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Resolutions at CHF Canada’s 2009 annual meeting
Resolution 5: Location of CHF Canada’s annual meetings
MOVED BY: Cole Road Co-operative Community
OUR REASONS FOR THIS RESOLUTION ARE:
WE THINK THAT THIS WILL COST:
CHF Canada staff have indicated that CHF Canada’s 2009 budget is fully committed to existing work. So, the costs of this study will be included in the 2010 budget.
A consultant will be hired to organize and analyze some of the historical financial information needed for the report to members. CHF Canada staff estimate the cost of his/her work at approximately $4,000.
This resolution was adopted by the Board of Directors of the Cole Road Co‑operative Community at their regular meeting held on February 11, 2009.
This resolution has been endorsed by:
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
BOARD OF DIRECTORS COMMENTS:
The board agrees that ways should be explored to help as many member co-ops as possible attend CHF Canada’s annual meeting.
CHF Canada’s annual meeting is a valuable and essential part of members’ experience. It is a large meeting, bringing together nearly 800 people from all over Canada. As in any co-operative, the annual meeting is members’ principal opportunity to exercise their essential role in governance. Since the merger of CHF Canada with the Co-operative Housing Association of Ontario in 1996, this role has extended to the governance of CHF Canada’s Ontario Region.
Today, the annual meeting contains four events:
The annual meeting is by far the largest and most significant face-to-face gathering of housing co-op members and managers. Participants value the annual meeting for the training they receive, the opportunity to set CHF Canada’s policy direction and elect its leadership, and valuable networking with members from all over Canada. CHF Canada’s board and Ontario Council know how important the annual meeting is for sustaining member loyalty, and so we have worked hard to make sure that the annual meeting is a positive experience for all who attend, and that it showcases both members’ and CHF Canada’s achievements and successes. Making sure that the annual meeting is held from time to time in every region is an important goal.
In the past, nearly 40 per cent of CHF Canada’s member co-ops attended the annual meeting. Today, this percentage has fallen to about 35 – although part of the reason is CHF Canada’s rapid member growth. New members do not attend the annual meeting as frequently as long time members.
Rising costs associated with the annual meeting have been a concern for a long time. Until a few years ago, we operated on a “break even” budget, where the costs of the annual meeting (not counting staff time) were recovered through registration fees. For the past ten years, we have worked hard to find revenue, from sponsors and exhibitors for example, to help keep registration fees as low as possible. And, with the Nova Scotia government, we developed a bursary program so that co-ops in that province could afford to attend. We have suggested bursary programs to other governments.
A few years ago, we realized that breaking even was not possible without very high registration fees, so we decided to spend an additional budgeted amount ($75,000 in 2009) on the annual meeting. This money comes from co-ops’ member dues, so it is provided in part by co-ops that do not attend the annual meeting.
We have also streamlined the meeting. Some participants may still remember the days when the national business meeting started late Friday afternoon, continued all day Saturday, and ended at lunchtime on Sunday. In 2009, the national business meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, and is expected to end at 4:30 p.m.
The workshop programs have also been reduced, from an all-time high of some 80 workshops (over three days) to their present 40. This streamlining has focused members’ work on the most important activities, and has been welcomed by participants.
Over the years, both member costs and CHF Canada’s own costs have risen in part because of the rising cost of air travel, and the high rates charged by the hotels and convention centres that have the capacity to host a meeting of our size. In the past, we have looked at less expensive venues, and can do so again.
Air travel has also become an environmental concern, and so for the past few years CHF Canada has purchased offsetting carbon credits for all air travel by elected leaders and staff. We have encouraged member co-ops to do the same.
Naturally, the city in which the meeting is held is an important part of its costs. Partly as a response to rising travel costs, CHF Canada adopted a fixed schedule for locating the annual meeting: central, west, central, east, central, and so on. At the time, CHF Canada’s board considered Ontario cities like Toronto, Hamilton, London and Ottawa as “central”; but so were Montreal, Quebec City, and Winnipeg.
The venue for CHF Canada’s meetings must be arranged years in advance. At the moment, facilities are booked and partly paid for as follows:
So, in the next five years, Ontario members that are willing to spend the time will be able to travel to three annual meetings without air travel. If they travel by air to those meetings, they will be travelling to cities that are closer and therefore less expensive than if more meetings were planned in eastern Canada or the west.
Today, 57 per cent of CHF Canada member co-ops are located in Ontario. The board agrees that, if two of each three annual meetings were held in Ontario, these members would save significantly. However, members in eastern Canada and the west would face higher travel costs. It is reasonable to consider whether Ontario members should contribute to a travel subsidy fund to offset these increased costs, and if so, how much it should be and how it should be allocated.
These matters, as well as others that annual meeting participants might want to address, will be the focus of our work in responding to this resolution, if it is passed.