South St. Vital - The co-chair of the Victoria Beach Yacht Club's Expansion Committee had his proposal crushed last night in an 11-3 vote. Alexander James Tooley had put forward a Ted Geddert design which would have almost doubled the size of the VBYC’s current facility. The aesthetics of the proposed plan seemed to be the sticking point. "I want to vote for this, I really do" said club member Dr. Richard Ratball, "but I just can’t get past the looks".
Many feel the expansion committee made a tactical blunder in making Mr. Tooley the meeting’s non-voting chair. Chris Aldridge, a long time Club secretary and canned beverage enthusiast suggested that had Tooley been able to cast a vote it may have stimulated a groundswell in support. "You never know," said Mr. Aldridge, "you get one more vote early and maybe guys start to want to not be seen as the stick-in-the-muds." However, after talking to members of Mr. Tooley's staff it was not clear how deeply he supported his own proposal. The evening's proceedings were marked by a strange sense of ambivalence towards the project which, to take effect, would ultimately have to receive royal assent from King Orest Dackow.
Two of the proposal's supporters, Roger Ritsema and Jamie Thomas (voting on behalf of his father, 1988 Redeye winner, Greg Thomas) were roundly criticized for not having supported the view with more enthusiasm. "Pretty weak" was the opinion of one of the meeting’s staffers who wished to remain anonymous in order to comment on internal matters, "those guys have reputations as bringing an articulate view to the table but they were just ineffective - if you don’t make a case for it, no one will vote your way." An aide to Mr. Ritsema shrugged off the criticism. "Our feeling was that the time and price was right, but having said that, I don’t think anyone in that room was comfortable with the design," he said. Ryan van Berkle, a senior member of Sailing Manitoba, was also largely quiet save for moving a motion that would have equipped the club with a direct line to the Moonlight Inn. The motion was soundly defeated. Mr. Ritsema was clearly surprised by the motion, "I’m not sure, at this point, that anyone is worrying about those kind of details."
Mr. Tooley and fellow expansion committee member Ivan McMorris left the meeting in a black town car and have not been available for comment.
After the meeting Jeremy Ritsema, who voiced the first complaint against the project's design and is widely viewed as the architect of the expansion plan’s defeat, stood under a Cactus Cove streetlight to address members of the media. "I think there are good things happening at the Club," said Mr.Ritsema, "But this plan was simply not the right route. The desire to move forward is clearly there, and that's exciting, but we cannot waste members' money on a design that is flawed conceptually and, frankly, aesthetically," he added, lighting a cigarette.
- Herald Staff Reporter