Interview with President Pamela Moss on the Future of the PSCDA

This November 18th the Portobello South Community Development Association (PSCDA) will be holding its AGM during which a number of important decisions will be made, including whether to expand the PSCDA’s boundary to include the area south of Brian Coburn to Wall Road and to elect a new president. We caught up with the PSCDA’s current president Pamela Moss to discuss what the decisions at the AGM will mean for the association and community at large.

Q: First of all, for those who are unaware, what is a community association?

A: Community associations (CAs) like the PSCDA are volunteer-run groups that represent residents with the overall goal of making their neighbourhoods better places to live by interacting with government officials, running community events to promote community spirit, tracking issues and advocating on development and other local affairs, ensuring and assisting with public consultations and helping to develop partnerships.

Q: In the case of the PSCDA, what has this Community Association done?

A: Since 2007, the PSCDA has represented the area in and around Avalon. We run a number of events, a very popular BBQ in the fall for up to 1,200 people, a spring garage sale, a Winter Family Fun Day in February. We also maintain communications channels such as our Facebook Page, website and mailing list to keep residents informed of important programs and issues. This year we also launched some issue-focused subcommittees and ran two community surveys. We meet roughly once a month to discuss issues and hear reports from the various groups in the community such as the Councillor’s office and act on these where appropriate.

Q: You mention the area in and around Avalon; where is that, exactly?

A: Officially, our catchment has been from Tenth Line to Trim and Innes to Brian Coburn; however, our community has grown in these last years and unofficially we have included the area south of Brian Coburn to Wall Road; we have members on our board from the area and we share a common recreation centre, community hall, arterial roads, schools and parks.

Q: So are you looking at making this official now?

A: The timing seems right to ask residents the question. We’ve included the catchment notionally for over a year now, to see if we can handle the expansion, and it seems like a win-win. We have been able to increase our volunteers and business partnerships while broadening our approach to a wider area on common issues. The final decisions will be up to residents, we will open the vote to all residents within the current and proposed boundaries at our AGM.

Q: So will this be your last act as president?

A: I’ll be stepping down after finishing my term as President but will stay on as Past-President to help with the transition. My last act will of course be to help elect a new President at our AGM on Tuesday, November 18th at Aquaview Community Centre, which I`m very much looking forward to.

Q: Are there any contenders?

A: We certainly hope so! We’ve struck a Nominating Committee to present a slate of candidates for open positions at the AGM. Anyone interested in nominating themselves or someone else can write the nominations committee (nominations@pscda.ca) until November 10th. Candidates can also be nominated from the floor at the AGM.

Q: So why would someone want to run – it sounds like a lot of work?

A: It is a commitment: we meet about once a month and hold two major events each year. However, the President is not doing it alone – we have a team of officers and directors who help manage the budget, partnerships and communications and sometimes subcommittees are struck to tackle specific issues. We have a great board actually, and we all share a passion for improving our community. We also get support from the community – many local business partners assist us (through funding donations and in-kind contributions, including their time) and we always get many volunteers, including amazing, helpful teenagers, at our events. The benefits are immediate, from impacts on local development to the huge smiles on the kids’ faces at the community events.

Q: It sounds like you’ve really enjoyed the job.

A: Absolutely! It’s a great way to get involved in your community and to use your skills to help advance things. You can have a real impact on local issues and help develop a broader vision of the community.

Q: And where do you see this community going?

A: We are blessed with a massive parcel of public land running from Portobello to Trim Road bordered by new development. The conditions are right for this to become a major recreation hub and the development is already underway with phase one of the François Dupuis Recreation Centre now complete and the first phase of expansion drawings being drafted this fall. The PSCDA can have a big impact on this development by facilitating community consultations and identifying possibilities and partnerships. Our future community will also be greatly affected by the development of new schools, rapid busing and commuter roads south of Innes. Our future looks bright and we want to maintain the momentum with an active community association and engaged residents. The PSCDA will need a strong leader to assist with this.

Q: So what does it take to make a good president?

A: The main quality is really a commitment to the community and a willingness to devote the volunteer time required; I have a full-time job but am still able to manage it. We have a diverse population in terms of age, culture and language and the President needs to be aware of that. The right person for the job should also be able to diplomatically handle sometimes divergent perspectives.  Being a good meeting Chair wouldn’t hurt – neither would be being a solid project coordinator and public speaker.

Q: Over the last five years with the PSCDA what would you say is your most satisfying accomplishment?

A: I think together we have put on some amazing events – we’ve held a total of six barbecues that have just gotten bigger and better over time, and for the last two years we have provided a place to celebrate Family Day close to home with sleigh rides and lots of fun in a local park. As far as issues; introducing Habitat for Humanity into the neighbourhood was a major challenge.  It was overcome through a lot of communication and now three households have joined the neighbourhood with four more builds underway.

Q: Any final words as President?

A: I sincerely hope that someone steps forward. I was the fourth PSCDA President and each of us has brought our perspectives and strengths to the position in order to advance things in our community. Neighbourhoods with good community associations are good places to live – it is as simple as that.

The PSCDA AGM will be held November 18th 7:30-9:30 PM at the Aquaview Community Centre, 318 Aquaview Drive, corner of Aquaview and Brian Coburn. Voting is open to all residents over the age of 18 between the boundaries of Tenth Line to Trim Road and Innes to Wall Road.