Back to the Future, Back to Basics

Two weeks ago if you had told me I would be sitting here banging out a message as the president of CAMRA BC I would have told you that you were crazy.

I had my exit planned from the president’s seat from the Powell River branch and was fully expecting to ride off into the sunset, having put in my time for the society in an official capacity.

But on Feb 10th, with just hours left until the close of the nomination period for the BC Executive elections, there was not one nomination for the four seats up for grabs.

I was loathe to see years of blood sweat and tears by those who worked tirelessly to found and guide CAMRA BC, in years gone by, potentially go down the drain and was not going to sit by and watch the society dissolve before my eyes.

That may sound dramatic, but, quite seriously, it could have come to that with no one at the helm to steer the society and look after the finances.

After a flurry of e-mails and texts, former branch presidents Martin Williams (Vancouver, 2009-2010) and Glen Stusek (Victoria, 2004-2017) and myself (Vancouver, 2011-2013, Powell River, 2013-2017) decided to give one more year of executive service to CAMRA BC.

Still short a treasurer, we were uncertain as to what to do, but Glen contacted one of the Victoria members, Dave Garton, who has a strong passion for craft beer and a more than solid financial background, and the 2017 CAMRA BC Executive was born.

It was not an easy decision for all of us, as Glen, like me, had thought he had made the great escape after 13 years as the Victoria president and Martin had been out of a CAMRA executive seat for over five years.

And Dave, poor Dave, has no idea what he is in for but is up for the challenge.

With over 20 years of presidential experience at the branch level, this 2017 executive is very connected to the history and roots of CAMRA yet forward looking and willing to think outside the box. This executive is well balanced. Martin and I are strong in the advocacy department, with me being more of the bulldog and Martin more cerebral in his approach but equally as fierce. Glen is extremely detail oriented, and offers a very sober-second-thought perspective on things and balances my  more bombastic style by being a man of few words. But when Glen speaks, he is almost always on point and I always listen.

Actually, same goes for Martin. When he speaks, I listen.

I know from my perspective, having Martin and Glen as support was the sole reason I stepped the president’s role.

I have high hopes that we can provide strong leadership and focus in order to guide the society back to its purpose of being a consumer advocacy group. We need to strive to fulfill our mandate of championing the cause of the craft beer consumer in BC. I feel over the past few years CAMRA BC  has drifted back towards being more of a craft beer social club, that exists to organize events and offer discounts, than a consumer advocacy group, this despite the fact there are a handful of very enthusiastic advocates doing their best at the local level. They need support and they need it from the provincial branch, the branch elected to oversee CAMRA BC.

Although discounts and events have a place in the CAMRA experience, they should never be the main focus of the society and members need to know that when they join, they are joining the cause of supporting the rights of craft beer consumers in BC.  The discounts should not even be the second priority as supporting craft beer education and homebrewing also rank ahead in my opinion.

From my perspective, the main drift away from advocacy is the fear of offending those offering CAMRA discounts and the fact that many members, when they join CAMRA BC at the branch level, do not really understand what CAMRA BC is about or why the society was founded.

When advocating on behalf of the consumer, CAMRA BC, at times, will bump heads with the craft beer and hospitality industries, which can result in friction and yes, discontinued discounts at some establishments. At times our advocacy will bring us closer to these same people when we have common goals.

But what has to be remembered is that what is good for the craft beer and hospitality industries is not always good for the consumer.

Think about the tight reign of control on where growlers can be filled (tasting rooms only) and serving size issues. What benefits us, as consumers, is not what benefits those above mentioned industries.

The second reason for the shift away from CAMRA BC’s main purpose is general membership apathy. We only have to look at the lack of nominations for the BC Executive elections and the fact that only about 25 members bothered to show up at the BC AGM, Feb 19th, even though it was purposely held in the Lower Mainland at Yellow Dog Brewery, right next to the Skytrain system, with hopes that there would be a good turonout from the 1000+ members living in the vicinity.  It was simply pathetic and disappointing turnout and a sure sign that there is significant member disengagement towards what the society is all about.

It will be a bit of a balancing act, shifting focus from good times and discounts while trying to increase member engagement but we will do what we can with the resources we have. We have to get CAMRA BC back into the spotlight, attract members who understand what CAMRA is about and who are willing to support campaigns and their local and provincial executives.

It is a tall order, but we, as the 2017 CAMRA BC Executive are dedicated to give it a go. It is my hope that your new executive will be one that is remembered for the right reasons and one who shed light on just what the provincial executive is supposed to do and gives focus to the society as a whole while allowing the local branches to operate independently within the framework established by CAMRA BC.

If any members have any questions, I can be reached at pres@www.camrabc.ca.

 

cheers

Paddy Treavor

President of the Campaign for Real Ale Society of British Columbia

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Presidential Farewell – And the Future

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 2016 CAMRA BC Executive has wrapped up and has prepared to transition for the incoming 2017 Executive board. What a year it’s been!

First: after a few years being involved with CAMRA in multiple roles, it is time for me to look to the future and pursue my career aspirations within the industry and outside of the organization. This means that this is the eve of the last day of my term as President of CAMRA BC.
I’ve decided not to run again for a second year as the head of our organization in order to take the next steps in my career, both in the craft beer and political sectors. Being a member of the BC Executive is an important – and time consuming – labour of love; one that I feel I cannot commit the appropriate amount of time to for another year that it (and you) deserve. While this decision comes from a place of sobering and honest sadness, I feel that it is for the right reasons that I complete my term on a high note and make room for the future BC board to take the wheel and steer the organization towards the future.

In the last year, we’ve seen our BC craft beer ecosystem evolve and manifest into a booming tour de force in its’ own right: we have well-developed and high quality beers being released on a regular basis, world class beers that compete against legendary recipes found elsewhere, and continued representation of imported beers finding their way to our shelves. Legal frameworks around homebrew competitions and events, as well as beer gardens have seen meaningful progress. These are great things, and as a consumer, being overwhelmed and unable to keep up with constant and multiple top-tier releases has become a problem that most of us are entirely okay with having.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t any other challenges to overcome, however. There are still glaring and abhorrent issues with many of our provincial laws around ABV taxation, protection for macro beer conglomerates being permitted by the Province of British Columbia, the BC LDB, and by extension the BC Craft Brewers Guild to sabotage retail sales of local craft beer at private liquor stores, and a wholesale pricing platform touted to “level the playing field” that effectively destroys the profit margins that allow private liquor stores to compete as a small business in our province.

CAMRA BC, as a 29 year old entity, has faced something of an identity crisis in the last few years: in many ways, pure advocacy has taken a backseat to being a de facto “beer club”, with many members interested purely in things like events and member benefits instead of our mission statement. While promoting, educating and enjoying are all core tenets of our Society, the fourth – and perhaps, most important – tenet has always been “advocating” on behalf of consumers. I believe we haven’t pushed this as hard as we could (or should).

2017 will serve as the year that defines the future of our organization. If advocacy does not fully become the core focus of our efforts, we will irreparably compromise our effectiveness as a champion of change and fairness. This is going to take drastic changes in the way we operate both internally and externally. It involves all branches rallying their constituents and consistently – and aggressively – driving the advocacy mandates that are developed and directed by the CAMRA BC board. We have members in all areas of British Columbia – some of which happen to reside in Minister Coralee Oakes’ own riding – that can demand to meet with their Members of Parliament and have their voices heard. I firmly believe CAMRA would do well do pursue this in a meaningful way.

Since assuming the role of President early in 2016, I have abided by a two-year plan I’d built out at the time of my introduction. Year One has been about getting our house in order internally, establishing / rebuilding key relationships, and identifying major advocacy campaign opportunities.

Year Two is upon us, and, if we follow this plan, it means launching coordinated and public campaigns against the parties responsible for hindering (and in some cases, outright preventing) a balanced and fair craft beer landscape in British Columbia, working from research conducted in 2016.

If there is one truly revelatory thing I have realized in the last two years, it is this: “consumer advocacy” is not something to be segregated into its’ own subsection. In fact, the type of advocacy that fights on behalf of licensees, retailers, and brewers impacts consumers whether directly or indirectly. I would hope that the future CAMRA BC board recognizes this and reconsiders what defines our mandate by way of officially expanding our focus beyond the consumer and working with these parties to enrich our beer industry. Ultimately, what is good for brewers is good for consumers. What helps private liquors stores to innovate and operate is good for consumers. We oughtn’t ignore these. There are other groups that focus on these individual interests, and perhaps that was at some point a useful model. It certainly isn’t anymore: these groups – CAMRA BC included – stand to benefit immensely by the collaboration and alignment of all of these individual entities. Current fragmentation of these interests hinders progress for *all* of us.

I want to thank the 2016 CAMRA BC and branch Executive teams for their incredibly hard work and commitment to something we all feel very strongly about. At the end of the day, this is a non-profit, 100% volunteer-run organization that asks a great deal of its’ leadership in order to operate. It is not lost on me the amount of time and energy you’ve invested in making a difference. Know that I am deeply grateful.

Going forward, I will be advocating as a private citizen. This means I will be able to more directly work with breweries, retailers and other parties to effect change in different and more concentrated ways. Expect to hear more about this via social media and news outlets in the near future.

As our nominations deadline came to a close with four new candidates being the only nominations received, these individuals will be elected by acclimation at the AGM:

President: Paddy Treavor
Vice President: Martin Williams
Secretary: Glen Stusek
Treasurer: Dave Garton

Some of you may recognize these names. This team represents an enormous trove of experience and history within our community. I am confident that if anyone can course-correct our organization and drive honest-to-goodness change, it is this incoming team.

Onward and upward, as goes the adage. It has been my honour and privilege to serve as your President in the last year. I look forward to working towards a bright future for craft beer in British Columbia. Get involved, show your support and make your voice heard.

We’re in this together.

Yours,

Jeremy  Noonan
President
CAMRA BC

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CAMRA BC AGM 2017 and Call for Nominations

Dear CAMRA BC Members,

It’s that time of year again! This communication serves as 30 day notice of the upcoming 2017 CAMRA BC AGM.

The AGM will be held on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at Yellow Dog Brewing  (1-2817 Murray St, Port Moody BC) from 10:00am to 12:00pm.

Members in good standing of any CAMRA BC branch can vote by show of hands if they are present at the meeting. Beginning this year, members can also vote by way of email following the call for nominations deadline.

Nominations will be open as of today, January 20 and must be received no later than 11:59pm PSTon Friday, February 10, 2017. Nominees will be posted immediately at the end of the call for nomination period. Votes by way of email will be accepted at that time through to 11:59pm PST on Friday, February 17.

Note that each member in good standing is entitled to one vote per membership ID. Additional votes attached to a membership ID will not be counted.

After the email voting period has concluded, we will tally these votes and include them in the counting of in-person votes during the AGM.

Nominations (and votes, after February 10, 2017) should be sent to nominations@www.camrabc.ca. The following board positions are now open for nominees:

President
Vice President
Treasurer
Secretary

Those nominated unopposed will be elected by acclamation at the time of the AGM.

If you have any questions regarding the AGM, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or any other member of the CAMRA BC board.

Regards,

Jeremy Noonan
President – CAMRA BC
president@www.camrabc.ca

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