Merkel steps down as CBT chair

Founding member of the Columbia Basin Trust board decides to retire after almost 20 years

  • Jan. 11, 2013 1:00 p.m.
Columbia Basin Trust’s Board. Back row (left to right): Paul Peterson; Denise Birdstone; Garry Merkel

Columbia Basin Trust’s Board. Back row (left to right): Paul Peterson; Denise Birdstone; Garry Merkel

Carolyn Grant

Kimberley Daily Bulletin

Kimberley’s Garry Merkel has announced he is stepping down from his active role as Chair of the Columbia Basin Trust.

Merkel has been involved with the Columbia Basin Trust since its inception, being part of the committee which negotiated with the province for the establishment of the Trust, and then serving as a founding member of the Board. He served as Vice-Chair from 1995 to 2006, then Chair from 2006 to 2012.

Replacing Merkel as Chair will be Greg Deck, also newly appointed as Mayor of the Jumbo Resort Municipality.

Merkel says he leaves the CBT confident that it’s in good hands.

“It’s been almost 20 years and it’s time to move on,” he said. “I might have stayed another year to help with the transition, but if you help build something and you can’t let go, you really haven’t succeeded.

“But you don’t really ever leave the Trust. It’s part of all our lives.”

Merkel says the CBT has been involved in a lot of projects over the years, which he has been very proud of.

“The St. Eugene was a good one, but I wasn’t too involved in that because I work with the Ktunaxa as well. I don’t know if it’s any one project that stands out, but generally the biggest accomplishment is building a strong sense of community and culture right through the Basin.

“We do so many things on a Basin level. We’ve built a really strong social fabric. It’s been instrumental in helping people being grounded in where they live, understanding the land and ourselves a lot better.”

Merkel says the word ‘Basin’ wasn’t even part of the vocabulary in this area 20 years ago.

“It was a hard word to say. Now it’s part of everybody’s vocabulary — the way we think, the way we work.”

Merkel has no doubt the team at the Trust will continue that good work with Greg Deck as Chair and Laurie Page as Vice-Chair. New to the Board this year is Rick Jensen from Cranbrook, President and CEO of Panorama Mountain Village, the Board Chair of New Dawn Developments, a director of New Dawn Restorations and President of the Canadian Institute of Excellence.

“Greg helped found CBT and throughout the years has provided expert guidance and leadership to CBT, as well as to other local governments and organizations,” said Merkel. “In Laurie’s year with us, she has provided significant direction to the Board and has stood out through her outstanding efforts as a community volunteer.

“Rick is the only new person coming on board this year. He is really solid and I am thrilled he’s joining the Board.”

Merkel feels Jensen brings a needed development, business side to the board.

“On behalf of CBT’s Board and staff, I would like to thank Garry and acknowledge his many contributions; his input and leadership over the course of 18 years has been invaluable,” said Deck, CBT’s new Board Chair. “Garry’s impact on CBT — and through CBT, on the Columbia Basin — cannot be overemphasized.”

Other Board members include Denise Birdstone (Ktunaxa Nation Council), Wendy Booth (Fairmont Hot Springs), Kim Deane (Rossland), Gord DeRosa (Trail), Cindy Gallinger (Elkford), Am Naqvi (Nelson), Andru McCracken (Valemount), Paul Peterson (Burton) and David Raven (Revelstoke).