May 2017 Board of Directors and AGM Update
Annual General Meeting
We were pleased to welcome 60 people to our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on May 6 at Naramata Centre. Of those, 40 were voting members of the society. For the first time, we had three proxy votes carried by members in attendance. At the AGM, we passed changes to our bylaws that bring us in line with United Church of Canada policies.
e AGM, Board members Jeremy Church and Amanda Robertson stepped down due to their other commitments. We express our deep gratitude to them for their work on the Board. They have each contributed in many ways. Some highlights include Jeremy's participation in program development and playing a lead role in summer 2016, and Amanda's work in helping to develop many of our policies and HR practices, as well as her contributions to our business planning. Jeremy and Amanda -- thank you! W
e will miss you.
We welcomed three new Board members:
(Surrey, BC) Barb had previously joined the Board in an interim board appointment and has now been elected to a three-year term. With Barb's extensive background in the financial industry and her CPA designation, she will be a key lead in our financial planning.
(Calgary, AB) One of our under-30 board members, Daniel brings a business perspective to the Board and his lifelong relationship with the Centre.
(Oliver, BC) Glen brings experience in senior management roles with the United Church and provincial government, and in construction and public consultation.
As you know, your annual membership expires after the AGM and needs to be renewed each year. We had a number of members do so at the AGM. To provide some extra incentive, all those who register as members for this year will have their names entered into a draw for a three-night stay at the Centre, as well as prizes from local restaurants and wineries. Learn more here . The draw for this prize will be held in late August.
Telephone registration now available for programs
If you are thinking of registering for a program this year, we are making it easier to do so if you are challenged by, or having difficulties, registering online. (Find our program calendar here.) Accommodation spaces are booking up for July and August, so book your programs soon!
Starting May 15th, we will be accepting phone registrations between the hours of 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. To register by telephone, please call 250-496-5751 and leave a message if necessary.
Hearts and Hands
Our Spring Hearts and Hands volunteer event was in full swing the weekend of the AGM. We had nearly 30 volunteers getting the Centre ready for the coming season. Thanks to all our volunteers - we could not operate without you!
We have new staff in a place to manage the Centre, and we welcome Gwen Dell'Anno, our manager and Fara Enquist, assistant manager. Both bring extensive experience running camps and accommodations. Continuing with the Centre are Mike McLary (maintenance), Marianne Lummin (bookkeeper) and Romaine Irish (Administrative Coordinator). Our staff looks forward to welcoming you this summer.
Business plan decisions
In March 2017, the Board of Directors presented our revised business plan to BC Conference. The plan includes a move toward repayment of our debt to the conference and includes the following key assumptions:
- The Centre needs to be smaller to reflect demand, reduce fixed costs and have year-round sustainability.
- Capital needs to be raised through surplus land sales to make improvements and pay off debt.
- Additional funds, beyond those through sale of land, will need to be raised for further improvements, including more suitable facilities to meet our future needs.
- The new programming model will continue to be refined as it lowers risk and cost to the Centre and maximizes partnerships with individuals, groups and local providers.
- Our operational model will incorporate volunteers and paid staff.
- It is critical to grow our attendance to our proposed new capacity for spring, summer and fall, without incurring further debt.
We are very grateful to BC Conference for the substantial loan provided in 2014 and 2015, which allowed us to develop a plan for the future. Without that loan, the Centre could not continue to operate.
BC Conference has also generously provided an annual grant in lieu of interest on the loan. As paying the interest on the loan is a significant sum annually, our plan is to pay off the loan over time.
The Centre has many acres of land and buildings in various states of repair and the size of the Centre creates significant operating costs that must be covered. Having fewer acres would require less maintenance, and better fit our registration requirements as the Centre no longer hosts large conferences.
Our plan is to sell surplus land to raise funds to:
- Enhance some existing buildings,
- Update the septic system,
- Remove buildings that are at the end of their service life,
- Pay down some of the debt to BC Conference.
In both our own historical analysis of the Centre's financial viability and an independent review by Colliers, the major negative factors consistently impacting the financial performance of the Centre are the under-utilization of the assets, particularly in winter; the imbalance of sporadic, cyclical revenue generation; and a fixed annual cost structure.
We believe by creating a smaller footprint we can reduce our costs with a size of operations that fits the demand in today's world.
The land we will sell includes:
- The lots where the playground is located, across from McLaren Hall,
- The land below the chapel where the former lower orchard was located, as long as the future use is compatible with the Chapel and Sacred Garden,
- The land and buildings in the area where the Maple Courts and Cottage Court are located.
Over the next five years, the capital raised through land sales will be used to:
- Enhance the campgrounds,
- Refurbish and enhance Alberta Hall,
- Redevelop the Loft as program and office space,
- Upgrade the septic system,
- Take down McLaren and Columbia Halls.
We recognize that the Naramata community uses Columbia Hall occasionally and the loss of the space would leave the Village without a large gathering space. We are interested in a conversation with various groups in the community about a shared building built on Centre land, with shared capital and operating costs. We believe either the land in front of McLaren or Columbia would be suitable for this purpose.
We are excited about the potential this plan holds and will be sharing more details with you at each step along the way.
We appreciate all the ways you demonstrate your support - through your membership in the Society, your encouragement, your volunteer activities and your financial donations. Thank you!
We ask for your support in one additional way. With a viable and robust business plan now in place, we believe we are setting Naramata Centre on more solid ground for the future. But, that future must include active participation by our supporters. We ask that you participate at the Centre - come this year and take a program, book accommodations and renew your community ties with other Naramata Centre supporters and members. Together, we can ensure a healthy future for this place that has nurtured generations.
Chair, Naramata Centre Society Board of Directors