The Friends of the Ornamental Gardens has elected a new board of directors, following a special meeting on Friday.
Board elections are normally held in March, with directors elected for two-year terms. Half of the members are elected each year.
The special election on Friday was held as a result of differences of opinion of members of the society over how to respond to financial difficulties.
“The gardens is always in a precarious financial position because of our special status,” said Don Gayton, a former board member who was elected to the new board.
The limitation comes because the gardens, at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, are on federal land.
“Many years ago Agriculture Canada offloaded responsibility for the gardens to Friends of the Gardens, but they have placed severe constraints on our ability to fundraise, because the gardens sit on federal land.” He added that the gardens society has financial commitments to its part-time staff.
The gardens society is also moving to a more contemporary philosophy, he said.
There are donation boxes at the gardens, with a suggested donation of $5 per person, but when a traffic counter was installed, the society learned it receives less than $1 per vehicle through these boxes.
The gardens is moving away from a traditional British garden model.
“We are slowly moving a classical, British-empire style garden into the new realities of water conservation, fewer chemical inputs and a more regionally appropriate selection of plantings,” said George Lerchs, a new member of the board. “And we will continue to work with Agriculture Canada and various funding agencies to maintain the Gardens as a wonderful Summerland tourist destination, as well as a learning resource.”
The new board consists of Aaron Anderson as chair, Bev Krieger as secretary and Lerchs as treasurer, together with Gayton, Daniel Mosquin and Gwen Steele.
Gayton served on the board from 2009 to 2013.