by Deron Johnston
The Oxford Mills Community Association held this year’s Annual General Meeting at Maplewood Hall in the heart of Oxford Mills, a place that has been the site of the OMCA AGM for many years. However, there was something different about this year’s meeting. The atmosphere was different, the air in the hall seemed a little bit lighter, and the members of the board seemed to be in a more playful mood than usual. For those who are familiar with the OMCA, you probably have a good idea why.
It was quite a year for the OMCA. Events Coordinator, Sara McAvoy, outlined the long list of successful events that the community enjoyed which had helped to raise a larger amount of money than normal. According to Treasurer, David Habberjam, that money was sorely needed, because a major multi-year project taken on by the board had finally been completed this year. Maplewood Park finally had a gazebo again. In total, it cost the Association approximately $11,000 to have the gazebo built and installed. It was made possible by a number of efforts, including the success of several fundraising events, raising $4,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, and significant in-kind contributions from Lockwood Brothers and Cruickshank Construction.
As had been reported on more than one occasion in the NG Times, “GazeboGate” was a long, drawn-out affair that tested the resolve and patience of the OMCA. Despite the obstacles placed in front of them by North Grenville Municipal Council, they persevered and now have a centrepiece for all of their outdoor events, like Canada Day, the Easter Egg Hunt, and weddings, which used to be common in Maplewood Park during the years of the previous gazebo. Rather than dwell on the negative of the situation, Board President, Marc Nadeau, wanted to focus on the hope that other community associations would learn from this experience and decide to take on projects of their own, and, perhaps, be able to work out a successful partnership with the Municipality.
Marc added that he would like the OMCA to continue to do more community projects. One in particular that he mentioned was the possibility of adding a seasonal dock at the end of Beach Road that would allow people to put canoes and kayaks in the water there, so that they could paddle up and down the South Branch above the dam. He also encouraged other Oxford Mills residents to come forward with their ideas. He felt that the Association could act as a kind of incubator for these community-based ideas.
At the end of the meeting, the election for the Board of Directors was held. Three spots were available for interested community members with the resignation of Sara McAvoy, as well as two other available board positions. For the first time in several years, an election was necessary, as four people were nominated for the three board positions. After the votes were counted, Dan Spring and Ashley Sloan were successful, along with Marc Nadeau, who was re-elected, as his previous term on the board had ended.
The new board appears to be a healthy mix of both new blood and board veterans. With their recent accomplishments in their back pockets, and perhaps some added confidence, it’s looking like 2018 could be a very interesting year for the OMCA. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a new dock appear at the end of Beach Road. After all, there’s a municipal election this year.