Laine Johnson

Synapcity & Hintonburg CA

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09 July 2018

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Synapcity was pleased to have been invited to support the Hintonburg Community Association (HCA)’s Strategic Retreat this month. We bring a participatory approach to strategic thinking, as we do in our learning and education sessions. The wisdom is already in the room, but you might need certain approaches to make that thinking visible.

Synapcity brings many of the same principles to planning as we do to our other activities. Informed decision-making begins with ensuring everyone is on the same page.

How it works

  1. We begin with data collection, creating a baseline from which to work.
  2. From there, the assembled group is asked to bring their own insights and propose solutions or alternatives to the current model.
  3. After assessing what is feasible within a certain timeframe, we assign a timeline of expected milestones, benchmarks for success, and reporting mechanisms to track progress.

Bringing these tools to the better part of a beautiful Sunday, the HCA board worked to uncover what’s next for their neighbourhood and what role the Community Association should play. Although the HCA has seen much progress in their neighbourhood over the last 15 years, many concerns ring true right across the city: volunteer management, succession planning and membership renewal, effective use of time and resources, and community visibility.

What is a Community Association, exactly?

Community Associations are an essential piece of this city’s civic infrastructure. Organized by neighbourhood, it’s a formal structure whereby community members work together on what’s important to them, whether it be the built environment and land use planning, social inclusion and belonging, or safety and security, to name a few. They have a formal recognition from and relationship with the City of Ottawa and with each other.

The work of Community Associations is expansive, relying on the time and energy of residents to make our most beloved communities our favourite places to live. Our city is increasingly complex. Intensification, the missing middle in Ottawa’s housing market, local safety and crime against property and the person, food security and access, and good employment opportunities can all be felt at the hyper-local level: in our own backyards. Some communities have a Main Street and work alongside an active Business Improvement Area, others do not. Some have access to easy and effective public transportation, some do not. The priorities may shift across neighbourhoods, but the crux of the work is the same, to create a vibrant local experience with opportunities that can be accessed by all.

If you want to get involved in your community and don’t know where to start, your local community association is a great place. And if you don’t find a local, maybe it’s up to you to get one off the ground! There are lots of resources to get you started, why not try the Federation of Citizens Associations? Or get in touch with us, and we will happily connect you with the right people.

We thank the HCA for the opportunity to work through some of their thinking with them, and can’t wait to see how the next 12 months unfold!