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Report of the Chebucto Chair - AGM - 2001
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Report of the Chebucto Chair - AGM - 2001

Serving Your Community's Online Needs Since 1994.

Report from the Chair, Board of Directors,
Chebucto Community Net Society
Annual General Meeting
April 23, 2002

Even the most cursory examination of the minutes of last year's annual general meeting would convince the reader that here stood an organization in some peril. Volunteer and staff turnover, financial uncertainty, even some doubts about whether a community based and controlled internet provider could or should survive in our increasingly crowded and complex technological world. Perhaps most painful of all, Chebucto faced the necessity of dealing with a perceived separation from some of those who had been its original pioneers -- though not from the mission they saw, to provide a service "for the community, by the community."

But change was not only on the doorstep, it was hammering at the door itself and it seemed clear that Chebucto would either have to find some way of managing change to its advantage or be overwhelmed by it.

The Board which assumed responsibility for directing Chebucto's affairs beginning last April did so knowing full well how difficult it would be to do what we were attempting. We knew there was a degree of skepticism about our ability to move things ahead in a productive way.

It was for these reasons that at the very beginning of our mandate, we made a decision which I think was a very important one. We agreed that in addition to discussing the future, item by itme, in our regular board meetings, we would hold three special meetings. At first they were known as the "revitalization and renewal" meetings but very quickly they became known as the "visioning" sessions. Each one was devoted to a single aspect of Chebucto's future: our internal structures and mechanisms; our technical services; our relationships with our external communities.

These deliberations moved us toward considering change in a positive way. The committee reports presented at this meeting will deal with specific means either implemented or under consideration for dealing with the issues that came out of those visioning sessions. I want to refer briefly to only a few which I find particularly interesting.

Our membership situation is changing dramatically. Our text accounts are in a steady and steep decline and will likely continue to be. We are still fully committed to serving our text users but we cannot really regard this as an area which even our best efforts could turn into one of potential growth. But last year our graphical access service achieved eight successive months of record Chebucto Plus signups. Neighbourhood accounts have more than doubled. Small business accounts were non-existent in 2000, rose to 5 in 2001 and are standing at 4 now with most of the year still ahead of us.

In the area of finance, we have made significant progress in tightening our controls and improving. We've continued to run a bare-bones operation--we really don't have much choice about that--and our balance sheet speaks to our success. But it's important to note that while doing these things, we have managed to finance much needed technical upgrades out of operating revenue (with more to come!) and to add a part-time person to the office staff.

The external committee has continued to involve itself with things such as the Word on the Street festival, and to court media attention -- free, of course. But we have also moved on to explore possibilities for partnerships with other community groups. The Halifax Inner City Initiative which you heard about earlier is one. Others are under active consideration or are on the horizon.

So have we solved all the problems? Well, no of course not. But we've made pretty fair progress, in one short year. We're still standing, and even growing. Take that message away with you. And, please, feel free to spread the word.



Marilyn MacDonald
Chair, Board of Directors
Chebucto Community Net Society




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