Letter to the BTC Membership from the Board Chair

Dear Bruce Trail Conservancy Members,

Last week the Board of Directors announced that Beth Gilhespy's contract will be coming to conclusion at the end of the year after a successful 14-year term at the helm of the BTC. During this period of time, the Bruce Trail has advanced significantly and Beth has much to be proud of as the CEO.

Anyone who knows Beth is aware of her passion for the BTC and its mission. In recognition of all that she has accomplished, it could be no more fitting than to become one of a select few who have accepted the status of an Honorary Lifetime member. We know many members and hikers look forward to joining Beth on her very popular guided Geology hikes in the future where they can thank her more personally.

There have understandably been a number of enquiries seeking additional information on this decision. While respecting the desire for Beth's privacy, we can offer some additional context.

In 2017 the Board worked with staff to create a Five-Year Plan. We agreed to our Mission of "preserving a ribbon of wilderness for everyone, forever". We also established a Vision that would have the BTC secure the trail in 20 years. Building on the Mission, Vision and Values, we established a 5-year Strategic Plan that included elements such as: the need to build new and deeper relationships with Parks Canada and Ontario Parks ensuring we have access to critical portions of the optimum route; to expand fundraising capabilities; to accelerate land acquisitions and to promote brand awareness.

We looked at a number of options, including adding additional resources in key areas such as land securement, and we also worked to identify where we could reallocate resources to new initiatives. These deliberations lead to a review of the organization over the course of the past year with the intention to articulate the leadership and expertise needed to realize these priorities among others. As Beth's contract had expired it was incumbent on the Board to open a dialogue on what is required in our leader looking forward.

During this process and with much deliberation and dialogue, a decision was made to emphasize a different set of skills and leadership qualities that align with both the existing work and the new initiatives. These decisions are taken with great care and consideration for all. At the heart of the Board's deliberations was the best interests of the BTC in the longer term while acknowledging the accomplishments of the past.

Last evening, I had the opportunity to speak at length with the Executive members of one of our clubs. While fielding questions and providing additional context I was able to address the specific issues that their membership had while maintaining confidentiality and the desire for privacy that we all respect. I have now arranged similar member engagement conversations with various Clubs and have cleared my calendar to visit all 9 Clubs as soon as practical for them. I have also had several private conversations with members which I will also continue to make a priority. Nothing could be more important at this point than to answer your questions through dialogue and engagement, while respecting the bounds of what is more private to people.

As testament to Beth's professionalism and her personal integrity, she has offered to make herself available through the leadership transition and hopes to continue with her popular Geology Hikes while volunteering in various ways at the BTC in the future. As an Honorary Lifetime Member of the BTC, we all look forward to seeing Beth on the trails.

On behalf of the entire Board, please accept my thanks for your support of this important green space, and your interest in its ongoing leadership. We are all deeply committed to the preservation of this unique and precious resource, and I look forward to its continued protection and growth.

Warren Bell
Board Chair

Board of Directors

C. Archer, S. Bird, W. Brewer, M. Butcher, J. Dickason, R. Graham, J. Grandy, D. Hass, B. Johnston, C. Kellestine, B. King, D. Lamb, J. McClelland, A. Patel, F. Schoenhoeffer, M. Treuman, D. Water