More Information about a Democratic Model for Our Community

Up until now, I have purposely avoided concretely defining what I mean by a “democratic community-based organization.”

One of the reasons for this lack of precision is that I truly believe that this organization must be created by and for the community, not the Director. And that one of its main roles will be to advise, influence, and place a check and balance on the Regional Director. To be effective, it will need to be independent and operate outside of the direct influence of the Regional Director.

Having said this, I am hearing that many of you want this idea to be defined a little more clearly.

One model which I believe is a good one, and is already present in Area C, is a Community Association. I will concentrate on this model in this article, but it is not the only option out there.

Community Associations are powerful institutions that have the ability to accomplish many things. They have a well-defined structure, policies, and bylaws as required of not-for-profit organizations. They are directed by an elected volunteer board and can have any number of committees, some permanent and some focused on important temporary projects. They can receive funding, including grants, and can hire staff to do many things, such as supporting volunteers.

Community Associations can create and amplify a voice for the community. They are places that develop collaborative community engagement techniques that ensure a broad spectrum of ideas and opinions are considered. They provide a safe place for discussions and planning that draws on the immense talent, skills, and passion of the people they represent. They provide a way to ensure that everyone feels included in visioning, decision-making, and planning for the future.

Our current model of relying on a single local politician on his/her own to identify the best path forward, foresee all the consequences, and implement policy from the top down, is outdated and broken. Even with a hand-picked Advisory Planning Council, and ad hoc consultations and committees and surveys, it misses the mark.

A Community Association would provide a collective voice for Quadra Island. The Regional Director would be expected to attend and participate in discussions but would NOT be a voting member of the Board.

The Community Association model does not require a reinvention of the wheel, but simply the implementation of an existing well-established structure that can then be modified to the needs of Quadra. It could be much like an organization that already exists in Area C, the Surge Narrows Community Association (SNCA), which has been very successful at community decision-making and accessing grants for important community projects.

I know about the power and effectiveness of Community Associations first-hand because I was the president of one and we accomplished many things. To learn more about this story, see the sidebar on the About page.

An abbreviated version of this article was published in the Bird’s Eye on September 13, 2022.