Ottawa Outdoor Club

Minutes - 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Minutes - Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Thursday, 9 November 2017
Sandy Hill Community Centre

Executive present:

  • President Rob Burnfield
  • Treasurer Jane Jiang
  • Secretary Tracey Vansickle
  • Canoeing Coordinator Mike McCurrie
  • Snowshoeing Coordinator Lana Doss
  • Webmaster Rob Burnfield [non-voting]

Absent:

  • Membership Secretary Marion Perry
  • Hiking Coordinator Eddie Drueding
  • Cycling Coordinator Anna Gopenko
  • Social Coordinator Anna Gopenko

Vacant positions: 

  • Vice President
  • Skiing Coordinator
  • Equipment Officer

​[D] indicates that a related document is available.

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) was opened at 7:10pm by President Rob Burnfield, who introduced the members of the current executive who were present; Sam Ludmer, the OOC newsletter editor; past club president John Galbraith (who holds club membership card #1); and member John Harrison (who gave excellent presentations on the geology of this region at last year’s AGM and a follow-up event).

  1. Quorum verification (Tracey Vansickle) – Quorum for 240 members = 12. In attendance were 14 members and 3 non-members; 4 members arrived later.

  2. Approval of agenda [D] (Rob Burnfield) – Rob provided a quick on-screen overview of the proposed agenda. Mike McCurrie moved that the agenda be adopted; the motion was seconded by John Harrison and passed unanimously.

  3. Approval of minutes of 2016 AGM [D] (Tracey Vansickle) - Rob presented last year’s draft minutes on screen; Jennifer Jackson moved that the minutes be accepted; the motion was seconded by John Harrison and passed unanimously.

  4. President’s report [D] (Rob Burnfield) – Rob reminded everyone that the bedrock of the club is its people – volunteers who coordinate and lead activities; those who participate in them; and those responsible for the day-to-day administration that keeps the club functioning.

Rob highlighted several initiatives that the club has been undertaking: subsidized buses for long-distance day outings; a venture to introduce recent immigrants to the club’s activities; and planning an increased number of multi-day outings within Canada (at present, the two longstanding annual long-weekend hiking trips are to the USA). He asked that anyone who is interested in working on the latter two initiatives please contact him (president@ottawaoutdoorclub.ca). Rob also provided an overview of the club’s liability insurance policies, which cover both executive and activity participants.

  1. Coordinators’ reports

The full coordinators’ reports can be found on the OOC website together with the other AGM documents. Below are summaries.

  • Canoeing [D] (Mike McCurrie) – Due to the lengthy period of hot fall weather (and warm water), the canoe season was extended by several weeks, ending on September 24th after 18 outings, with an average of 10 participants. With temperatures in the low 30s Celsius, attendance that day was the highest of the year, with 32 persons, many of whom were first-timers who thoroughly enjoyed the outing and indicated an interest in trying the canoeing program next year. While day and evening canoeing took place in Gatineau Park lakes or on the Gatineau River at Farm Point in Wakefield, there was a four-day wilderness canoe-camping trip to La Vérendrye nature reserve in September. The club continues to replace missing or damaged equipment, including the purchase of a gravity filtration system for water and a second large dry bag. The canoes remain in good condition with the exception of one requiring repair for a cracked rib. Mike noted that Jim Burgess, whose storage shed the club rents, has asked that organization and maintenance protocols for the shed be enforced – some participants have been haphazardly dumping equipment into it at the end of canoe outings.
  • Cycling [D] (Anna Gopenko) – Rob reported on behalf of Anna, who was absent. Anna’s report indicated that quite a few people who had expressed a willingness to volunteer ultimately did not commit to leading biking trips, and attendance was low on the sporadic outings that occurred. She thanked the handful of people who did lead outings. Rob indicated that maintaining the cycling program has been a challenge the past couple of years so he appreciated that Anna had been willing to take this on. He noted that cycling used to be a very popular activity; however, when not offering outings consistently (e.g., on the same day every week), it is hard to sustain the momentum.
  • Hiking [D] (Eddie Drueding) – Rob presented on behalf of Eddie, who was absent. This year’s hiking season was lengthy, beginning in early April. As of October 29th, there had been 35 regular Sunday hikes, one of which focussed on photography. There were also two bus trips (to Calabogie and Mt. Tremblant) and four long-weekend trips (one each to the Algonquin Park Radio Observatory and Stowe, Vermont, and two to the Adirondacks). For the Sunday hikes, 181 different people attended, with participation ranging from 95 people who attended only one hike, to one person (Bonnie Lalonde), who attended 20. Rob noted that Eddie led the vast majority of these (23), and commended him for having led almost 25o hikes in total with the club.
  • Skiing [D] (Rob Burnfield) – Rob noted that, despite the lack of a coordinator for most of last winter, and therefore less active outreach to find individuals to lead Sunday cross-country ski outings, quite a few day excursions were planned initially. However, the cancellation of 5 scheduled outings due to unfavourable weather/snow conditions, coupled with both Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays, ultimately resulted in only six Sunday outings over the season. In addition, the skiers joined the snowshoers for two full-moon Saturday evening outings to Herridge Shelter in Gatineau Park for a shared potluck feast, and there was good participation in the annual weekend cross-country ski trip to Val David in the Laurentians.
  • Snowshoeing [D] (Lana Doss) – Lana thanked Mike Brown, with whom she had initially been program co-coordinator, for all of his assistance. The season got off to an early start on November 26th, exactly a month earlier than the previous year. Despite extreme weather, from ice storms to -40oC temperatures to significant rain, only 2 events were cancelled, and outings took place almost every weekend from January through early April, for a total of 14 single-day events, including 2 well-attended full-moon outings conducted jointly with skiers. For the first time, there was a “skate through the forest” outing with optional snowshoe in Lac-des-Loups, and there were 2 full-weekend events – a ski trip in the Laurentians with self-organized snowshoeing, and a trip to Algonquin Eco-Lodge. Lana hopes to arrange outings for at least every Saturday in the 2017-2018 season, including a few intro-to-snowshoeing sessions, as well as 2 weekend trips. In order to do so, a good number of leaders will be needed, and Lana encourages people to volunteer early to get their choice of dates. She encourages people to lead some easy activities as comments on the website indicate that numerous people are interested in basic outings.

Question: A member asked whether the OOC offers skating.
Answer: Rob confirmed that that club regularly arranges evening skating outings on the Rideau Canal, and will attempt to again organize a group skate at the residence of the Governor General (selection is by lottery so availability is not guaranteed). In addition, he indicated that use of the Ottawa City Hall outdoor rink is under consideration (in light of how briefly the canal was open last year) and that the availability of this year’s Canada 150 rink on Parliament Hill would be explored.

Question: A member asked whether the club does winter camping.
Answer: Rob indicated that it has been done in the distant past, although not recently, but noted that Xuan Qi had expressed interest in possibly organizing such an outing this coming winter.

  • Social [D] (Anna Gopenko) – Rob reported on behalf of Anna, who was absent. Quite a few social events were planned this past year, including bowling, movies, restaurant meals, a potluck lunch hike, the Mackenzie King Estate flower show, badminton, beach volleyball, and BBQs. In response to low attendance at social events, the Executive agreed to an interim proposal to treat social events as promotional activities for recruitment of new members to the club. A decision was taken to advertise the club’s social events through the OOC website and social media (Facebook); in the past, this was limited by bylaw to internal advertising such as the newsletter. By recent executive resolution, a temporary amendment was added to the bylaws to permit the club’s social events to be advertised publicly; this amendment was  presented later at the AGM for permanent ratification or rejection by the membership.
  1. Equipment Officer's report – This position remains vacant. Rob Burnfield indicated that a partial inventory of canoeing equipment was completed earlier this year but some additional work needs to be done. Lana recently updated the snowshoe inventory. [D] The coordinators of both of these programs continue to repair and replace equipment as required.

  2. Membership Secretary’s report [D] (Marion Perry) – Rob presented on behalf of Marion, who was absent. A complete breakdown of membership statistics from 2014 to 2017 is found in the tables contained in Marion’s report on the website. Following are some key numbers.

For the 2017 membership year, the club had 240 members, an increase over both 2014 and 2015 but a decline of 10% from 2016. Marion had earlier indicated to the executive that membership numbers were consistent with those of the previous year until spring, following which they failed to keep pace. Marion attributed this to the fact that the region saw little summer (i.e., neither dry nor warm) weather this year, which likely discouraged people from participating in outdoor activities during that period.

The largest cohort of members (21%) was the 49-to-56-years age group, with 48% of members younger and 31% older than that. The greatest increases were in the smaller 18-24 and 65-or-older brackets, both of which almost doubled in the past year.

The push to encourage people to use electronic means to apply for membership in order to reduce administrative costs and processing times seems successful. The majority of 2017 memberships (94%) were registered online and 90% were paid via PayPal. Marion’s report thanked Ronalee Carey for having volunteered to take on the duties of completing and mailing the membership cards for the past year.

Question: A member enquired about whether the club tracks the number of visitors who become members after participating in an outing.

Answer: Rob indicated that those numbers aren’t specifically tracked but that it is possible to extrapolate roughly through membership payments from which non-member activity fees that have been paid in the previous week have been deducted (non-member fees paid more than a week prior don’t impact membership fees).

  1. Webmaster’s report [D] (Rob Burnfield) – Rob emphasized how fundamental the webmaster’s role is to the functionality of other executive positions and to the membership – for instance, ensuring that activity schedules are updated in a timely manner; resolving technical issues with the newsletter; maintaining up-to-date membership email lists; managing and monitoring the club’s Internet presence, etc. Rob expressed particular gratitude for the supportive relationships that he has had with Marion Perry, the outgoing membership secretary; with Sam Ludmer, the newsletter editor; and with John Galbraith, who generously stepped in to replace Sam during his absences.

Rob provided an overview of OOC website usage statistics. He noted a decline in visitors to the website, but significant gains in people joining the OOC Facebook group in the past two years, as well as growing engagement between Facebook members. Advance Facebook posting of planned outings by leaders combined with follow-up photos and comments by participants seem to be increasing numbers in those activities.

Rob reminded members that the club also has a Twitter feed, to which anyone can post by including the hashtag #ottawaoutdoorclub. While Twitter has been employed by some leaders to post last-minute updates (such as those related to weather), and by a few to post photos of recent outings (he thanked Ronalee Carey for her numerous posts and photos related to recent trips), it is only being used occasionally, and Rob urged all activity coordinators to encourage trip leaders to take advantage of its existence.

For those leading trips, Rob indicated that shared car-pooling rates had been updated on the website to include all of the parking lots in Gatineau Park. He noted that calculating specific rates for lots closest to Ottawa (such as P1 and P2) means that participants will pay lower car-pooling fees (e.g., $1 and $2 respectively) than when one rate was used for a cluster of parking lots. He hopes to calculate standard rates for other areas of Ottawa, such as for outings in the Greenbelt.

Rob has reconfigured, and plans to use, the nearly dormant News and Policy Updates page on the website in order to provide members with key information from the executive.

  1. Training report (Lana Doss) – Lana, who is a certified instructor with Hike Ontario, provided a one-day Certified Hike Leader training course on September 23, 2017 for a mix of experienced and potential OOC leaders. The following week, past President John Galbraith presented a morning session, open to all members, on organizing and leading an OOC outing, geared specifically to the club’s procedures and policies. Good feedback was received from participants of both sessions, so it is anticipated that the program will be offered again, possibly next spring. For questions or to express interest, contact Lana by email at snowshoe@ottawaoutdoorclub.ca.

  2. Treasurer’s report [D] (Jane Jiang) – Jane explained that the format of the financial report was changed slightly this year. For example, several fees were broken out separately for transparency: PayPal fees were identified and included in administration costs; rental income for snowshoes and canoes were broken out from non-member fees.  Jane started using a duplicate cheque book as of this year; while this increased the cost to purchase cheques, it ensures that the treasurer has a copy of every cheque written.  The previous year’s updated insurance policy increased costs substantially (by $1500) and represents about 37% of total expenditures. An additional $500 was allocated to transportation costs in order to subsidize a second group bus trip, resulting in an overall budget deficit: total income was $9,225 and total expenditures were $11,504.20, creating a deficit of $2,279.20.

Question: A member requested an explanation of the group travel subsidies.

Answer: Rob explained that the club had subsidized part of the bus rental costs for two long-distance hiking day-trips (at Mt. Tremblant and Calabogie), at approximately $25 per person. This was first done in 2016, after former President Jean-Françcois Lauzon recommended subsidies for day hike trips that are not feasible for regular car-pooling distances. One trip was held in 2016 as a trial and was fully booked. For this year, both buses were full early on and had a waiting list. Rob noted that people had really enjoyed the trips and there was great camaraderie among participants. Club secretary Tracey Vansickle provided additional background, explaining that the idea arose because the club had “planned deficits” for several years to try to get within the budget reserve amounts stipulated by the club’s bylaws - according to which, the club’s reserve fund should be no less than 80% and no more than 160% of the last 3 years’ average income. For the past couple of fiscal years, the reserve was several thousand dollars too high. To reduce it, additional monies were allocated to advertising and to group trip subsidies. Tracey noted that, moving forward, due to increased costs, especially insurance, there will not be as much flexibility in the budget and it may not be possible to continue to subsidize group travel.

Question: A member enquired whether the 80-160% reserve requirement relates to Revenue Canada limits, noting that there are such limits for non-profit organizations.

Answer: Rob explained that we are not a registered/incorporated not-for-profit organization as per Revenue Canada definition. He asked past President John Galbraith to explain the background to this requirement. John indicated that, by the third year of the club’s existence, it had built up a large cash reserve. Following discussions, a constitutional change was made stipulating that the club had to keep a certain balance as a reserve fund (essentially, to cover a year’s costs if there is no income) but that the remainder of the funds had to be expended by the club.

Question: A member enquired about the source of rental income.

Answer: Jane explained that it comprises the rental of canoes by non-members and snowshoe rental by members and non-members.

  1. Presentation of and vote on 2017-2018 budget [D] (Rob Burnfield)

Postage costs were separated from post-office-box rental fees under administration costs.

Rob explained that, contrary to recent years, the proposed 2017-2018 budget would  result in a reserve that is below the 160% maximum. A predicted $4,050 deficit will create a forecasted reserve of $1,000 above the 80% minimum by the end of the year.  Income predictions were calculated at approximately 85% of the 2016-2017 income. Nonetheless, income from membership fees is forecasted to be higher than the previous year because the executive is proposing a $40 membership fee this year (every $5 fee increase results in approximately $1,000 in revenue to spend).

It is anticipated that there will be a maximum 10% increase in insurance costs; the executive will begin negotiation of new rates with the insurance agent in the coming months.

Question: A member asked whether the executive believed that $350 would realistically cover sufficient advertising to make a difference.

Answer: Rob noted that, although there have been no advertising and printing expenditures in the last two years, $350 has been budgeted for the coming year, should the club wish to print brochures to put in outdoor stores.

Question: A member asked whether the executive would consider paying for targeted Facebook ads to recruit new members.

Answer: Lana indicated that she knows someone who does this type of work and that Facebook ads could be produced at nominal cost. Rob mentioned that the idea of newspaper ads had been investigated in the past, but it would cost a lot of money.

The executive will be trying to keep the costs for the annual volunteer recognition dinner to around the same amount as the past year. The forecast for the annual members’ BBQ has been reduced to match the actual costs of the September 2017 BBQ.

The training and development budget takes into account that leadership training was taken at the end of the fiscal year. Participants had to pay the upfront costs personally and will only be eligible for reimbursement once they have met the requirements of having led and participated in activities, so those costs have been carried forward to the coming year. Rob noted that there have been member enquiries about the provision of wilderness first-aid training. He explained that the executive is supportive, but that there is a need to do some research – these courses are much costlier, so the club would not be able to afford to provide subsidies for the full amount of the training. He noted that there have also been requests to repeat the Hike Ontario course, so there will have to be discussions regarding where to allocate the training dollars.

Most equipment costs are linked to the canoeing program. “Other equipment” generally relates to snowshoes.

Rob asked that people identify what they would like to see the club doing in the upcoming year and whether they would prefer to have a larger deficit or to increase the membership fees (as currently forecasted).

Question: A member asked if there is an objective or strategy to grow the club (and if so, how large?) or a desire to maintain the status quo and, in the context of advertising possibilities, if there is a sense of what might lead new members to join the club.

Answer: Rob indicated that there is a question on the annual membership application regarding how the person learned about the club, and these statistics are tracked. He noted that some clubs choose to cap their membership and that there is a mix of opinions within the club, but no specific objective or strategy has been established. He noted that a greater number of members would require more people to step forward to lead outings. The benefit of that is that it would allow the club to have multiple outings with different levels of activity on the same day. Conversely, there would be a point where a significantly increased number of members would require a change to the structure of how the club is run (e.g., how outings are run, managing carpooling, etc).

Question: The same member suggested that, when signing up each year, members be asked to provide information on whether they have cars and would be willing to drive.

Answer: Rob noted that the challenge would still be how to ensure that there are sufficient vehicles for the number of participants on each individual outing. While it would be possible to require both drivers and participants to confirm their attendance in advance, he noted that this would require leaders to do much more advance coordination, and would eliminate one of the benefits that some people see in the club – i.e., that they can decide at the last minute whether to participate in an activity because they don’t need to register in advance.

Question: A member asked if would be possible to do activities closer to downtown than Gatineau Park so that cars are not always necessary.

Answer: Rob mentioned that, in addition to evening walks that originate downtown, it was suggested recently by a member that we might want to do a poll of members to see who has canoes they would be willing to bring to do activities closer to downtown (e.g. on the Rideau Canal), which would avoid the time lost in picking up the club’s canoes in Wakefield first.

A member indicated that he is leery of an increase in the membership fee because there are a lot of Meetup groups that could pose competition to the OOC, or people might want to participate in the activities of multiple clubs rather than limiting themselves to one. John Galbraith noted that the club’s biggest budget line items are insurance and storage, expenses that Meetups don’t have. Rob noted that the OOC membership fee was $40 for many years and only dropped to $30 for the past two years in order to reduce the reserve fund. He indicated that, if the membership fee remains at $30, the deficit increases to $6,000, resulting in a significantly lower cash reserve.

Question: A member asked whether the executive was being pessimistic by assuming fewer members next year.

Answer: Rob said that the executive prefers to be conservative in its estimates but hopes/believes that we will have over 200 members, possibly as many as this year.

A member noted that the cost to join the RA Canoe Club is $80 for the first year and $55 each following year, so $40 would still be a competitive fee. A third member indicated that the Ottawa Rambling Club charges $20 and the Rideau Trail Club $25 for one year or $45 for two years. She commented that our fee is a bit higher than the latter two clubs but the OOC offers far more, and year-round, activities. Rob agreed, noting that it is a big draw that the OOC offers numerous activities compared to other groups, and that we have canoes, which most clubs don’t have. Lana noted that, in addition, the OOC membership fee also provides access to carpooling, snowshoes, a free BBQ and volunteer recognition dinner each year, and subsidized group bus trips.

Question: A member asked if the budget could contain some “wiggle room” in order to allow for additional subsidized bus trips, such as caving near Calabogie.

Answer: Rob agreed that bus trips are very popular, but noted that the current budget, even with the return to the $40 fee, does not provide much flexibility.

Another member wondered whether there are promotional items the club could sell to raise funds. Someone commented that there would be a narrow profit margin and a very limited audience, and that it would require that members be willing to try to sell club-related items to others, which may not be palatable.

A member recommended that, given that Ottawa is a very computer-literate city with far more Meetup groups than many other cities – resulting in direct competition with the club, if it is not possible to keep fees at the current rate, a lower fee for renewals could be considered, as could offering a two-year membership at a lower rate. Bonnie Lalonde suggested that the fee be set at $35 to split the difference between last year’s $30 rate and the proposed return to the older $40 fee.

Rob suggested that a $40 fee for new members and a $35 fee if renewing within a reasonable period following the AGM (since memberships for the following year can be purchased shortly thereafter) would result in an increase of $5 for renewing members and $10 for new members.

  1. Presentation and vote on member and non-member fees (Rob Burnfield)

Rob Burnfield moved that the 2017-2018 budget be accepted as is, including charging $40 for membership, with the exception of including a $35 fee for 2017 memberships renewed no later than January 31, 2018. The motion was seconded by Tracey Vansickle and passed with 12 in favour and 2 abstentions.

  1. Election of OOC executive

John Galbraith, a former club President for seven years who also served several other positions on the executive board, took on the role of electioneer.

President: Mike McCurrie nominated incumbent Rob Burnfield. The motion was seconded by Sam Ludmer. No other nominations were put forward. The motion was passed by unanimous vote.

Vice President: John Harrison nominated Sharon Costey. Sharon was not present but had put her name forward prior to the meeting, thereby accepting the nomination in absentia. The motion was seconded by Mike McCurrie. No other nominations were put forward. The motion was passed with 12 in favour, none opposed and 1 abstention.

Treasurer: No nominations were put forward. The position remains vacant.

Secretary: No nominations were put forward. The position remains vacant.

Membership Secretary: Tracey Vansickle nominated Bonnie Lalonde. The motion was seconded by Jennifer Jackson. No other nominations were put forward. The motion was passed by unanimous vote.

Equipment Officer: No nominations were put forward. The position remains vacant.

Hiking Coordinator: Mike McCurrie nominated Eddie Drueding. Eddie was not present but had put his name forward prior to the meeting, thereby accepting the nomination in absentia. The motion was seconded by Jennifer Jackson. No other nominations were put forward. The motion was passed by unanimous vote.

Web Administrator: Jennifer Jackson nominated incumbent Rob Burnfield. The motion was seconded by Mike McCurrie. No other nominations were put forward. The motion was passed by unanimous vote.

Skiing Coordinator: Lana Doss nominated Richard Fernandes. The motion was seconded by Mike McCurrie. No other nominations were put forward. The motion was passed by unanimous vote.

Snowshoeing Coordinator: Bonnie Lalonde nominated Lana Doss. The motion was seconded by Jennifer Jackson. No other nominations were put forward. The motion was passed by unanimous vote.

Canoeing Coordinator: Rob Burnfield nominated incumbent Mike McCurrie. The motion was seconded by Tracey Vansickle. No other nominations were put forward. The motion was passed by unanimous vote.

Cycling Coordinator: No nominations were put forward. The position remains vacant.

Social Coordinator: Rob Burnfield nominated incumbent Anna Gopenko. Anna was not present but had put her name forward prior to the meeting, thereby accepting the nomination in absentia. The motion was seconded by Jennifer Jackson. No other nominations were put forward. The motion was passed by unanimous vote.

  1. Amendments to the OOC Constitution and Bylaws [D] (Rob Burnfield)

Amendment 01 – Prior to the AGM, Rob Burnfield had put forth a proposal that, in Bylaw Article 1, Section 6 - Responsibility of Members, the misspelled word "chid" (due to an oversight in the previous year) be corrected to "child". Rob moved that the proposal be accepted. The motion was seconded by John Harrison and passed unanimously.

Amendment 02 – Prior to the AGM, Anna Gopenko had put forward a proposal that it be permitted for the Club to advertise its social activities to the public at large, not just the OOC membership.

Rob noted that Sam Ludmer had proposed to keep the advertising club-centric. Jennifer Jackson stated that she felt that broadening the advertising would be good for promotion of the club. Rob Burnfield noted that it would be possible to use the coming year as a test and, if external advertising proves to be problematic, vote to cancel it at next year’s AGM.

Rob Burnfield moved that Anna’s proposal be accepted. The motion was seconded by Jennifer Jackson and passed with 10 votes in favour, 2 opposed and 1 abstention.

  1. Other items – No other items were put forward.
  1. End of meeting – Jennifer Jackson proposed that the meeting be concluded at 9:27 pm. Bonnie Lalonde seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.