September 27, 2019
Moving Forward through an Impasse
The ACTC Board is genuinely committed to resolving the impasse between the Board and some members of the ACTC. The ACTC Board is appreciative of the Town staff who assisted the Board in forming this plan to move forward through the impasse.
For many months, there has been differing views and opinions as to the decisions made by the ACTC Board. The current Board believes its actions over the past year were transparent, inclusive and responsible.
Contrary to the Board’s view, over the past year, some ACTC members have put forward arguments, demands & complaints that the Board is unresponsive to their issues.
The impasse deteriorated when our 2019 Board Elections where compromised. To redress the compromised voting process, the Board was obligated to re-schedule the Annual General Meeting and put into place a By-Election process for the Board Director positions that were compromised.
A few other issues that further exacerbated the impasse includes:
a. 15 years of negligible membership interest to volunteer for the Board – then suddenly flooded with accusations and complaints;
b. A difference in opinion as to the validity of the Constitution and By-Laws;
c. A difference in opinion as to the voting rights of junior members;
Resolving the Impasse
Resolving the impasse is critically important to all stakeholders. The stakeholders are the membership which the Board represents, the Town of Aurora which leases the McMahon facilities to the Board and the broader community which reaps benefits from the ACTC organization providing stewardship to the facilities at McMahon Park.
The ACTC Board Goal :
Complete (create) a new Constitution and By-law document; - how are we to accomplish this task?
1. Form a Constitution sub-committee (with Terms of Reference) that will revise and update our Constitution and By-laws;
2. The Sub-committee will submit a draft to the Board;
3. The Board will review the draft Constitution and By-Laws and submit suggestions;
4. The Board will distribute the draft Constitution and By-Laws to the membership;
5. The Board will invite members to offer comments and suggestions on the draft Constitution and By-Laws;
6. The Board will again review and update the document with membership input;
7. The Board will publish the new Constitution and By-laws to the membership;
8. The Board will hold an online vote on accepting the new Constitution and By-Laws;
Voting Software for Increasing Access & Inclusiveness
In the business world, people are using Internet technologies to enhance connections in and outside the organization. To that end, the ACTC Board approved a plan to use online voting software for the 2019 AGM. Our goal was to give more access to members and increase inclusiveness so members can contribute to the Club and have a greater feeling of belonging to our Community Tennis Club.
We researched survey/election software tools and in the end we found the best election software with our webhosting service, Wild Apricot.
As we developed our election process and format, the Board recognized how this software can be used to ask our membership questions about issues the Board needs to decide on. The end result in using an online polling tool is greater inclusiveness, accessibility for our members and an easy to use tool that can assist the Board in making decisions.
Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ (on website)
Another example of effective use of online tools is creating an FAQ page on our website. The FAQ page clarifies and gives historical explanations as to why the Board created policies and program changes. As mentioned earlier, some members have raised questions and sometimes complaints over issues the Board dealt with years ago, little realizing or making themselves aware of the historical and political (economic as well) reasons the Board established a policy or program. For example:
1. Why we no longer have a Club Pro;
2. Why we established non-peak membership level;
3. Why we continue to support pickleball for seniors transiting out of tennis for health reasons;
4. Why we allow any pro to be hired by a member of a team;
5. Why we support the Hi-Performance Junior Program;
6. Why we are committed to the principal of encouraging court usage; in low usage times;
7. Why we support and maintain good relations externally with Sport Aurora, Town of Aurora, Active Aging Canada,
Another example the Board’s use of electronic communications is the creation of a webpage on ACTC website that invites members to communicate with the Board. A simple procedure was set up for members to follow. He/she is asked to identify what the issue(s) is. Naming the issue is much like putting a title in the subject area for an email. It’s a condensed message that describes the issue. The member is asked to give examples that further explain the issue and offer recommendations to improve or solve the issue. The Board uses this website tool (called “How to Communicate to the Board) to listen and respond to member issues and concerns. Complements are also encouraged as if something is working well, the Board would like to hear this news. More details about the communications protocol is found below.
Inclusivity & Responsiveness to the Wider Community
This Board recognizes its role to be inclusive and responsive to our wider community. A few examples include:
Utilizing an online polling software tool – The Board implemented an online polling software tool to give the ICTA feedback on the interest (or not) for the formation of new ICTA teams;
Strengthening the broader tennis community. The East Gwillimbury Tennis Club Executive sought the Board’s help in choosing and purchasing software for their website; They also received ACTC advice on incorporating the EGTC as a non-profit and strengthening their relationship with the Town of East Gwillimbury.
Consulting with our McMahon Neighbours. The Board created a survey that informed our neighborhood residents about the installment of our LED lighting system thereby increasing “goodwill neighbour” status; Our survey was shared with the Town of Aurora Recreation Department ensuring transparent and non-biased feedback to the Town.
Sharing our Knowledge & Experience. The Board published our research & feasibility study findings regarding improving access & inclusion to senior’s with health limitations (Ontario Tennis Association, Ontario Trillium Foundation & Active Aging Canada);
Increase Access for Senior Players with Physical Limitations. Creating opportunities for seniors to continue recreational racquet sports via our Pickleball Program. The ACTC Pickleball Program brought additional side benefits for tennis facilities (benches, barbecue, divider net);
Securing Funds to Help Manage Courts & Clubhouse. For the past several years the Board succeeded in writing applications for funding a Summer Student. The grant gives young people invaluable experience and opportunity to further their education.
Securing Funds to Improve Facilities and Increase Access.
The Board has written grants (not all successful) to improve our facilities, courts, programs etc. (Ontario Trillium Foundation, Employment & Social Development Canada – New Horizon’s for Senior’s, Ontario Ministry for Senior’s and Accessibility)
Canada Revenue Agency – Rebate Grant Program. The Board was successful in applying for rebates of our HST/GST expenses. CRA staff assisted us through the complex application process. We successfully complied with the stringent audit requirements of the CRA Tax Authorities.
Thus we received in excess of $10,000 to date, and expect an additional $2,000 when we apply in January 2020. We are pleased that with the CRA’s support we reconciled a clear history (record) of our spending and revenue over the past 5 years.
In addition, to comply with CRA rebate requirements, our fiscal year end must by December 31. For this reason we adopted a new year that starts in January 1.
Vandalism at ACTC –The vandalism at McMahon Park and the ACTC club house has being frequent and upsetting. The ACTC Board made a recommendation to the Town for added security at McMahon Park. In early fall the Town installed security cameras at the club. Let’s hope this ends the wanton destruction of public property.
Board Motion to Support Current Programming.In the fall of 2018, the Board passed a motion to continue its support for the following programs:
1. ACTC Pickleball Program – fulfilling our 5 year commitment to the Federal Government, meeting needs of players (seniors) with physical limitations;
2. Hi-Performance Junior Program – increasing membership, utilizing empty courts, growing reputation as a “center of excellence”
3. Ladies Friendly Program & Mixed Friendlies Program – providing organized daytime non-competitive programs;
The Board has invited a proposal from a local Professional Instructor to organize and run a Junior Tennis Program. Currently 2 of our courts are not well utilized during the afternoons of the summer months. If the proposal is approved, the Junior Program will commence in the 2020 season.
Our Clubhouse was well maintained by our summer student. In 2018 we were invited to work with the Town on an “upgrade” to our clubhouse. The Town offered to assist us in securing unused fixtures or materials in the Town’s supplies. We had interest from a few members to form a committee. However this group of individuals did not produce a draft of the Committee’s Terms of Reference that the Board could review and approve. The Board is willing to try again with any volunteers who wish to assume leadership for this effort.
Financial Report – The current year to date financial statement is posted on our website. There is $8,000 in our account. Another $4,000 will be deposited in the coming weeks. The $4,000 is final payment from the Federal Government for the summer student grant program.
President’s Recommendations for 2019:
1. Complete the task of updating our Constitution and By-Laws
2. Adopt a “Code of Conduct” document that can be used to:
Play Director Report (presented by Brent on behalf of John Stephenson (resigned/moving away 2019).
The ACTC is fulfilling its 5 year commitment (set in 2015) to the Federal government. We committed to providing leadership and support to the development of pickleball in our community. A grant in 2015 enabled us to purchase many assets enjoyed by all members. These assets include benches on our courts and gazebo, a premium gas bar-b-cue, and a divider net. In addition, having a grant for Pickleball in 2015 enabled the Board to apply for CRA rebates. The $12,000 (of rebate funds) allows ACTC to have the lowest membership fee structure in the catchment basin.
Our Hi-Performance Junior Program had an outstanding year. Many students, competing at high levels were successful in their tennis career development. Please refer to Andres Marco’s report for details.
The Board heard numerous informal comments that suggested this program and the junior members add nothing to the ACTC. A detailed response to these complaints was made on our FAQ page. The Hi-Performance Instructor (Andres Marco) posted on our website his written response to letters criticising the program.
This concludes the President’s remarks. Now I’d like to call on Andres Marco of the ACTC Hi-Performance Junior Program.
President – Aurora Community Tennis Club