I am pleased to be able to report to you on the activities of OSCA over the past year. This will be a general overview as you will be receiving detailed information on our activities in the reports tonight from our executive officers and committee chairs.
Overall, I would like to make the following observations:
• OSCA is in good shape financially; revenues are growing and we are on track this year to generate a healthy surplus which will be re-invested in community programming and infrastructure. In addition, our programme registrations are growing and remain robust; in fact we could become a million dollar a year organization in the near term if current trends continue.
• In keeping with our growth as an organization we have made an important transition in terms of our staff support, moving from a part-time to a full-time executive director, appointing a new OSCAR editor and making improvements in our governance and operating procedures;
• We have a dynamic and successful newspaper and website that are reporting back to the community on important community events and issues, acting as major forums for community members to communicate with one another and providing important information on, and access to, our programming;
• We have hosted a wide range of community special events over the past year with excellent turnout and participation from community members; and finally,
• We have been engaged in a number of initiatives to advance the views of our community on important development municipal issues from zoning to infill housing and traffic and pedestrian safety.
While the year has generally been a successful one, in my view we face a number of important challenges in the coming year:
• We need to further improve our management of programs and negotiate a partnership agreement with the City that will outline our respective accountabilities and roles in planning, developing and implementing programming at the Firehall and beyond;
• We need to improve our ability to engage volunteers in OSCA’s activities and build a core base of volunteers so that our important community work does not fall on the shoulders of a dedicated few;
• We need to capitalize on our community survey and develop a long term strategic plan for OSCA and the community it represents;
• We need to grow our membership base and improve the way we sign up and communicate with OSCA members so that we can demonstrate to City officials, and the wider public, that when we speak on behalf of the community, we do so from a membership base that is large and diverse; and
• We will need to press for zoning changes in the community, to address the challenge of increased intensification of both residential and commercial properties. Capitalizing on the benefits of intensification while reducing the downsides needs to be our objective here, challenging developers to provide the best in urban design.
Your Board has worked hard this year on your behalf, helping to make Old Ottawa South a better place to live for all of us and I would like to take this opportunity, on your behalf, to thank them all. Next year promises to be even better, in no small part due to the investment and hard work that has taken place over the past year. I would like to thank in particular our departing Board members this year: Val MacIntosh, Kendall McQueen, Greg Zador, Sarah Fraser and Michaela Tokarski.
A vote of thanks also goes to all our volunteers and staff who help make OSCA the great organization it is and who help ensure that our activities and programs take place efficiently, and that our representative work at city hall and with our fellow community associations is effectively and forcefully done. We are also particularly lucky in having such wonderful City staff to work with at the Community Centre; our Centre Director Janet Conley-Paterson and especially our ever energetic Programme Co-ordinator Dinos Dafniotis have helped make our programmes and our events a great success this year. Lastly, and by no means least, I would like to thank our new Executive Director Christy Savage for all her hard work this year – she has learned the ropes in record time and has been a pleasure to work with.
This will be my last AGM report as your President. After over 10 years in the job, and 14 years on the Board, it’s time to pass the baton and ensure some fresh perspective and energy in the Association. While at times it has been hard work, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as President and will continue to help out if I am re-elected to the Board.
We have seen a lot of change in the Old Ottawa South over the last ten years: we have grown and expanded as a community as more and more families and other residents have moved in “between the Bridges”; Bank Street has been rebuilt and rezoned to help protect it as a traditional Main Street; and our role in the community has grown both as a provider of programmes and as an advocate for our residents. However, if there was one event that I was most pleased to see happen during my time as President, the one big highlight, it was seeing Council approve the renovation and expansion of the Firehall after 10 years of teamwork and fundraising on the part of the community. It was wonderful to see all that dedicated work, by so many people, come to such a happy and worthwhile conclusion.
So, in conclusion, all the best to all of our members and residents, and to my colleagues on the Board, good wishes for a successful year in 2013-14.