Time to vote! Remember our Sechelt Seniors Activity Centre, ‘the Centre’, belongs to our members and it’s important that everyone feels represented on the Board. We asked our candidates three questions with very limited time to complete. Should you want more information, including contact info, about any candidate please contact the office. Below are the nominee’s responses we received:


Director at Large Candidates:

Gwen Austen: For approximately fourteen years until I retired in 2005, I was Executive Director of Brock House Society Seniors Society, in Vancouver. I was expected to attend monthly Board meetings, with a written report and be available to answer any questions asked by any one of the twenty plus Board of Directors. I also reported to the Executive on a day-to-day basis.

Alister Blair: From my 30 years’ experience as an information technology and business consulting executive, I learned to listen closely, be curious and thrive in team environments. I developed strong communications, interpersonal and project management skills. I like to get things done and am more of a doer than a delegator. I also taught in the Part Time Studies curriculum at BCIT and know the value that adult education can bring.

Bert Carswell: I have been a volunteer for community organizations for over 50 years in the various locations where I have lived. These ranged from university student government to coaching my children’s sports teams to more recently directorship of organizations on the Sunshine Coast such as the Gibsons Curling Club and Board for the Sunshine Coast Community Resource Centre.

Mark Garland: Worked for BCHydro for 35 years in the Computer Division. When I retired I was on the Foundation Board of Directors for St. Michael’s Centre (a Seniors Care Home in Burnaby) for several years. I was on the Bridge as Supply Officer for the Royal City Branch of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron for 5 years. I was on the Bridge of the Royal City Yacht Club as Rear Commodore, Vice Commodore, Commodore in 2014, 2015, 2016 respectively. I have been a Director at Large for Sechelt Seniors Activity Centre for the past Year, 2022.

John Keller: Owned and ran a successful midsize electrical/security company for 30 years.

  • Past Kinsman Board Member. Presently Director with The Hidden Groves Society
  • Red Cross First aid & CPR/AED Level C ticket.
  • Bondable and have had a Criminal Record Check
  • Experience running and working with committees

President Candidate:

Richard Ward: I have a history of effective and harmonious leadership in various realms, making me an ideal candidate to serve in the role of President of the Sechelt Seniors Activity Centre. I had a 37-year career as a faculty member in Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University (SFU), retiring in 2018. In 2015, I was awarded an SFU Excellence in Teaching Award. My career at SFU gave me experience in leading several large diverse committees. As Undergraduate Program Chair in the Kinesiology department for 6 years, I was instrumental in proposing and developing two new B.Sc. programs.

Outside of academia, I was President of the Simon Fraser University Rugby. While President of the Fraser Valley Llama and Alpaca Club; I created and ran the annual Western Fall Classic Llama and Alpaca Show fully supported by sponsorships for several years.
Vice President Candidate (incumbent):

Roy Wren: 30 years adult education, faculty, management, full time faculty president, at Vancouver Community College. 6 years instructing at Capilano College Sechelt. Board member at Gibsons Curling Club, member of Elder College program committee.


Gwen Austen: I presently work as a volunteer on the desk in the main office.

Alister Blair: My involvement at the Centre currently involves playing Pickleball as often as possible, helping run Richard’s Tuesday Bingo sessions and I love Emily’s lunches!

Bert Carswell: For the past six years I have been Co-Chair of the pickleball program and for the past two years a coach at the Centre. Currently at the Seniors Centre, I volunteer as a dishwasher twice per month.

Mark Garland: I have been doing Day Director duties at the Centre every Wednesday for the past year, I will carry that on. I have created digital versions of most of the forms used at the Centre for ease of printing. I have updated all the Lunch room menus and keep a supply printed. I am on the Technical Committee and give computer support to people that need it. I print all sign in sheets required. I created the Ballots for this election.

John Keller: Helping out with Auditorium sound equipment, exterior lighting, line dancing and dancing events. Doing posters and internet advertising for Special Entertainment Committee. I DJ’d the Seniors Centre’s New Years Eve Dance event.

Richard Ward: I have been a SSAC member for more than 5 years and am currently a Director-at-large, having joined the board in September, 2022. As a Board member, I developed the successful new BINGO activity, as a fund raiser for the SSAC. I am the organizer and caller, working with a great group of volunteers. For the past four years I have been the organizer for pickleball at the SSAC and coach and assess beginners joining the SSAC to play the game.

Roy Wren: Board member at SSAC since 2017, Vice President from 2022, Acting President, 2023.


Gwen Austen: My hope is to be a productive member of the Centre by supporting the Executive and its members by providing a safe place to attend a variety of activities, classes, and volunteering. Seniors are a vital part of any community and the Centre enables its members to enjoy a rich and rewarding experience and the opportunity to make new friends.

Alister Blair: As a relatively new member to the Centre, I found a welcoming and supportive group with a broad range of programs and activities beneficial to seniors. I’d like to be a contributor in helping this important work continue by leveraging my expertise to support the published Constitution Purposes.

Bert Carswell: I believe that my experience and knowledge of volunteerism and governance in non profit organizations will be useful in helping the Sechelt Seniors Activity Centre achieve its constitutional goal “to support and improve the lives of seniors and persons with disabilities”.

Mark Garland: I will continue to support the day to day functioning of the Centre by doing everything I can to ensure the success of our wonderful community resource for future members

John Keller: If elected I will work as a team member to help and support all members and Volunteers of our Seniors Activity Centre. It would be my honor to be part of this team.

Richard Ward: We are at a critical time in the development of the Centre. My strong leadership via strategic planning, is needed to establish an integrated structure in which existing and new programs can further flourish, with a strong financial base and goals aimed at fulfilling our mission of reducing social isolation and improving the health and quality of life of seniors. Over the years, I have developed good interpersonal relationships with directors, staff, volunteers, and many members. Success will be enhanced by the confidence inspired by the presence of cohesive governance that I intend to bring about to guide invaluable services and activities for all the seniors we serve.

Roy Wren: I believe I have already established an excellent relationship with our membership, and will continue work at this relationship with those members whom I have not yet met in person.