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


Just Posted

Victoria Women’s Expo showcases the latest trends

Over 100 vendors feature lots of beauty, health, food, jewelry products and more

Mount Douglas Mathletes enjoying success by the numbers

Saanich Grade 9s walk away with top five spots in Island math competition

Hillside Avenue death ruled a homicide, police say

No charges have yet been laid in the killing of Victoria man Joe Gauthier

Hope gets eight year sentence for Church Avenue sex assault

Eight years is the sentence for David Robert Hope, who was found… Continue reading

Short-term rental market up for changes April 1 in Victoria

Bylaw amendments hike fees, require homeowner’s presence

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

B.C. man to plead guilty in connection with hit-and-run that killed teen

Jason Gourlay charged with failure to stop at the scene of accident, attempting to obstruct justice

EDITORIAL: Lowered voting age only a matter of time

The B.C. Green Party leader has reignited an age-old question in the… Continue reading

Saanich Talks event kicks off Local Area Plan updates

Updates on plans for Cadboro Bay and Cordova Bay the focus of Wednesday meeting at UVic

Braves trim Bucs to fend off elimination

Game 7 of VIJHL playoff series goes Sunday night in Nanaimo

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for B.C. SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

Lilia Zaharieva wants to share her medical good fortune

UVic student wants treatment for cystic fibrosis made available for all

Canadian survivors, supporters rally against proposed ’60s Scoop settlement

Some have accused the government of underestimating the number of survivors

Nordic athlete Arendz to be Canada’s flagbearer at Paralympic closing ceremony

The biathlete and cross-country skier from Hartsville has raced to five medals in Pyeongchang

Most Read