Before March, before COVID-19, before the closure of City recreational facilities, and before the closure of The Firehall, OSCA’s Executive Committee met quarterly unless special circumstances demanded otherwise.
Once federal, provincial, and municipal governments (in collaboration with public health authorities) ordered an immediate lockdown, OSCA cancelled all programming, including the Firehall Fitness Centre, the Pottery Studio, as well as on-site Board and Committee meetings.
Thus began our virtual community lives by Zoom. The Executive now meets weekly - more often when required - and updates the Board of Directors on actions taken and makes recommendations/proposals to the Board.
The Executive includes the principal officers of President, Vice President, Past President, Treasurer, Secretary, and the Chair of the Operations Committee, as well as the Executive Director and all relevant staff when operational decisions require more detail or precision.
The Board of Directors has continued to meet by Zoom the third Tuesday of every month. Normally, there is a summer break for volunteer board members but this is no ordinary summer. We met in July and will be meeting again in August.
The following is a brief outline of what has transpired over the last several months with respect to programming and OSCA operations.
- In mid-March the Firehall closed. March Break Camps were forced to be cancelled as well as the two remaining weeks of Winter Programming.
- March Break Camp fees were refunded, and Winter Programming fees were refunded upon request.
- The Executive Committee (EC) started meeting more frequently to determine next steps during the Firehall closure.
- The EC decided - with Board approval - to retain all full-time staff, as well as the part-time communications coordinator contract.
Spring & Summer Virtual Programming
- OSCA staff, with approval from the EC, pivoted to virtual, online programming.
- Initially, the pivot to online included regular COVID-19-related updates to the community, including lots of virtual “boredom buster” ideas for all ages.
- Subsequently, a Spring Virtual Program Guide was developed and virtual Spring Programs were launched in May 2020.
- Programs were offered for free, with an invitation to “Pay What You Can” (PWYC). The revenues collected through the Pay What You Can fund are shared 70-30 between Instructors & OSCA
- The success of the Spring Virtual Programs allowed for an expanded approach for Summer Virtual Programs. Another interactive, virtual guide was created and Summer Programs launched in July 2020.
- In addition to virtual programs and workshops for all ages, the Summer Virtual Guide also includes weekly themed virtual Summer Camps for children.
- Cancelling in-person programming and offering virtual programming on a PWYC basis has meant a sharp decrease in program revenue, while most of our fixed costs (salaries, registration system fees, website fees, supplies and equipment, professional fees, insurance etc.) have remained fixed.
- Since the beginning of March, OSCA has been operating on reserve funds - set aside throughout the years for a rainy day - assisted by federal government subsidies. Note, OSCA does not receive any financial assistance or funds from the City.
- While the reserve funds and federal government subsidies have allowed OSCA to remain operational until now, the current situation is not sustainable.
- OSCA’s goal is to provide programming on a break-even basis and depends on program fees to pay for staff. Therefore, paid programming will be re-introduced in the Fall.
The Path to Fall
- Ontario’s move into Stage 3, with reduced Covid-19 restrictions, will allow the possibility for OSCA to offer indoor programming for children and adults.
- The current uncertainty about what “return to school” will look like has a significant impact on OSCA’s ability to plan for the Fall. OSCA will continue to monitor this situation closely and adjust planning as necessary.
- Given significant uncertainty around in-person programming, OSCA will proceed with programming in the following ways:
- Continue offering Virtual Programming for both children and adults. Lessons learned from Spring & Summer sessions will be utilized to optimize offerings and recruit additional instructors for a wide variety of Fall programming.
- Fall Programming will be offered on a regular, paid fee structure.
- Whether or not OSCA can offer any in-person children’s programming and/or care is contingent on direction from the City and Ottawa Public Health (OPH) around operational and sanitizing protocols.
- Whether or not OSCA can offer any in-person programming for adults at the Firehall is contingent on direction from the City and OPH, as well as operational considerations around child care and programming.
- As the situation becomes better defined, we will be providing updates with progressively more detailed information on the shape and coverage of our Fall in-person programming.
This update was prepared by OSCA’s Executive Director and the Chair of the Operations Committee.