St.Joseph's Church basement, Kingsbridge
November 25, 2000
Facilitator: Dave Cooper
This meeting was called to develop direction and next steps for the Association. Twenty-seven people attended representing 16 different associations along the Ashfield and Colborne lakefront.
Minutes are being distributed by e-mail or regular mail to everyone who attended. As well copies will be going to some others who were unable to attend the meeting because of other commitments, but have indicated a strong interest in the association moving forward. I am also taking the liberty of making some implementation recommendations for your approval (or not). My apologies for some of the detail, but I hope it is enough to create a working level picture of how the organization, relationships between roles, and the communication flow. This also is a work in progress - we don't have all the answers, and there will course be corrections and changes. It is a reflection of what (I think) we know at this time!
The consensus view was that we should continue the momentum of the association which started several years ago as the Ashfield Lakefront Association, and expand it to include Colborne. Some reasons for this were: our common interest in key issues, the opportunity for information sharing and synergy, the influence of a larger more cohesive association, and the alignment with the newly amalgamated municipality of Ashfield-Colborne-West Wawanosh. (See Appendix A, "Why Continue").
I recommend we temporarily call ourselves the Ashfield-Colborne Lakefront Association (ACLA for short). It is possible the new municipality will want to consider a new identity.
An example might be NorthWestHuron. If a new municipal identity occurs, we should revisit the name issue. (Regarding the sequence AC versus CA, it probably doesn't matter either way…. I picked that sequence because it was in alphabetical order, and Ashfield was the founding association). Some also feel that term "lakefront" isn't appropriate -- ie, our members aren't necessarily on the lakefront, but back from it, and the name should reflect everyone. There isn't any agreement on a replacement term. Let's use ACLA and revisit it at a later date.
We discussed 2 alternative organizational structures. The first was a traditional structured approach with various officers such as President, VP, etc. That happens to be the current structure of the ALA. The second was a more flexible team-based approach based on Team Leaders and team volunteers at the ACLA level supporting an active network of Communication Coordinators representing each member association.
The group recommended Team-Based approach. It offers the advantage of flexibility to form and rearrange teams under Team Leaders to meet changing objectives. As well, it provides a level of backup and continuity capability, and allows people to participate in various ways based on their changing interests and availability. It should allow more people to participate and contribute at the ACLA level, rather than relying on the effort of a few members. Hopefully the Team based approach will overcome the difficulty we have found with the traditional approach of finding people who want to undertake the considerable burden of the various officer positions.
We should take advantage of e-mail as a tool given the volume of communication that would take place, the number of people that need to be communicated to, and the geographical dispersion of our members. As well, we should use an existing web-site and practical experience to organize, store, and communicate information. Basic skills to be able to use e-mail and access the Internet are essential for lakefront Communication Coordinators, Team Leaders on the ACLA, and the 2 Team Leader Coordinator(s). In most cases, Team Members should be able to contribute quite effectively without having e-mail capabilities (small group can use phone or regular mail as an option, Team Leader can pass on information by e-mail).
The FOUR key roles for this Team-Based approach would be as follows.
The CC would be the primary contact for each Beach Association or group. If there are 30 Member Associations, then there would be 30 Communication Coordinators. As a group, they will form the foundation for the success of the ACLA. (Ideally, there would be an informed contingency backup to the CC in the Member Association to ensure continuity). Given the reliance on electronic communications (to the ACLA and members who have e-mail) the CC would have regular access to e-mail and be familiar with accessing the Internet.
The main responsibility of the CC will be to act as a "communications bridge", ensuring information flows from the ACLA to the members of that association (by e-mail, regular post, handout, or at annual association meetings). The other role would be to help provide appropriate Member Association feedback to the ACLA Team Leaders. Each CC would be supported by and work closely with their Member Association executives. The CC could be, but does not necessarily have to be a member of the Member Association executive. That is a Member Association decision.
The Team Leader as a member of the ACLA umbrella group would lead a team of Team Members (team size would vary) to address a particular objective(s). The Team Leader would be responsible for:
Given the heavy reliance on electronic communications, the Team Leader should have regular access to-mail and be familiar with accessing the Internet. Ideally, one member of the team would be prepared to assume the Team Leader role if the need arose, even if on a temporary basis.
Because the various project initiatives will often relate to or impact one another Team Leaders and Team Leader Coordinators should openly copy and share information to keep each other fully informed.
The role of the Team Leader Coordinator is to:
The TLC may also be one of the Team Leaders or a Team Member on one of the teams. Regular access to e-mail and the Internet is a requirement. There should be an informed backup to the TLC in order to ensure continuity is maintained.
Team Members come from the membership at large. They also could be someone who is a CC, TM, or TLC. While access to e-mail and the Internet may be helpful, it may not be a requirement. Interest and enthusiasm in making a contribution to the team objectives is the main requirement.
Starting with a couple of basic assumptions, I'll use an example to illustrate how the decentralized communication process would work. Then, some further discussion expands on the basic assumptions. It should be fairly easy to start the process, and then resolve problems and make course adjustments as we move forward.
All of the above things are fairly simple and straightforward to do, and once done very easy to update.
An E-mail giving the details of the election results is forwarded the day after the election to the Team Leader Coordinator by someone who picked up the election results at the Township Office. As well, the E-mail is forwarded to the web-site administrator to post on the web-site.
The Team Leader Coordinator quickly prepares a high level summary of the results, votes by candidate, Candidates elected, percentage turnout and e-mails the summary to the 30 lakefront Communication Coordinators (including mentioning that further information is being posted on the web-site).
The 30 lakefront Communication Coordinators simply use their e-mail distribution list to mail the summary on to their association members. Members are also made aware further details are posted on the web-site.
The lakefront Communication Coordinators also print out a copy of the summary information (or puts in an electronic file for later retrieval). Later, the CC would have paper copies made, and distribute the information to those within the association who did not have e-mail (by hand or by Canada Post).
It is that simple, and in most cases, the election results would be distributed to all of our members who have e-mail within a couple of days. Printed copies would go out at the discretion of the Communications Coordinator who will have to batch and manage printing/mailing costs and effort. The same basic model for the communication process could be used to inform members on relevant information available on a variety of web-sites. It could also be used to publish and distribute a smaller newsletter. It will be up to us collectively to manage the relevance and volumes of information sent to our members. People could get turned off if we try and overload them with information.
We have a web-site (www.northwesthuron.com) that will continue to be developed, enabling us to post a variety of more detailed information. We also monitor and are quite aware of other web sites (e.g. ALERT/PROTECT) on intensive livestock operations; Huron County Health lake quality testing results posted throughout the summer; etc… etc) that contain information relevant to member interests.
The ACLA web-site will not be used to collect and manage contact information (e.g. for postal mailing, e-mail, or phone purposes). In discussions subsequent to the Nov 25 meeting, we learned this is a more difficult development application, and we don't want to undertake it at this time. To be useful, functional capabilities such as address labels by member association, contact information printouts etc. would have to be provided. Besides, there is some question as to whether a large central database of contact information is needed if we adopt a decentralized model for the distribution of information (i.e. through the lakefront Communication Coordinators who maintain their association contact information).
It is doubtful that we will want to undertake a massive newsletter such as the one issued prior to the recent municipal election. It was a major undertaking to assemble, edit, print, and distribute, and required a large effort by a few people. It also was a very high cost effort ($900) for which funding had to be found. Information changes quickly. For example, after the election people wanted to know the results, or shortly, we should know the result of the Country Pork court challenge to the Ashfield Interim Moratorium (fyi, the judge hasn't ruled yet). It seems more appropriate to have shorter and more frequent communications delivered at the discretion of the lakefront Communication Coordinators to meet their members needs.
About 50% of our members along the lakefront will likely have access to e-mail as well as the Internet.
It is an opportunity to quickly communicate news bulletins or even 1 or 2 page newsletters at a very low cost. E-mail can also be used to point out the existence of some new relevant information available at web sites. Each year the percentage of people with electronic access grows. We should begin developing our ability to effectively take advantage of this medium.
While we should use technology to communicate electronically, 50 % of our members will not have access to these capabilities. It is important that they also be kept informed. The reality is they may not receive information with the same frequency or be able to access further detail like those with electronic access. This is simply because of practical considerations such as printing and distribution costs. However, everyone should see improved information from current levels.
The decentralized model for distributing information is more flexible. There is information that might be more relevant to a particular member association that isn't of interest to the others. The lakefront Communication Coordinator can decide what is relevant to the members and pass information on (or not) based on members interests and needs. As well the Communication Coordinator can initiate the distribution of information specific to that association (e.g. calling their annual business meeting or distributing minutes of the same). Associations will have the ability to set their own balance between the needs for communication and the costs of doing it. Some may want to have more communications and spend more to do it. Others may not. Member associations will have choices versus one-size-fits-all. This model distributes and shares the responsibility for getting information out to residents, and member associations then assume their own resulting cost burden.
Each lakefront member association Communication Coordinator thus becomes a combination editor and distribution point for information passed on to their association. Recognizing this, those providing information for possible distribution can be of significant help by doing an effective job of ensuring relevant content, maximum readability and optimal length. We don't want to burden 30 Communication Coordinators with doing major editing work. For example, we will need to develop a simpler high-level description of the ALCA organization and communication process that could be passed on to individual members. This working-level picture contained in these minutes for our use is too detailed.
Each Communication Coordinator will maintain a contact list of postal addresses and phone numbers etc for his members. This can be used to print envelopes or envelope labels. It would probably make sense to segregate this information into those that have e-mail and those who don't (to avoid a postal mailings to those who have already received the info by e-mail). As well the Communication Coordinator will have an Address Book group for the members within their particular association who have e-mail.
Adopting the decentralized communications approach will reduce central ACLA funding requirements. There will be costs for business meetings, the web-site, perhaps an annual general information meeting, some postage, printing and supplies. But, because most of the ALCA communication will be done electronically, there won't be large printing/postage costs such as would be incurred for a major large central newsletter mailing. I don't think we know what our costs will be yet, and we already have some funds to work with. I'm guessing a funding formula such as "$1.00 per member with a minimum of $15 per member association or group" might evolve once we get further along. The formula is similar to what we have now ($15.00 per member association) with the change being to ask larger groups to pay a little more. With several hundred members, we would bring in more than $700 per year, which could be more than adequate. There isn't much point in collecting significantly more than we need to operate. It's not something we need to worry about now. We can come back to it once we have a better idea on membership, operating costs, and whether the decentralized communications approach is agreed to and working.
We didn't have time to discuss this at our meeting. I'll talk about it briefly, and ask that you provide some directional feedback.
Last year, the ALA ran a public information meeting at the Kingsbridge Church on Sat July 1. We filled the Church basement with about 200 attending. This was an information sharing meeting, not a business meeting. The agenda included such items as: an update on Intensive Livestock Operations; progress on new Provincial legislation; a review of the mail-in vote process (at the time not approved); a review of the assessment base/taxes collected/mill rates from the 3 wards within the new community, a lakewater quality review, and a presentation from the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority. Audience feedback indicated the meeting was very informative. Those of us involved felt it was very successful.
I recommend we consider doing it again in 2000. There will be a variety of topics to talk about including what changed from last year (or not, and why). There will also be new topics (e.g. well water distribution systems). It would be a chance to meet the new Council, and for them to meet us, and talk about plans that will impact or serve us. The other advantage of this type of information meeting is that each member lakefront association doesn't have to replicate trying to put on the information i.e. each of you can focus on a short association business meeting and we collaborate on a meeting to put out information of common interest. The final advantage is that it might promote those beach areas that aren't organized to do so, or those hesitant about being a part of the ACLA to join.
The first decision is whether to do it. If the answer is YES, then the next issue is where to do it. The Kingsbridge Church basement will not be large enough -- it only holds 200. With some promotion of the event, we could very easily have 300 or probably more attending in 2001. There aren't a lot of facilities of this size that are in close proximity and central to the lakefront. Father Harry indicated he would be willing to approach the Church Council about using the upstairs of the Church (holds about 500). It has been done for other groups. The next issue is when to do it. We should agree on a Saturday date (June 30 or July 7) and time (10:00 to 12:00) and make a request to reserve the upstairs of the Church. That firms up a date/time/place, and allows arrangements with presenters to proceed. As well, it helps to get the information out to members early to get the date in their calendars.
The final step would be to set up a small team to organize, develop an agenda and manage the meeting. A number of us will have ideas and contacts that we could forward to the team. The problem will be more one of containing the agenda and time to 2 hours than having anything to talk about.
I personally happen to believe it would be a good idea. It is only one opinion. It is much easier to arrange facilities, presenters, and promotion activities if the decision to go ahead is made earlier. However, the decision to go ahead (or not), and some people to make it happen, is up to us to initiate as a group.
The following project teams were set up. Team Leaders will be responsible for further planning and follow-up with the Team Members. To help with overall coordination, I suggest the following:
We should consider whether we should have another brief ACLA meeting in May to review plans and progress, set direction and next steps, resolve issues etc.
Team Leader Coordinators: -- Dave Cooper, Mike McElhone.