Oliver Community League Strategic Plan

November 2014

Table of Contents

About the Oliver Community League……………………………………………………………………. 3

Our Mission………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4

Our Values………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

Our Goals…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5

Next Steps………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7

 

About the Oliver Community League

Established in 1937, the Oliver Community League (OCL) is a volunteer run organization that represents more than 18 000 residents who live in Edmonton’s largest community. The League works to improve the quality of life of our residents by promoting participation in affordable local recreation and social activities, and advocating to the City of Edmonton on behalf of our community on a variety of issues, including planning and development and social support services. We also partner with and supports local agencies that endeavor to provide necessary services to our disadvantaged or isolated citizens.

Opportunities and challenges

The past two years have been have been a period of substantial change for the Oliver and the OCL. In addition to the election of several new board members, the face of our community is changing due to rapid pace of development in the area.

Some of our highlights from this time have included:

  • The strong turnout for the OCL’s AGMs and the election of several new board members, which reflects the community’s interest in the league and its activities.
  • Eliminating OCL membership fees, which has substantially increased the number of OCL’s active members
  • An increased focus on community outreach, that has included events like game nights, the Oliver Community Festival, All Is Bright, the League-organized election forum, and Canada Day festivities.
  • The creation and ongoing success of the “Little Free Libraries”
  • The ongoing work on the development of Kitchener Park’s playground
  • Keeping water in the ornamental pond at Paul Kane Park
  • Substantial positive media coverage for news and events in Oliver.

     

    The community and the League have also needed to overcome numerous challenges, both in terms of day-to-day League operations, and external issues and events. Some of these challenges have been:

  • Finding and retaining a bookerkeeper to review the League’s financial statements.
  • Challenges related to the community newspaper, including delivery issues and selecting a newspaper vendor.
  • Frustration with the City of Edmonton and its perceived non-responsiveness to community concerns
  • The Molson site redevelopment process

     

    There are also a number of structural challenges the league must overcome when trying to represent the community. Oliver is Edmonton’s densest neighbourhood, and it is home to one of the City’s most diverse populations. Our community has some of Edmonton’s wealthiest residents, but also many of its poorest residents. We have both renters and property owners, families and single person households, and we have both old and young residents, and the diverse, and sometimes opposing needs of these groups can make it difficult for the League to find the right balance in its advocacy.

With all of this in mind, the OCL came together with members of the community in late 2013 to have a broad conversation about the League’s role in the community and set broad strategic goals for the organization that will help guide its future direction.

Our Mission

Community members were asked for their thoughts on three questions relating to the OCL’s mission:

  • What does the OCL exist to do?
  • Who does the OCL work for?
  • How does the OCL represent those groups?

     

    Their responses to the first question, “what does the OCL exist to do?” generally focused on themes related to improving the community. Some specific responses included:

     

  • To make Oliver a more awesome place to live
  • Unite residents, and help build a sense of community.
  • Facilitate relationship building and neighbor-to-neighbor connections
  • To advocate on behalf of the community in ways that reflect and represent the    values of its members

     

    To residents, the OCL works not just for Oliver residents, but also more broadly for Central Edmonton and the City as a whole. They told us that the OCL should pay particular attention to individuals who have become discouraged with the OCL and local businesses.

     

    In order to achieve these goals, community members believe the OCL should:

  • Conduct advocacy and lobbying on behalf the Oliver community.
  • Provide programs, services, events, and volunteer opportunities to interested members of the community
  • Where possible, partner with and support local community organizations
  • Build relationships with members of the community

Our Values

Following the conversation on the OCL’s mission, residents of Oliver were asked for their opinions on the values the OCL should represent. They responded the OCL should be:

  • Inclusive
  • Hard working
  • Collaborative
  • Innovative
  • Engaged with the community
  • Fosters a sense of fun
  • Courageous
  • A “make it happen” organization

Our Goals

Our discussions with residents also produced seven long-term goals that should guide the activities and advocacy efforts of the OCL. These goals are:

1: Oliver should be a model community that embraces urbanism

As Edmonton’s most dense neghbourhood, Oliver should embrace principles of good urbanism and become a recognized leader In the urbanist movement in order to create a more liveable place for its residents. This includes:

  • Developing transportation options that reflects the area’s high density (e.g., bike lanes, walking space, well maintained infrastructure)
  • Preserving and enhancing our green-spaces and parks. This includes the redevelopment of Kitchener Park and Paul Kane Park
  • Lobbying the City to adjust Oliver’s Area Redevelopment Plan to more accurately reflect the needs and demographics of Oliver.

2: The Oliver Community League should be sustainable, resilient, and effective

Recognizing that community leagues face a number of challenges in creating sustainable operating models, the OCL should work towards creating an organization that is able to respond effectively to changes in board membership. This will include:

  • Ensuring the League retains its institutional memory so that future boards remember and build upon the work of past boards
  • Create a permanent staff presence to provide assistance to the Board
  • Examine holding unconventional, interactive, and creative meetings to keep members engaged and interested
  • Develop roles that fit members’ skills and expectations
  • Develop and maintain a highly resilient ecosystem of engaged volunteers

3: Develop and maintain strong partnerships within the community and across the City

Strong partnerships with community organizations are a key part of the Leagues role. The League should develop partnerships with organizations that reflect the OCLs mission and values. It should also continue to forge alliances with other community leagues that have similar interests (e.g. DECL)

4: The Oliver Community League should be a champion for Oliver and the City of Edmonton

The OCL can form a core component of a larger community building initiative that extends past the borders of our neighbourhood. We should work towards transforming the way community leagues work and are perceived in order to become a transformative city leader on development issues. Through innovative advocacy, we can help advance the interests of our community by integrating them with broader city initiatives.

5: Oliver and the Oliver Community League are known and respected across Edmonton

The League should work to raise its profile, and Oliver’s profile within Edmonton. Across the city, we should be known as bold, constantly evolving, vibrant, and fresh. This can be accomplished through the creation of a highly read, widely distributed newsletter (both in print and online) that serves as  an effective education, communication, and advocacy tool. The newsletter, combined with other improved methods of communication will help to create a legacy of engagement and community activism in Oliver.

6: The League should begin the process of building a new community hall

The current OCL hall is more than fifty years old, and a lot has changed in Oliver during its existence. Unfortunately, the hall no longer fits the needs of the community and needs to be replaced. The League needs to begin the process of designing and building a new hall that can act as a central gathering place for Oliver residents.

7: The Community League should maintain and expand its diverse, engaged base of participants

The OCL had an expansive base of volunteers with more than 1000 active members. This base should be maintained by the League, and expanded to ensure it fully reflects the diversity of Oliver’s demographic makeup. Effort should be made to ensure that all members are enageged, even those who may only be residents of Oliver for short periods of time. Working together, we can make a our community a better place to live.

Next Steps

Over the coming months, the OCL board will review this document to ensure its activites are aligned with the mission, vision, and goals articulated above. It is the OCL’s intention to host a second community consultation on the plan. This consultation session will provide an opportunity to ensure the community is still in agreement with the contents of this plan, as well as seek input on specific issues that will help to inform the development of a shorter term tactical plan that will guide the league’s specific activities for the next four years.

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