For some months, an informally constituted pro tem board of directors has been attempting to advance the Outdoor Recreation Council of Alberta, and we have arrived at a point where we believe we see the way ahead but need confirmation from the outdoor quiet recreation community.
Firstly, after extensive deliberation and consultation with government officials and the outdoor community, we believe that ORCA should focus exclusively on acting as an advocate on behalf of the outdoor recreation community to the Provincial Government and municipal governments with respect to public land use planning. We would engage only when we can identify a sufficient common purpose among our membership that ORCA would be both credible and effective in its representations. In time, we do not preclude that ORCA might be able to pursue other useful projects, but we believe we must first direct all of our energies to the primary goal, and demonstrate we can perform it at a level which is truly of value to all concerned.
The direct consequence of this conclusion is that we intend to establish ORCA as a stand-alone not-for-profit as soon as we can make this happen. We believe that the interests of the community will be best served by having ORCA as an all-volunteer organization, with the idea of re-considering at successive Annual General Meetings.
The key next step is to confirm that the role we envisage is of value to the outdoor recreation community. We are confident from our discussions to date that the Provincial Government would find it helpful. This means establishing a membership which is broadly representative of all aspects of outdoor quiet recreation in the province: hiking, climbing, biking, kayaking, canoing, orienteering, fishing, hunting, et al. We envisage a modest membership fee for organizations throughout the province, but the first step is securing “buy in”. So please let us know your thoughts and your willingness to engage.
The second key step is to establish a board of directors duly elected by the membership. We need directors who are energetic, committed, articulate, and actively engaged in some aspect of quiet recreation. Ideally, directors will bring broader relationships in the outdoor recreation community and have some experience interacting with government officials or ministers, though the latter is not essential. As long as we have some folks who have this experience, we should be more than able to be fully effective. Geographical diversification is also a key objective.
We believe we have an excellent nucleus of directors who are willing to stand for election, and would serve the community at a high level, but we are at best half-way there.
In light of all this, we have decided to defer the Annual General Meeting until February, among other things to shore up our membership and to come up with a process for electing directors. But for the moment, anyone who is willing to put up her or his hand is welcome indeed. Needless to say, if we do not have substantive membership by that time, we will conclude that the idea of an umbrella advocate for the quiet recreation community does not have general support, but that it was well worth a try.
As a final note, we, the pro tem board, express our thanks to the Outdoor Council of Canada for its efforts in getting ORCA to the launch point. The Board of OCC and its Executive Director, Albi Sole, have put in a lot of time and energy, and without it an ORCA type entity would still be in the distant future instead of a potential near term contributor to the community.
ORCA’s Interim Board
Douglas Allen, Al Black, Laura Mislan, David Wasserman, Neil Keown, David Mills, Nicole Gaskell