Gleen Greensides coaxes another masterpiece out of a fir log at the 2012 Transformations on the Shore carving competition.

Campbell River carving competition was never near collapse, organizers say

The society has, however, gone through a bit of an upheaval in the past few years

The Shoreline Arts Society says comments made at a recent council meeting that the Canada Day carving competition came close to collapse are not true.

Coun. Larry Samson said at a council meeting March 19 that the society was in a precarious spot and needed council’s help.

“The Shoreline Arts had gone through a dramatic, drastic changeover and I think it’s important that we show them support,” Samson said. “It was in danger of collapsing.”

On Monday, Amanda Minaker, secretary of the Shoreline Arts Society, said Samson’s comments were taken out of context.

“Never, at any time, has the chainsaw carving competition been close to collapse,” Minaker said. “It is true that all but two of the directors resigned at the Annual General Meeting held in September, but the reasons for the resignations did not pertain to the society’s operations. Their replacements were also established at the same meeting. Our board is a strong one, made up of retired and non-retired professional members of the community who volunteer their time.”

The society has, however, gone through a bit of an upheaval in the past few years. In 2011, 10-year president Barb Bitner moved to Vancouver and had to step down. The year before, eight board members stepped down. The popular chainsaw carving competition, which promotes local and regional wood carvers and helps attract tourists, survives on community donations and grants. Part of that is the city’s annual $5,000 grant-in-aid.

This year the money will come from the city’s Community Partnership Committee as it has in the past but the committee was recommending the money come from the city’s parks and recreation budget in future years. Several councillors said they could not support that, much to the dismay of Samson.

“What message are we giving to the carvers, the artists that come here when we don’t even want to spend $5,000 a year to maintain the carvings that show up?” Samson asked. “So I think the $5,000 is the least we can do to show our support and to make sure that the Shoreline Arts Society continues to grow.”

Coun. Andy Adams said Samson was missing the point.

“This is not an issue of whether or not the carvings are maintained, it’s a matter of where the funding comes from,” Adams said. “I think councillor Samson’s comments are out of order. I think we have clearly articulated that the maintenance of the carvings is important and valuable to this community, it’s just a matter of where the money’s coming from. The $5,000 is not the question, and the maintenance of the carvings is not the question.”

In the end, a motion to take the $5,000 from the parks and recreation budget was defeated, with only councillors Samson and Ron Kerr voting in favour.

This year’s carving competition, the 17th annual, is slated for June 26-30 at Frank James Park.