EMC News Ottawa East by Michelle Nash – For the first time in recent Sandy Hill memory, there were a number of heated races to become a new board member on the area community association.
Action Sandy Hill’s annual general meeting took place at the Sandy Hill Community Centre on May 16, but did not wrap up until the early hours of May 17.
Going into the meeting, there were 10 positions coming open on the board, with four current members seeking re-election. Six other current board members still have time remaining on their terms.
However, because of a growing concerns related to student housing, house conversions, development and problems with garbage and noise in the neighbourhood, a number of new names popped up for consideration, which led to a total of 14 people competing for the 10 spots.
This led to what association president Christopher Collmorgen called one of the community’s first elections.
“This is unprecedented, but it’s amazing,” Collmorgen told the large crowd at the meeting. “I can”t believe we are actually having an election, as contested as it may be.”
There were more than 150 people who filed into the community centre’s main hall for the meeting, a far cry from the 40 or so who attended last year.
Many of the people who came did so to speak out about developments, problem areas within their neighbourhood and the community’s biggest neighbour, the University of Ottawa.
Others were interested in taking part in the voting process and receiving an update on the association past year’s accomplishments.
In Collmorgen’s speech to the crowd, the president recounted his past year working alongside other board members on behalf of the community.
Collmorgen said he has spent more than 165 hours of time in the past year at meetings with residents, city officials, and developers on behalf of Action Sandy Hill.
That number does not account for hours spent reporting back to the board and residents, attending meetings or responding to emails.
“I am pleased to see we have an interest in membership, interested in stepping forward and willing to help,” Collmorgen said. “I paraphrase John. F. Kennedy right now, .Sandy Hill needs you, ask not what ASH can do for you, but what you can do for ASH.” Of the 14 community members who put their names forward for election to the board, four were current board members: Alice Kwong, Sophie Beecher, Éric Audet and John Verbaas.
The election began at 10 p.m., following a series of motions, when each of the 14 potential nominees introduced themselves and then the ballots were cast.
The results did not come in until after midnight, with nine board members elected and two others tied for the final position.
According to the association’s bylaws, a second vote will be done electronically via email, to determine the final board member.
Since the meeting saw 150 people in attendance, the board requested a week to update its membership list before the second round of votes are cast. The complete results of the election will appear on the Action Sandy Hill website by the end of the month.
Before members of the association could even vote, two motions were put forward calling for changes to association bylaws, which were updated last year.
One motion called for the removal of “business owners” from the section identifying who can serve on the board.
Collmorgen, explaining the background of why business owners were added, said the reason business owners were added was the board felt they have a vested interest in the community and board members felt they should be represented.
Although there was some dispute of the wording of the motion and the reasoning behind it, the motion was unanimously approved by the membership, meaning the business owners can no longer occupy positions on the board.
The other motion was regarding the declaration of interest bylaw.
Doug Ainslie, a resident who was seeking election to the board, put forward a motion regarding conflict of interest, specifically calling out any board member who could stand to gain financially to recluse themselves from the board or the issue at hand.
The motivation behind the motion was questioned by several residents and Collmorgen, who owns income property in the neighbourhood.
“I think that an increased conflict of interest clause in the bylaws is a good thing, I think that is how we should have dealt with the business interests, not by banning them all together,” said Chad Rollins, one of the residents who ran for election to the board. “However I think that it”s a bad forum tonight to make this kind of amendment because it needs to be read and studied and the implications considered.”
The motion was voted down by those in attendance.