After almost 30 years of galvanizing the neighbourhood, Juniper Ridge Community Association is at risk of folding after losing its society status.
"It's not the same mindset as it was 20 years ago," said Gillian Stephenson, chairwoman of the not-for-profit society. "There's a lot of people taking advantage of what's being offered but not willing to help out."
Only seven people attended the association's AGM, three of them board members, despite a plea beforehand about the necessity of forming a quorum. Their constitution requires at least 15 members.
About half of Juniper blocks continue to have volunteer representatives who campaign their neighbours to collect a voluntary $10 membership fee from each residence.
Stephenson wonders, however, whether they are flogging a dead horse.
It's not the first time the association has run short of support, nor is it a problem new to community groups and service clubs.
A decade ago, the former executive encountered a similar burnt-out scenario. That's when Stephenson, who first got involved 20 years ago, and Pat Decker jumped on board to keep the organization alive.
"If there is an issue where there is community concern, then we will get people out."
Like most grassroots groups, that's how the association got its start. When tussock moth threatened fir trees on the ridge, Marion Farrar, a longtime resident, took the initiative to rally neighbours in calling for aerial spraying. They even raised money for the spraying, which was successful. Residual funds were plowed into park playground equipment.
Over the years, new issues arose and the build-out of the neighbourhood provided fresh hands.
The Giant Juniper Ridge Garage Sale, a Halloween fireworks display, and an outdoor ice rink are some of the activities the association has organized. It also liaises with the city on community concerns, such as speeding or the need for a dog park.
Stephenson said the sale would continue, since it has a momentum all its own. The fireworks will continue this year at least, though they still need volunteers.
Debbie Ryan, one of the block reps, feels there is no shortage of volunteers, only difficulty in getting members to attend a Tuesday-night AGM.
"People are too busy these days," Ryan said. "It's quite obvious that the community supports the group," through participation in the giant sale, she said.
She agrees, though, that neighbourhood issues motivate wider involvement. She mentioned dust from Owl Road as a current concern.
"Rally the mothers of the neighbourhood and something will get done," she said.
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Why is legal incorporation important to not-for-profit groups?
The status provides a legal standing equivalent to that of an individual and enables not-for-profit groups to retain funds for the purposes of the society rather than distributing profits as a company does. It ensures that a society has a life all its own, an unlimited life expectancy, and individual members are not held liable for the society's debts or obligations. Society status also enables groups to apply for government grants. Societies are not required by law to incorporate.
— B.C. Registry Services