OSCA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2008
As many of you will know, this is an unusual year for your OSCA Board as for the first time we are holding our Annual General Meeting in May, rather than November. So this is a very short year to be reporting on consisting of six, rather than the normal 12, months. In consequence, this will be a somewhat shorter report than in previous years! One of the main reasons we have changed the date of the AGM is to have a new Board in place with the opportunity to plan activities, set priorities and approve budgets in advance of our program year which tends to follow the school year from September to June.
As you will see from our committee reports there is a lot of activity going on and financially your association is in excellent shape. In the course of this year I think we are seeing a number of important issues emerge which will critically impact on the agenda of the next Board whose term will run from May of this year to the end of April 2009.
The first is the need to deal with a large number of governance issues. OSCA has been in existence now for some 35 years. While in some senses we have become a community institution, we are no longer the kind of an organization that can be run in a casual and temporary manner. We have dozens of part time employees and contractors to manage, total operating budgets (including OSCAR) approaching half a million dollars, major reserves and charitable fund assets and a very successful community paper that is now publishing 11 months a year with over 45 pages an issue.
We will need to focus in the next few years on improving our management, human resources and governance processes. We also have to consider new ways to sign up members, and indeed decide on how we define our membership base, given that we no longer seem to be able to recruit the necessary volunteers to run membership drives. In addition, electronic registration for programming , while convenient for signing up for programs, means the loss of the old face-to-face registration sessions at the beginning of each season, that we successfully used to ask people to join the association and take out a membership card.
Second, while we have had a quiet couple of years on the development and traffic fronts, the problems of managing our physical environment and traffic have not gone away, far from it. The City continues to grow and the pressure for more development intensification and the burden of commuter traffic will grow with it, especially in communities such as Old Ottawa South. It will be important to seize the initiative over the next few years so that we do not become prisoners of events. The safety audit on Sunnyside and the proposal to develop a Community Design Plan for Old Ottawa South (that will help to ensure that the Official Plan and the City's by laws are interpreted in our community which in a way that promotes attractive and liveable community spaces), will be important tools for us to manage the future. Investing the time and effort in these initiatives is, if nothing else, an important form of insurance so that we have the rules and precedents in place to support developments that contribute to our community, and successfully resist those that do not.
Third, the coming year will mark the culmination of many years of effort to get our community centre renovated and expanded. The Old Firehall is one of the most heavily used facilities of its size and type in the city – it is worn out, cramped and lacking in essential facilities. We have been fund raising for over a decade, we have gone through two design processes and we have a well honed vision of what is needed. Finally, as a result of a critical donation of funds by the province, and our own lobbying efforts, we have the City supporting an official design process that will see a fully City certified and costed design go to Council for funding this autumn. It will be critical for us not only to work hard on the design proposal itself, but also to lobby Council and senior officials this autumn to support the funding for the renovation and construction phase of this critical project. We owe it to all the hard work and fund raising that OSCA members have carried out over the last decade to do our very best this autumn to convince Council that this is a project that is well worth supporting and will bring critical benefits to this community and to many other City residents who live outside Old Ottawa South, but who patronize this historic and very busy community centre.
Before closing I would like to take this occasion to thank my fellow board members, and those volunteers who help out on our committees and at our various events and projects for their time, their hard work and especially, for their enthusiasm. I would like to thank in particular Gayatri Jayaraman who is retiring from the Board this year, but continuing with the Program Committee. Our OSCAR Editor, Mary Anne Thompson, has done a superb job this past year making OSCAR one of Ottawa's finest community newspapers. Cathie Buchanan and Dinos Dafniotis have been invaluable in making the community centre a great place to carry out programming. Finally, and by no means least, I would like to thank our executive director, Deirdre McQuillan, for her tireless efforts in helping to make OSCA one of the best community associations in Ottawa.
It has been an honour and privilege to serve as your President this year and I thank you for the opportunity you have given me.
2 May 2008