APEGA broke its own record on April 23 at our first-ever virtual annual general meeting (AGM)—with 290 voting members and 80 non-voting participants logging in. It was APEGA’s most well-attended AGM since there were 240 voting members at the 2015 AGM, which had been held in Calgary.
Following last year’s cancellation of most public events due to COVID-19, APEGA asked members to vote on a bylaw amendment to authorize APEGA to hold meetings fully or partially electronically. The amendment passed soundly—98 per cent of APEGA members who voted did so in support—during the 2021 Council election, making it possible for us to host this year’s AGM during the ongoing pandemic.
Though the bylaw amendment was primarily in response to the current health crisis, its benefits are much broader—the ability to attend APEGA meetings virtually makes them more accessible to members who are unable to travel.
The 413 total registrations for this year’s AGM shows the format change was a welcome one.
“I was pleased to be able to connect with our members, even if it had to be through our first-ever remote AGM,” says Jay Nagendran, P.Eng., APEGA’s Registrar and CEO. “As we have just completed our centennial year, this AGM marks the beginning of APEGA’s second century, and I have no doubt that we will soar to new heights thanks to the commitment of our talented members. Congratulations to our newly elected councillors, who—along with our other dedicated volunteers—keep APEGA performing our duty to protect the public.”
Preparation is key
After confirming the results of the bylaw vote, APEGA Council prepared to hold the 2021 AGM virtually, reviewing and approving special rules of order at the March 25 Council meeting to ensure the event ran smoothly. The rules outlined procedures to be followed before and during the virtual meeting and—along with the AGM agenda—were posted on the AGM registration page, shared with all members in advance, and read aloud at the beginning of the AGM.
Leading up to the AGM, Council engaged a parliamentarian to interpret and apply the rules of order to ensure the meeting complied with Robert’s Rules of Order and adhered to APEGA’s bylaws. The parliamentarian also attended the event remotely and was available for consultation during the proceedings.
APEGA also contracted a third party to provide audio-visual support and alleviate any potential technological barriers for attendees. A toll-free number was installed so eligible voting members who wished to speak on a motion could speak to the assembly live, and a professional call centre ensured phone lines were effective and operational.
Setting the event into motion
Like most of the AGM registrants, APEGA councillors attended the meeting from their homes or offices. President John Van der Put, P.Eng.; President-Elect Brian Pearse, P.Eng.; Past-President George Eynon, P.Geo.; Vice-President Lisa Doig, P.Eng.; and Nagendran logged in from a professional studio in Calgary—which was provided by the audio-visual company—and consulted with a COVID-19 compliance officer to ensure adherence to all public health restrictions on group size, physical distancing, cleaning frequency, and masking.
APEGA strictly followed Robert’s Rules during the AGM, addressing motions by unanimous consent and voting only on standard business items for which objections had been raised. Members were given one minute to enter the phone queue if they wished to speak on a motion.
During the proceedings, one objection was made regarding the appointment of the Nominating Committee—the objection was seconded and voted on using the webcasting service’s anonymous voting feature, provided only to eligible voting APEGA members. The majority vote was in favour of retaining the Nominating Committee as appointed, and the outcome of the vote was shared with non-voting participants.
A double vesting ceremony
Adding a colourful closing to our first-ever virtual AGM, Eynon, who was past-president in 2020-2021, and Van der Put, who transitioned to 2021-2022 past-president at the event, joined the Order of the Vest: an annual tradition of the past-presidents to welcome the next to join their ranks. The honour of bestowing a vest or sash upon the past-president is usually conducted at the Summit Awards Gala, but as we were unable to hold the gala last year, Eynon and Van der Put shared the virtual stage at the AGM.
Eynon chose a pattern reminiscent of his Welsh heritage, while Van der Put selected a Scottish tartan of the Sinclair Clan, which his wife and daughters belong to. “I chose this tartan as a way to express my gratitude to my family for the support they’ve given me over the many years that I’ve served as an APEGA volunteer, culminating in my year as president,” said Van der Put. Eynon and Van der Put join a long history of past APEGA presidents who have worn these vests or sashes with pride.