How to Form and Maintain a Recognized Neighbourhood Association?
For many decades and the City of Nanaimo has recognized, worked with and supported local neighbourhood associations. For the most part this relationship has been fairly informal and consisted primarily of information sharing.
More recently, City Council adopted a Neighbourhood Association Supports Policy (found at this link) which formalizes City supports and services provided to associations, and the organizational requirements associations need to satisfy in order to receive these supports. The new policy was adopted by Council on 2022-Apr-25 and lays out the following minimum organizational criteria associations must meet and maintain:
- Have an elected executive that meets on a regular basis (at least once a year);
An elected executive generally includes a chair (or president), vice-chair (or president), secretary and treasurer, as well as a variable number of directors to support the work of the executive. Election of the executive members should occur once a year at the annual general meeting, through a vote by the members in attendance. Ideally the elected executive would meet periodically throughout the year to conduct business, but at the very least needs to meet once a year, and can satisfy this criteria by using the annual general meeting for this purpose.
- Have a membership structure (not necessarily fee paying);
The membership structure can be as simple as maintaining an email list of members, or more formalized through the use of membership fees. The key interest of this criteria is to understand how many persons are connected to the association and to be able to provide this number upon request to the City.
- Hold an annual general meeting, and provide a copy of the minutes to the City with updated membership numbers;
The purpose of the annual general meeting is to provide an update on the status and activities of the neighbourhood association, and should include at minimum the following items:
- Minutes of Previous AGM (for adoption);
- Chair or President’s Report (outlining key activities of the association over the past year);
- Treasurer’s Report (summary of the association’s financial status); and
- Election of Executive Members for coming year.
In order to satisfy this criteria, a copy of the annual general meeting minutes needs to be sent to the City once prepared, along with the most recent membership number.
- Keep minutes for executive and general membership meetings;
In order to meet this criteria, the association needs to keep minutes of all executive meetings and executive meetings held with the general membership, so there is a record of any discussion or decisions that occur at these meetings. Ideally, all meetings records should be made available to the association’s membership.
- Engage with its membership for input prior to responding to City development referrals, such as Official Community Plan (OCP) and rezoning applications;
The chair of a neighbourhood association will occasionally be sent referrals from City staff for review and comment. In this case, engagement with the membership can be satisfied by the chair sending the referral to the membership for input or information via email or social media. Alternatively, the referral could be considered at an executive meeting held with the general membership for input (on-line or in-person).
- Provide periodic updates to members related to the activities of the group.
This criteria can be satisfied through periodic circulation of email updates, social media postings, website postings, newsletters, etc. to the association’s membership on the activities of the association, or at an executive meeting with the membership (on-line or in-person).
Satisfying these organizational criteria will ensure that an association receives services and supports outlined in the policy document, including development referrals related to rezoning applications and development permits, staff liaison support, education support related to the City’s various functions (e.g. Planning and Development 101 Session), and funding support through various grant programs, including the new Neighbourhood Association Grant Program.
Associations that do not satisfy the above organizational criteria would still receive support but it would be more limited in scope, focusing primarily on communication and information support regarding planning matters.
In order to monitor the status of recognized associations, the City will check in with each group on an annual basis (usually toward the beginning of the year) to confirm that they are able to satisfy the organizational criteria, and can provide the information specified in the criteria (such as minutes from the groups most recent annual general meeting).
Registered society status is not required for recognition, but is encouraged where possible.
The City encourages the formation of new neighbourhood associations, and recognizes that it often takes time for new groups to fully satisfy the organizational criteria. While it is working toward this goal, the newly formed group would still be placed on the City’s neighbourhood association map and contact list for information distribution purposes.
To understand how other associations have formed in the past and satisfied the City’s organizational criteria, new groups are encouraged to contact those associations that have been active in the community for years. The City’s Community Planning Section (ph. 250-755-4464, email: email@example.com) can provide relevant contacts upon request.