I would like to welcome everyone and acknowledge that we are holding this meeting on the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, and the Haudnashonee peoples.
Thanks for being here. It’s been a busy and very rewarding year to be on the board, and I was very happy to be able to do so as president!
Transparency and Communication
This year we sent out a newsletter from the staff and board every couple of months to let members know of upcoming events, Board and staff initiatives, and other co-op updates that members may want to know about. We have been including a very entertaining bio of a staff member in each newsletter, to highlight the important work the staff does to keep the co-op running. We plan to continue putting out the newsletter this coming year. We’d love to hear from you if there are specific things you would like to know more about.
In the ongoing effort to improve communication, we also now have televisions in both lobby that feature information about co-op events, maintenance issues, a news feed, notices about energy saving options, and any other information that may be of interest to members.
We spent many months working on a new Member Liaison position, which will be a new way for members to communicate issues and complaints. In general, it will still be important to go first to the office if possible, as that will be the fastest way to have things addressed. However, we are aware that people may not always feel comfortable doing that, so we are in the process of finalizing a clear process for people to raise concerns. The Member Liaison will receive and respond to issues that members bring up. While many of those issues would still need to eventually go through the office, particularly in cases of emergency or risk to the coop or other members, the Member Liaison will be a supportive listening, knowledgable about the co-op and able to help people think through their issue. This will initially be run as a 6 month pilot project, and then will be reviewed and extended if it is working well.
We will be hosting a fun and interactive theatre performance to get member feedback and finalize the details of the Member Liaison position. The performance will be on November 22nd in the evening. A theatre group called Branch Out Theatre will come in to go through some scenarios that may be helped by the Member Liaison, and members will have a chance to give suggestions and even step in to play roles if they would like. All participation is voluntary. We really need as many people as possible to come to find out more about the Member Liaison’s role, give suggestions, and help us turn this process into something members will feel comfortable with. And if you come out on the 22nd, you will get to see someone pretend to be Ann!
Environmental and Energy Saving Initiatives
We were hit with rising electricity costs this last year, which was one reason that the Board initiated a number of energy saving initiatives at the coop, to help us reduce our energy use, improve recycling and use of the green bit, and conserve as much as possible. Some of the things we have done are:
- an information campaign including written messages, tips for recycling on the TV, and co-op events about recycling and how to use the various bins to decrease our environmental impact and also the fees we pay the city for garbage removal;
- restricting access to garbage bins, so that there are less people from the neighbourhood putting their garbage in our bins; and
- recycling days when volunteers go around and collect recycling from members to ensure it ends up in the right bin.
We also have some longer-term plans, including
- replacing light bulbs with more energy efficient LEDs in apartments and also in common areas and the garage; and
- eventually doing an energy audit to determine ways we could become more energy efficient in the longer term.
The board met for a special meeting in April to do some strategic planning for our goals for the coop moving forward. We brainstormed an exciting list of projects and things we want to prioritize, including maintenance and infrastructure priorities, short, medium, and longer term energy efficiency strategies, and staff, membership, and board development and transition planning. Some of these things were followed up over the last few months and are described in other sections of this report. Other things will be passed on to the new board to help give some direction for the coming year. We will also continue the new tradition of doing an orientation for the new board, at which time we will communicate about ongoing initiatives and plans that they should be aware of.
This year we struck two committees to review the Organizational Bylaws and the Occupancy Bylaws. Both committees got through the whole bylaws and gave questions to Ann to consider when updating the bylaws. Ann is in the process of reviewing the progress on the bylaws, and they should be ready for a vote at the next General Members Meeting in the winter.
The board wanted to recognize that there has been an amazing increase in members getting involved in co-op projects over the last year, and it is really great to see. Members revitalized the vegetable garden and kept it going all summer, including harvesting and providing food in the lobby. A new tradition was also started of co-op members organizing special dinners or brunches to celebrate holidays, in which all members are welcome to participate. Still other members have been helping with the recycling days by going around to buildings to collect recycling and ensure it gets in the right bins. And finally, Helping Hands has really taken off, with many members volunteering to support their neighbours in a wide range of ways, including taking them to appointments, getting groceries or running other errands, and even collectively making soup for members who could use an extra meal.. Of course all of this has happened with the support and direction of staff, so to both members and staff, the board would like to offer our heartfelt thanks for making this co-op feel so much like a home.
Thanks so much to everyone for making this an amazing year at DFC.