The following article was printed in the March 2021 of the OSCAR. We have adapted the article for online reading, abbreviated where we could, and reorganized some of the information in response to some very helpful suggestions.
Save Our Firehall
In Response to Your Questions
Since launching OSCA’s fundraising campaign to Save Our Firehall, we have received a variety of messages by email and phone encouraging us, lending both moral and financial support. We thank you for this kindness and generosity.
We have also received some very good questions about OSCA, its relationship to the City, and why OSCA chose to begin fundraising when it did. We thank you for this feedback. And over the next couple of months we will answer your questions. We welcome your inquiries and your engagement.
What is OSCA?
OSCA is the Old Ottawa South Community Association. It is a not-for-profit corporation registered in Ontario.
OSCA offers a number of recreational services to the Old Ottawa South Community including Adult Fitness and Dance courses, After-4/Breakfast Club, PD days and Summer Camps for children of working parents. It also advocates for a safer community through committees like the Traffic and Safety Committee; appropriate development through committees like Planning and Zoning; a supportive community through initiatives like Senior Watch Old Ottawa South (SWOOS) and Diversity and Inclusion; and a greener community through initiatives like the Green Dreamers and the Climate Action Committee.
How is OSCA governed?
OSCA’s Board of Directors and committees are volunteers from the community.
OSCA employs a small number of full-time and part-time staff and contractors to administer and run its programs and assist the Board and committees to do their work.
OSCA holds an Annual General Meeting (AGM) each year to update the community and association membership on OSCA’s goals and objectives and elect members to the Board of Directors. Other business of the AGM includes presentation of the audited finance statements, the annual financial report and the ratification of by-laws.
Normally, OSCA holds its AGM in May. Each year prior to its AGM, OSCA provides the City with a copy of its annual audited financial statements, in accordance with OSCA’s Program Delivery Agreement with the City of Ottawa.
What is OSCA’s relationship to the City?
OSCA is not a city-run organisation. It is a partner of the City.
OSCA delivers community recreational programs from the Firehall (our community centre). The Firehall is also “home” to the Association and OOS volunteers.
The Firehall heritage building is owned and maintained by the City of Ottawa. The programs that are delivered to the community, however, are paid for and managed by OSCA under the terms of a Program Delivery Agreement with the City. Program fees pay for all costs of program delivery, including staff.
What Changed in 2020?
The COVID-19 pandemic changed our normal way of doing business.
The financial situation has changed
As of March 2020, with the closure of in-person programming, OSCA’s revenues dropped by about 70%. In 2020 and 2021, we also faced additional costs associated with implementing COVID-19 restrictions. These costs include COVID-19 protocols and planning; online programming supports such as zoom, instructor training and added client supports; the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPEs), cleaning products and materials, minor renovations, etc.
Program delivery has changed
Like many organizations and small businesses, OSCA decided to innovate, to reinvent community program delivery. Program delivery staff (under the approval and guidance of OSCA) transformed OSCA from an in-person registration program service to an online virtual service. This was no easy task; however, staff was up for the challenge and OSCA’s Board of Directors supported the move to virtual programming.
Health and Safety requirements have vastly impacted sanitary measures
OSCA is required to follow strict Ottawa Public Health Protocols.
Our in-person programs continue to be reviewed in partnership with the City and Ottawa Public Health guidelines.
Governance has changed
Due to COVID restrictions, in 2020 the AGM was delayed from May to October and was held as a video-conference. Nonetheless, over 60 OSCA members participated in the meeting via Zoom.
As OSCA’s year-end falls on December 31, the 2019 audited financial statements were presented to the AGM nine months after the end of 2019. These statements reflected the financial situation of the organisation for a normal year, not the pandemic year of 2020 that OSCA was already deep into.
How is OSCA managing under COVID-19 restrictions?
OSCA has managed to keep five (down from seven) full-time staff employed with the help of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the updated Canada Summer Jobs Grant. OSCA also successfully applied to the Red Cross’s Resilient Communities Grant, the Canada Emergency Business Loan and continues to draw on its operations reserve fund.
These subsidies and grants have generated $262,600 of funds since March 2020.
More recently we applied to the Trillium Foundation but will not know if we are successful until April 2021. If successful, this grant will provide OSCA with enough funds to make significant upgrades to the way we provide service and communicate with clients and the community.
What are OSCA’s Costs?
Aside from costs directly related to the delivery of programs (supplies, instructors/staff salaries, communications equipment, professional fees, technical advice and support) there are fixed administrative costs such as our website, bookkeeping, monthly communications costs, auditing, licencing, etc.
What are the OSCA Reserves and how are they being used?
OSCA’s reserves represent savings from program revenue over the last 10 years. These reserves exist as a community financial resource. They have been set aside for issues that directly affect our community and can be drawn on only be consent of OSCA’s Board of Directors.
On December 31, 2020 the Operations reserve was $77,000. Funds from one of the capital assets reserve ($50,000) were moved to the Operations reserve bringing it to $127,000.
There are two more reserves totaling $153,000. These reserves could be transferred to the operating fund but doing that would jeopardize start-up in the autumn (depending on the ebb and flow of the pandemic), the hiring of staff and the ability to procure equipment and supplies in advance of program registration.
Do you have more questions?
We are more than happy to reply. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next month, we promise to answer more of your inquiries.
And thank you once again for turning your attention to this rather important question: What is the future of our community centre?