The Capital Pride board failed to reach quorum at a meeting Jan 16, so it instead used the gathering to discuss its plans to be debt free in time for its 30th anniversary in 2016.
Board members had proposed several bylaw amendments, but attendees were unable to vote on them because the meeting was two members short of its legal minimum for voting.
“This year, because it was brought forward by our membership at the AGM, we’re committed to examining the debt and looking at what is the best feasible way of dealing with that this year,” board member Elliott Youden said. “To pay it all off in one lump sum would cripple us and leave us with no capital for this year.”
Capital Pride has struggled to pay down its debt since it hosted a popular, but expensive, street party in 2004 on Bank Street. However, in the nine years since, the organization has reduced its debt by more than half, to $48,348.90.
Capital Pride currently owes $20,030 to the City of Ottawa, $14,318.90 to Fleet Pro Lighting and Sound (FPLS) for services provided in 2004 and 2005, and $14,000 to a private loan. A written debt-repayment agreement exists with the city but not with FPLS or the private debtor.
Youden says previous boards did not keep comprehensive records of Capital Pride’s debt, forcing the current board to investigate the exact amount of money owed to each lender. The board is working with FPLS and the private debtor to forge written debt-repayment agreements so the festival can be debt-free in three years.
Board member Jodie McNamara is currently acting as interim treasurer, replacing Jonathan Dawe, who resigned at the Oct 24 AGM. The board is looking for a qualified, permanent treasurer.
Meanwhile, the board has hired a bookkeeper and auditor, board chair Sebastien Provost said, which will ensure the treasurer is not overwhelmed. The addition of these positions will allow the festival to apply for more funding and to be eligible for grants.
The board has also hired management consultants and facilitators to assist with the development of a strategic plan for 2013 to 2017.
“This board is committed to building the capacity of the organization moving forward,” Provost said.
In addition, several proposed bylaw amendments, which have been in the works for three years, are now set to be voted on at the next AGM.
One proposed bylaw found in the new revisions presented at the meeting would split the communications and operations chair into two separate positions.
“The biggest goal was to align the bylaws with where the organization is and how the organization has grown over the years,” Youden said.
The board also wants to amend bylaws so that board members can delegate duties to other members and ensure the AGM occurs no more than 60 days from the end of the fiscal year. The new rules would also redefine the duties of each chair and committee.
Board member Chris Ellis said the bylaw proposals are the product of many years of work, noting that more revisions are expected. Ellis added that the new Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act has passed but has not yet come into effect. When it does, every provincial not-for-profit will have to revise its bylaws.
“We just wanted to update our bylaws to reflect what we are doing,” Ellis said. “But we haven’t gone through them with a fine-toothed comb.”
Sebastien Plante renewed his Capital Pride membership at the meeting; he says he was motivated to get involved after reading a poorly translated French language press release from last year’s festival.
Plante says the current board seems ambitious and intent on getting along – a significant change after last year’s public battle between 2012 chair Loresa Novy and former board member Guy Hughes.
“Even if they disagree, there’s a way of disagreeing respectfully, and that seems to be the most common variety of disagreement going on right now,” Plante says.
While Provost is disappointed that quorum was not reached at the meeting, he is looking ahead to next week’s board retreat to reexamine the vision of Capital Pride.
“When I first started, I said I was really scared to be on this board, and I was really worried about that. To me, this is just a green light for change,” he says. “I’m not saying anything was bad before, but I’m saying that we want to do better.”
Justin Broekema was the only board member elected at the 2012 AGM not in attendance at the meeting.