CBBCA welcomes new president

CONSTANCE BAY – There were a lot of empty chairs at the Sunday afternoon (July 14) Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Association (CBBCA) Annual General Meeting – for outgoing president Len Russel, that was a good sign.

If you live the AGM-life community journalists do, you know a non-profit’s mandated annual meeting is one of the loneliest meetings around – little interest from the general community the association serves.

Just five nights earlier, the NorthWind Wireless Fibre Centre theatre was packed to the walls for a well-attended flood meeting. For the CBBCA meeting, even whispers seemed to echo.

But outgoing president Russel, who has been a board member with the CBBCA and other volunteer organizations for a long time, took the empty room as a compliment for those who do volunteer.

“These are the people that make things run from one year to the next,” he told those in attendance. “Because this room is empty, that means they did a great job.”

In total 14 attended the AGM, most of those were board members. Two in attendance were neither board members or volunteers, and of course, Coun. Eli El-Chantiry was also at the meeting.

New and old members of the CBBCA board (at least those in attendance at Sunday's meeting) pose for a photo following the completion of the AGM. Photo by Jake Davies
New and old members of the CBBCA board (at least those in attendance at Sunday’s meeting) pose for a photo following the completion of the AGM. Photo by Jake Davies

It was a big year for the CBBCA. The organization is back in the black after taking a loss the previous year as the CBBCA invested in its infrastructure, primarily the community centre. The CBBCA was also key in the creation of West Carleton Disaster Relief (WCDR) – a volunteer organization made up of West Carleton community association executives that has been a leading force in recovery from last fall’s tornado and this spring’s extreme flooding.

The CBBCA unfortunately has lots of experience in disaster recovery after taking a lead role during 2017 extreme flooding.

“We wanted to help maximize the volunteer part,” Russell said. “We took the things we learned in the 2017 flood and made improvements on that in 2018 and in 2019.”

This year, filling board positions will be key as many long-serving volunteers were moving on from their board roles at the CBBCA.

“Being on the board is important, but it’s only one part of what makes the community great,” Russell said.

The CBBCA had “record membership” in 2018 and Russell thanked membership coordinator Cindy Pratt for that.

“There continues to be a lot going on here,” Russell said. “Our message is anyone who wants to do something in the community, we will help. We’re always happy to add additional programming where it fits.”

Russell said there is 110 hours a week of programming at the NorthWind centre.

Russell called the CBBCA a “modern organization” saying a lot gets accomplished via email and the Internet.  Not just meetings and decisions, but financial transactions and programming help.

“We did more than 3,000 online transactions last year,” he said.

Russell says because of this the group only meets in person three or four times a year.

The CBBCA finishes the year with a net income of just more than $8,000. The previous year the CBBCA finished with a -$17,000 in the ledger mostly due to “facility renewal.”

The CBBCCA received a $10,000 grant from the city due to the revenue lost when the NorthWind centre became flood headquarters for the City of Ottawa in 2017.

One of the big goals of the CBBCA moving forward is to establish a Flood Protection Task Force. CBBCA vice president (from 2018) Ian Glen shared a bit of the details.

“What we are going to do as a community, a region is to alleviate the flood risk,” Glen said. “We all know what people do to protect their own home, may affect their neighbours.”

Glen says the task force will work to find ideas beneficial to the entire community during times of high water. He says having an official body may make it easier to find funding for larger programs and projects as well. Glen says he wants to commit to a group of no larger than six people and is already accepting applications.

Following the business portion of the meeting, the CBBCA AGM shifted in to elections. All positions were open, and in fact, several key positions were vacant. No voting was necessary though as the positions the CBBCA was able to fill that afternoon, were all filled through acclamation.

CBBCA has new president

As, now past president Russell stepped down, the CBBCA was able to find a volunteer ready to take on the responsibility of president of the board.

Constance Bay resident, community volunteer and long-serving CBBCA board member Kevin Pratt agreed to stand as president and was acclaimed to the position.

Pratt has spent the last few years on the board and also volunteers his time with the Constance Bay Community Market. He spoke with West Carleton Online shortly after being acclaimed to the position.

“I’ve been around on the board for three or four years,” he said. “Knowing the team, I was quite happy to take on the role with the support of the past members.”

Pratt says the background experience and the new membership will provide interesting new directions for the association to head in.

“It’s a good opportunity to continue the great work the association has been doing and look in new directions as well,” he said.

Other key roles filled last Sunday, all by acclamation, include new vice president Janette Edwards, treasurer Donna Pritlove, secretary Robyn Graham and Adults 55+ director Tamara Awada.

There are still some vacant positions on the board the organization will work to fill through one-on-one consultation (read, pleading) with targeted community members, but those interested in helping out can contact the CBBCA through their website.