Better late than never.

That’s how Meadow Lake Co-op board members and staff feel in the wake of the organization’s 2021 annual general meeting, a gathering that took place July 13 at the PineRidge Ford Curling Club when, traditionally, it is scheduled for the spring.

“July is not the time to be holding meetings,” remarked Meadow Lake Co-op general manager Caralee Strome.

The reason for the delay was, of course, COVID-19, but, in spite of the pandemic, the local Co-op still experienced what Strome would consider a strong year.

“It was a year of change,” Strome said. “We were dealing with the COVID situation, which was new for everybody, and we had to be nimble at times. We needed to work the best we could and make changes quickly. However, it was a year I am proud of. I am proud of our team, our community and our members. We have come through so much.”

Strome went on to say, financially, it was also a good year for the Co-op. According to the annual report presented at the AGM, the Co-op experienced greater profit in terms of sales – $13.6 million compared to $12.9 million in 2020, while the only area of business that showed lower sales in 2020 was petroleum, primarily because of the dramatically lower fuel prices.

“It just goes to show what supporting local can do,” Strome added. “Profits were up, but it’s not easy to pinpoint exactly where because of all our different business lines. We did, however, have a great year in agriculture, food, hardware, sports and leisure – volumes were great. When you take it as a total association, it was a great improvement from the previous year.”

However, the total amount of patronage refunds for 2021 is down compared to last year – going from $5,009,300 in 2020 to $1,795,738 this year. Again, Strome said, this is mainly because of lower fuel sales company wide.

Meanwhile, the AGM also saw a few changes to the Co-op board. Long-time director Jim Neufeld stepped down after 27 years, while his son, Travis, was selected to take a spot on the board. Reg Sonntag’s term was renewed. However, Terry Pylot, whose term also expired, chose not to continue with the board.

by Phil Ambroziak