David Dodge, EFCL District B

David Dodge EFCL Past President and past district rep for Lago Lindo, Kilkenny, McLeod, Evansdale, Northmount, Londonderry, Steele Heights, Balwin, Killarney, Delwood, Glengarry, Rosslyn, Belvedere community leagues in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Rob Agostinis

Monday, December 2, 2013

EFCL November Board Meeting Notes

It's been very busy getting back into the swing of things as your Londonderry District B representative at the EFCL.

The EFCL November Board meeting was held on Nov. 14 and although the meeting's agenda seemed light the meeting went well on into the evening! 
Download the EFCL November Board Package here.

There are three significant initiatives I am excited about with enormous potential to enliven and enrich the community league movement in Edmonton:

The Winter Cities Council 

Isla Tanaka at the Winter Cities
presentation at the EFCL Leagues
Alive Conference in November.
I sit as an EFCL representative on the Winter Cities Council a hybrid council of the administration and City Council and the idea is quite simply to help us have more fun with winter as a city, as community leagues and as residents of the mostly northerly big city in North America. I also hosted a session by Susan Holdsworth, Winter Cities Coordinator, on Winter Cities at the EFCL Leagues Alive Conference. It was a big hit.
Jason Watt of McLeod at Leagues
People from communities are very excited about the idea of upping our game significantly when it comes to winter festivals and the involvement of community leagues in innovative and engaging ideas to rock winter. I and the co-chair of the Winter Cities Life stream that is working on ideas like creating a guide to rocking winter based on best practices from around the world and the idea of combining the community leagues 50-60 winter carnivals with some of the bigger winter events to someday host a massive Edmonton Winter Festival, of which community events are a central component. A number of folks stepped forward to say they want to help. We are working on how to proceed now!

Civic Engagement Strategy On The Agenda For Next General Meeting

Elaine Solez (EFCL planner), Councillor Ben Henderson,
David Gibbens (EFCL past president),
Christine Bremner (director), David Dodge (director)
 and Linda Crosby (EFCL staff) at Leagues Alive.
The EFCL has decided to use a key portion of the Feb. 4 general meeting to discuss the civic engagement practices of the federation and its member leagues.  This would include methods the EFCL uses to gather input from the leagues and how this is subsequently presented to the City of Edmonton or other orders of government.  It will also include methods leagues use to gather input from their members, before taking a position on a particular matter.  Examples of relevant issues would include zoning changes, social housing policies, traffic safety and crime prevention, to name four.
The general meeting will be held in Boyle Street Community League’s new hall at 96 Street and 103 A Avenue downtown. 

The idea of the Civic Engagement strategic planning process is quite simply to find new ways for people in community leagues and the leagues and EFCL to engage members and citizens in new and innovative engagement that gets communities a say in the issues that affect our neighbourhoods and in turn have more of an impact on building a better city. Lofty goals yes, but if we have more of a say, then we will accept more responsibility and we will tackle difficult issues and help build a better city. 

This month the Civic Engagement Committee met with Simon Fairbrother the City Manager, Linda Cochrane the General Manager of Community Services and Gary Klassen, General Manager of Sustainable Development (and planning) with City of Edmonton. These are baby steps. At this meeting we shared our  desire to work with the city to have more of a say and help find better solutions to some of our most vexing issues ranging from bike lanes to infill and other issues.

Abundant Communities Pilot Project Grows

Howard Lawrence presenting the Abundant
Communities Initiative at Leagues Alive.
The third big deal is the Abundant Communities Initiative. I also hosted a session by Howard Lawrence and Anne Harvey (CRC) on this amazing initiative that begins by simply engaging deeply with members of the neighbourhood to ask the question what are you involved in, what would you like to be involved in and what gifts you have to share.
The  Abundant Community Initiative, which has been piloted in the Highlands neighborhood this past year, is coming to Oliver, Bannerman and one other, soon-to-selected neighborhood in 2014.
The program is based on the selection of community connectors, usually one per block, who interview people in their area to get a sense of the activities and neighhborhood improvements they would like to see take place.

The progam director then connects people with like interests together, as well as connecting them with the local community league.  The objective is to help people make friends and get involved in activities with their neighbors, which is exactly what community leagues are all about.

John McKnight, a well-known neighborhood activist who helped started the Abundant Community initiative in the United States, is scheduled to give a talk on the movement at the Santa Maria Goretti Centre at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 3. I will be attending.
More Highlights From the November Board Meeting

Good Turnout For League’s Alive

Mayor Don Iveson at the Leagues Alive Conference.
The EFCL wants to thank all of the league reps who braved the winter storm and attended the League’s Alive Board Development Conference at Grant MacEwan University on Nov. 30.  Despite dangerous road conditions, close to 100 members from 57 leagues attended 17 board development the sessions.  LaPerle Community League, with five delegates, took home the $500 popcorn maker for best attendance from a community league.
Delegates also had an opportunity to mix and mingle over lunch with Edmonton’s new mayor, Don Iveson, and councillors Scott McKeen, Ben Henderson, Andrew Knack and Mike Nickel.
Early reports suggest that delegates quite enjoyed the day and found the development sessions most helpful.  A more comprehensive evaluation will be done over the next couple of weeks, in preparation for next year’s event.

EFCL To Make Another Pitch For Green Shack Funding

The  Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues has decided to make another pitch to the provincial government for funding for the city’s Green Shack program, where children from over 100 community leagues are provided with meaningful day camp experiences over the summer months.
Last year the province eliminated funding for the Summer Temporary Employment Program, which many community leagues were using to help pay for a summer camp leader.  The government subsequently provided $150,000 to help ensure that camps continued in high needs parts of the city.  It has made no commitment for 2014.
In addition, the EFCL will be asking Edmonton City Council to approve a request from the Community Services Department for $275,000 in Green Shack funding in 2014.  This money will help bring the program to more neighborhoods.

EFCL Meets with Members of City Council.

Councillor Scott McKeen at Leagues Alive. 
The EFCL has decided to hold a series of one-on-one meetings with members of Edmonton City Council, to pitch our 2014 budget request and to help develop a positive working relationship.
The EFCL has two financial requests before council.  One is for $40,000, to help cover the cost of preparing the federation’s 2014-2018 business plan.  A key part of this plan will be to examine the civic engagement practises of the federation and its member leagues.
The second request is for $600,000, to help cover the cost of the federation’s 100th Anniversary Project in Hawrelak Park.  The EFCL intends to ask both the provincial and federal governments for a similar donation, as soon as the city is on board.

EFCL Assembles League Input on Surplus School Sites

The EFCL has collected a good deal of input from its members on the redevelopment of surplus school sites and will be communicating their concerns and suggestions to the City of Edmonton shortly.  The key points include: 
  • Finding ways to gather the views of all residents of the community, such as a survey sent to each household. The survey would follow public meetings and would include pros and cons of various options.
  • Ensuring community input is sought at all points along the way, including the league’s advice on time, place and format of meetings with the league and community at large.
  • Assisting leagues with getting information to community residents and providing a fair, one-person-one-vote process for determining the will of the community before requesting the league motion to consider re-siting the development.
  • The possibility of considering more than one alternative location (currently only one alternate site can be considered, which may be divisive in communities).
  • Giving appropriate consideration to housing type and to community benefits such as a coffee shop, day care and/or meeting room in the development.
  • Finding ways to improve trust between the City and communities on surplus school sites—some communities are still of the view that their site has been declared surplus to park needs.
  • As a separate process led by Community Services, the City should offer to work with leagues to identify park impacts and how to address them, including ensuring appropriate transitions between the housing development and the park, appropriate park amenities for new residents, e.g., a seniors complex would likely need accessible walkways and benches with arms. This process should take place as soon as the site and housing type are determined.
  • The City has committed to considering the EFCL feedback in finalizing the engagement process that will be piloted with a few surplus school sites in 2014.  Hairsine Community League has already volunteered to be included in the pilot consultation exercise.

New Community League Forming in The Hamptons

The EFCL is pleased to report that a new community league is forming in The Hamptons, a neighborhood in the far west end of the city.
An organizational meeting has been called for Nov. 27, where a group of residents hopes to have the league’s bylaws adopted and an executive elected.
Residents in The Hamptons have been working on the creation of a community league in their area for the past 18 months.  One of the key challenges has been to work out a relationship with the Glastonbury Homeowners Association.  The homeowner association represents residents living in Glastonbury, which is immediately to the north, and in The Hamptons.  To date the association has dealt exclusively with Glastonbury Community League, which has been in business for seven or eight years.
Creation of a new league in The Hamptons will bring the EFCL’s membership to 157, which is an increase of eight leagues in the past six years.

If you have any comments, suggestions or questions please contact me anytime at districtb(at)efcl.org

David Dodge,
Londonderry District B Director
Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues

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