Upwards of 40 people gathered at Conserver House for the meeting, drawing members of the board of directors, funders, staff and other interested individuals from across the province.
Attendees tackled the usual business of amending bylaws and composing the board for the year ahead, and were treated to a presentation on Crown Forests from University of New Brunswick professor Tom Beckley.
No doubt, though, the highlight of the affair was celebrating the dedicated service of outgoing president Stephanie Coburn with a scrumptious gluten-free cake baked by the council’s own Stephanie Merrill.
Coburn got a little teary-eyed during a lengthy and warm standing ovation from attendees who wished to show their appreciation for the expertise and guidance Coburn provided over three years as president of New Brunswick’s environmental advocate.
Coburn and her family operate a farm in Millstream, outside Sussex, where they produce grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and pigs, and vegetables. She was also the owner and operator of Winterwood Natural Food Store in downtown Sussex.
Attendees gave a warm welcome to Liane Thibodeau, who stepped up to fill the role of president of the board. A retired human resources consultant, Thibodeau is a co-founder of the Miramichi Environmental Society and served on the Conservation Council’s board in the 90s. Recently, she was active in the movement to protect our land, air and water from the risks posed by shale gas development in New Brunswick.
Close to 50 people were present in the afternoon for forestry professor Tom Beckley’s presentation on the forest strategy brought about by Premier David Alward’s Progressive Conservative government.
Beckley noted the new plan, announced in March 2014, effectively flipped Crown Forest management on its head, putting timber allocation above conservation goals, a reversal of a long-held, conservation-first focus. Beckley argued the debate around the forestry strategy should be framed as a moral and ethical issue, not simply a scientific or economic matter. Above all else, Beckley said the plan is morally and ethically wrong, and should be opposed on those terms.
The meeting also saw new faces added to the Conservation Council’s board of directors. Rob Moir, an associate professor of economics at UNBSJ, and John Bird, who will be called to the New Brunswick Bar this fall, were welcomed to serve three-year terms on the board.
Moir has run for federal office three times on campaigns based on social and environmental justice. Over the years, he has provided advice, reports, and expert testimony on pipeline locations, hydrocarbon security, suburban development in environmentally-sensitive zones, shale gas extraction, mining, and Crown Forest management.
Bird completed his Master of Laws, Environmental and Maritime Law, at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. Throughout his academic career, Bird has investigated safety concerns associated with nuclear- and coal-sourced energy, sustainable development, state and corporate responsibility, climate policies, and the diversity, speciation and decimation of reef ecology.
Staff and board members at the Conservation Council welcomed the newest members and are eager to draw from their experience and expertise.
Two board members, Frank Johnson and John Crompton, agreed to serve another three-year term with the council. Carla Gunn stepped down from the board this fall. Gunn, a psychology professor and author of a fantastic environmental fiction novel (Amphibian), was thanked for her three years of service, during which she provided solid guidance to the executive committee and excellent advice to staff at Conserver House.
Head to the post on our website to download the powerpoint presentation that ran at the AGM, giving a visual rundown of what staff and members of the Conservation Council were up to in 2013-14.