A number of changes have taken place within Chebucto over the past year; I am very pleased that we have moved forward in a number of areas. We have increased disk space for users, as well as increasing the membership categories and benefits available to members; we now accept credit card payment for membership renewals; the long awaited commercial policy is in place; periodic communication to all members has resumed; and financially we are on much surer ground than we were a year ago. As well, we hosted the very successful Telecommunities Canada 97 conference, with attendees from all over the world. Works in progress include: receiving charitable status from Revenue Canada; adding new hardware and modems thereby increasing our capacity; adding dial-up PPP capability; and increasing both the range and quality of the services we provide our Information Providers.
Internally, our accounting systems are much more rigorous and various changes have been made in the office to streamline the administrative work of the organization. Externally, Chebucto continues to provide leadership and be recognized across Canada. We are actively involved with the Provincial and Federal governments, as well as Telecommunities Canada and the Nova Scotia Federation of Community Nets in helping strengthen community networking in Canada.
The Board has grappled with several significant issues this year. We have rewritten the mission statement to be more reflective of our geographic reach (the Halifax Regional Municipality)and to more clearly focus on providing access and information. The Board has also helped create Csuite Networking Cooperative Ltd. to move the development of CSuite software forward.
1998 promises to be an exciting year. Projects we will work on include a better and more concerted to work with new and existing IP's and to provide them with a higher level of service. The Internet is always evolving and we need to think carefully about the changes taking place and how we can continue to thrive and provide meaningful services to all people in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Volunteers have always been at the heart of CCN and we need to better develop mechanisms to recruit, train and retain volunteers.
At the Board level we are finally recovering from a large turnover in March of 1997. A number of positions were vacant and we are busy rebuilding capacity in such important areas as volunteers and fundraising. I am hopeful that this year we will be able to focus on increasing the sustain ability and growth of CCN.
Our traditional strength has been in helping people access the Internet, regardless of their background, capability or access to a computer, and in providing support and training and a low cost place for information providers. We will continue to work hard on this important project.
It is also important to recognize the contribution of number of people without whom CCN would simply not exist. Blaine Murphy continues to be the friendly helpful voice at the end of the phone, Chris Majka regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty in revising parts of our website and promptly adding all manner of services for IP's, all of the folks at userhelp continue to make my life easier and to provide surprising complete and detailed answers to arcane questions, and ... I am sure I have neglected a large number of people who together help make CCN such a vibrant and exciting resource.