Community Development Halton moves to an open membership format: a much needed and welcome change.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

October 12th, 2020,

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Community Development Halton (CDH) is not an organization that is immediately recognized when the letters CDH are mentioned.

It is one of a number of non-governmental organizations in place to serve the community.

It relies on public money to exist – most of the funding comes from the Region of Halton and the United Way.

CDH logoLike all the other incorporated not for profit organizations – it holds an annual meeting.

CDH did something startling at its Annual General Meeting earlier this month.

When the province made changes to the Not-For-Profit Corporations Act, many organizations amended their  by-laws, reducing voters to board members only – CDH followed suit a few years ago. However, when the current board reflected on the impact to its transparency and inclusiveness, it voted to reverse the change.  What CDH has done is re-open the organization to membership – which is what elects the Board of Directors that sets policy and direction.

Jan + scarf

CDH president Jan Mowbray.

“They amended the rules related to membership.  There are now two forms of membership: Individual and Organization” explained CDH president Jan Mowbray.

“Organization” means any non-profit or charitable organization; grassroots group, or public or private entity, but does not include a political party or political organization.”

“A member must live or work in the Region; members must pay the membership fee.”

The membership fee structure for individuals has yet to be confirmed – however, the members of the Board pay an annual fee of $100.

“Each individual member and a single representative of a member organization shall be entitled to cast one vote on each question at any Annual General Meeting or Special Meeting, provided that the individual or organization was a member in good standing on December 31 of the prior year and remained so for the period up to and including the date of the Annual General Meeting.”

The AGM is always in September – thus preventing any last minute attempt to add new members and change the direction of the organization.

“Ten percent of the membership can petition the President to call a meeting of the Board.”

“A quorum at an Annual General Meeting shall be more than 10% of CDH members in good standing.”

“A motion or resolution shall be carried if it is approved at an Annual General Meeting by more than 50% of those voting.”

There are far too many organizations in place to serve the city that use the Directors in place as their membership – they keep re-electing themselves or determine who they want to join the Board.  They become the “old boys club”.

This is a very healthy change, hopefully one that will be taken up by other Not-for-Profit organizations with the Sound of Music (SoM) being an organization that needs a change.  There was a time when there were more than 100 SoM members.

In the past far too many NGO’s suspended membership and changed their constitutions to having the members of the Board being the only members who could re-elect themselves at will.

The logic behind changing the rules was that “the board was unanimous in its desire to be completely inclusive and transparent.  When only  the board could vote on an issue, it left our stakeholders with no say at all in an organization that represents all of Halton”, said Jan Mowbray, President of the CDH Board of Directors.

Nixon Image

Executive Director Mike Nixon

CDH also has a new Executive Director – Mike Nixon –  who was in complete support of the change.  A number of Staff changes were made as well.  COVID issues meant putting some staff on furlough for a period of time.

The organization has now completed the needed structural changes.

Edwardh-Joey

Dr. Joey Edwardh

Dr. Joey Edwardh, who retired last October after more than twenty years at the helm during which time some significant changes were made in the way social issues were deliberated upon at a public level.

 

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