LETTER: Community associations need rejuvenation

I found the article on “Community associations facing uncertain future” (Feb. 9 by Wolfgang Depner) informative but troubling. While Saanich, like most districts across Canada, has a rich legacy in community participation, if the Statistics Canada finding that volunteer hours have plateaued and now only 10 per cent of these worthy people are providing more than half the actual volunteer time, surely one must ask why.

While altruistic motivations for volunteering are traditionally recognized, other motivations may also be relevant. Depner notes at least two of these in his comment that “community associations represent democratic laboratories and training grounds, as well as stepping stones towards larger, elected political offices”. This said, scholarly literature on voluntarism recognizes some motivations as self-oriented; for examples, projecting influence, sustaining a career, advancing particular agendas (overt or covert).

While such motivations may be justifiable, equally they may not necessarily reflect community interests. In some instances, simply remaining a “board member” may in itself be a powerful motivation, and a barrier to renewal. Such motivation may eventually become out of balance with community interests. This may also discourage newcomers from participating. Perhaps therefore, if we truly value democratic values, there may be a need for associations to make a stronger effort to promote wider involvement.

After all, new ideas eventually become old ideas, and leadership renewal may be needed if tenure becomes as long as it apparently has with the Blenkinsop Valley Community Association: “current board members have served on average between six and eight years and one board member for 13 years”.

But to be fair, there is a need to find out how typical this profile may be across all 18 associations. And perhaps there is a role for larger entities such as municipal and provincial governments to help rejuvenate our associations, to invest more in promoting genuine community participation and building related skills. This would be an invaluable step to restore commitment to democracy from the ground up, especially at a time when it seems under threat at virtually all levels.

Franklin White

Saanich

Just Posted

BC Hydro to offer sale of Kings Road land to Saanich

Preserving land as park ‘a no-brainer,’ says neighbour

Victoria UnWined helps grant wishes for children facing critical illness

UnWined Vancouver Island raises money for Make-A-Wish BC & Yukon

Victoria teen with mobility issues stranded by stolen tricycle

The tricycle is described as customized light blue, three-wheeled tricycle with “white wall” tires

Saanich plants 60 trees to mark 60 years

Saanich Parks celebrates alongside National Tree Day, Sept. 26

Victoria’s Cool Aid Society unveils mural in celebration of 50th anniversary

The mural was created by Victoria’s artist-in-residence, Luke Ramsey

VIDEO: Tour de Rock rider says event provides badly needed support

Cancer survivor and volunteer firefighter Nicole Emery speaks about importance of fundraising tour

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Island man calls 911 after being robbed of his drugs

Nineteen-year-old and 15-year-old suspects face multiple charges following robbery Monday in Nanaimo

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Most Read