On March 15th, 2020, by provincial health order, the Centre completely closed as the Covid health emergency took hold. Had it been any other year, the freshly minted Board (from the February AGM), would have begun the job of assigning directors to various committees, reviewing budgets and dealing with daily issues and events. But timing is everything. Committees, along with most other aspects of operational board matters, were not to be a part of this year.

In pre-pandemic years, some directors wore many hats over the course of their annual term. Up to 12 committees operated, providing monthly progress updates at Board meetings. These updates were often very detailed, leading to extended discussions around the minutia of each committee concern. Board meetings turned into 3+ hour marathons producing few tangible results. Such was the way for an Operational Board.

As the closure dragged on and the pandemic deepened, your President invited a few willing members to assist with steering the Centre through these uncharted waters. From this, focus groups sprouted. Unlike committees, these focus groups were challenged with specific tasks to determine “how to” restart each aspect of operations at the Centre. Once each task was completed, task forces were disbanded.

During the shutdown, directors delved deep into matters that had previously gone unattended. Doing so revealed significant shortcomings in operational and accounting practices that had evolved into accepted “norms.” Bringing these practices up to generally accepted standards has been challenging. The first step in addressing these issues was the appointment of a contracted bookkeeper who, in consultation and agreement with a certified accountant, made changes to the daily bookkeeping systems and procedures. There will be a need for significant additional as-yet unbudgeted expenses in the coming months and years to ensure all systems are appropriately managed. As we plan and determine potential costs, we will share those details and how they may impact future operations—our hope is to have these plans in place for consideration at the February 2021 AGM.

Without daily operations filling their days, members of your Board have turned their attention from daily operations to Governance. With an ever-expanding slate of activities and the challenges uncovered during the shutdown, it has become clear that your Board needs to focus on long-term planning and leave to others the matters of day-to-day operation. To achieve this goal, a qualified Centre manager was hired to consolidate previously inconsistent management, caused at least in part, to the nature of annual board changes. That new manager has brought competent, centralized authority, control and accountability. As the re-opening takes form, processes are being created, streamlined and/or deleted. Adjustments are being made as required, and there is a single voice to speak for the Centre as issues arise.

In 18 months, the Centre has been fundamentally restructured. More importantly, the Centre has reopened to members. We’ve undoubtedly encountered challenges along the way—and there will be more. But, I hope you can begin to see what we are trying to achieve and the progress being made to evolve into a better, more sustainable operation. It may not be crystal clear, but many of you are pleased with where we are on that path. The future is bright as the Centre continues evolutionary adaptations to the “new reality.”

Chris Kane