The chair of Saanich Community Associations Network (SCAN) says community associations are welcoming institutions that value diversity, but could also do more to become diverse.
“I don’t see any discrimination at all other than that one issue,” said Shawn Newby, in an interview.
That issue is wording in the bylaw of the Residents Association of Strawberry Vale, Marigold and Glanford (RASVMG). It states that “[all] members must be Canadian citizens and must be residents of the Strawberry Vale, Marigold or Glanford area.”
That wording would exclude landed immigrants from participating.
David Baanstra, vice-president and treasurer of RASVMG, said the current directors did not draft that language, adding the association has never denied anyone membership.
“Why would a community association looking for greater membership trying to restrict it?” he asked.
Baanstra said the current directors of the association plan to revise this language by November 2018 as part of requirements under the B.C. Societies’ Act in consultation with the community association membership, other community associations, and Saanich.
Baanstra said he would not pre-judge the final wording in awaiting community input. “But our goal is to be inclusive,” he said.
Newby said that issue first come up during a meeting of SCAN late last year, featuring representatives from various community associations, including RASVMG. The discovery of the wording caused surprise among those present, he said.
“I think we shared the same opinion that that wording need to be change to make sure that all residents feel welcome to join their community associations,” he said.
Newby stressed that SCAN cannot direct any association to pursue any specific action. But those present nonetheless “encouraged” the wording change and RASVMG appeared open to the change.
Newby said community associations are open. This said, community associations need to do more to attract people from all backgrounds, he said. Community associations, for example, should reach out to groups across societyto recruit members.
“Most people want a diverse membership to represent their community,” he said.