingly secret scrapping of the original operations bylaw and the substitution of another that appears to strip the members (RDs and FNs) of their ownership rights,” states the memo.
“I have come to the conclusion that internally the ICF has become a private fiefdom of insiders who are altering the operation hugely, away from the goals of the founders.”
According to Fell’s memo, the new bylaw uses “a committee process which is to be secret, can decide unilaterally who can be a member, merges the function of directors and members, appoints the directors of the members, can add additional members at will, imposes high levels of secrecy … enables concentration of control into a single person, and enables pecuniary benefit to conflicted directors and staff.”
Fell’s memo insists it is not intended to be an attack on the railway.
“Privately and personally I want to see the railway retained and rebuilt,” he states in the memo.
“But I am not supportive of any expenditures that won’t do the job.”
The ICF’s recent legal ambitions come five months after Fell was appointed by the RDN to be the representative on the ICF’s board of directors after Nanaimo Coun. Ted Greves resigned from the position.
However, Fell needs to be approved by the foundation before he becomes an official member.
He is still waiting for approval.
The ICF board is made up of people from the five Vancouver Island regional districts and 14 First Nations that the corridor passes through.