The annual general meeting of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario was attended by 63 people – or about three per cent of the organization’s approximately 1100 membership – at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 33 in Milton, Ontario. The meeting lasted three hours and saw lively and civilized debate over some 21 motions put forward previously at PPBSO branch AGMs.
Several motions for changes to competition structure were put forward. Grade 1 and Grade 2 medley maximum durations were extended by another minute, and minimum durations were kept the same, thus allowing bands from other jurisdictions to compete without worry.
A motion for a new “Freestyle” Professional Solo Piping event, where competitors can submit their own choice of tunes for a two-to-four-minute medley was carried. The event will at times take the place of the existing Jig event.
The membership voted to accept a new rule that will allow pipers and drummers to play in a higher-grade band as many as three times in a season with an aim to foster “player development.”
Defeated was a motion that would have Grade 1 bands play both a Medley and an MSR at events, with up to five minutes to tune in between the performances, while never leaving the competition area. However, it was agreed that the idea would be taken to the PPBSO’s Music Board for evaluation and potential trial-run at a select event or events.
The organization voted to expand competition circles to accommodate increasingly larger bands.
The membership voted to eliminate the RSPBA-style pipes-down, pipes-up, ready, etc. drill that had been in place for several years.
President Bob Allen opened the meeting with his report on the previous year, saying that the organization has implemented online membership and expects to have online entry to competitions available by the spring. Allen Apologized for errors during the 2008 season, highlighting a problem at the Montreal Highland Games, for which he personally took responsibility.
He also said that the organization is working to develop a full slate of policies and procedures, including those for what to do in the event of inclement weather. The PPBSO faced problems at both the North American Championships and the Fergus Highland Games when a lightning storm went through the vicinity, exposing members and participants to potential risk.
Allen went on to report that annual membership dues have been reduced by 27 per cent to $40 with an eye to helping members through the current world financial crisis. He said that the PPBSO’s bank balance is “robust,” so operating on a “bare-bones budget” and even running a deficit is affordable
He added that a revision of the PPBSO’s by-laws is under discussion at the board level, which may include the addition of a provision to allow proxy voting. “We should have voting by proxy,” he said. “It seems a shame that we have a membership of 1100 people and only six per cent turn-out.”