Proposed Strategic Plan

Community Resource Centre




The concept of creating a community capacity building resource centre evolved over the fall of 1998 as a result of discussions with people from several federal and provincial government departments, key educational institutions, community development practitioners and professionals in this field. In November 1998 at the request of this group, Leonard Poetschke consulted with volunteer groups and some service providers and found strong support for such a centre. The discussion group decided that a wider consultation was required along with work to design an appropriate vehicle.

The Group appointed an Interim Board, which was formed under the auspices of the Nova Scotia Citizens for Community Development Society. Funds were provided to the Society by HRDC and the Rural Secretariat and the Interim Board, through open competition, engaged the services of the Atlantic CED Institute (ACEDI). Under direction of the Board, the Institute set out to further investigate need and to outline a draft strategy and business plan to serve these needs. The results of that work to date are being offered here for wide public discussion and comment, prior to completing a draft business plan






In March-April, ACEDI conducted a consultation involving key agents, organizations and individuals in community-based activities in Nova Scotia. This work confirmed the needs for information brokerage services that had been identified in the study conducted by Poetschke. Information was gathered from various sources:

Seven Focus groups were organized across the province (Antigonish, Claire, Dartmouth, Kentville, Port Hawkesbury, Sydney, and Truro). One hundred and twenty people participated in the discussions. Twenty key informants were interviewed on a one-on-one basis. Three hundred questionnaires were administered with 53 responses (18 percent)

ACDEI’s consultation covered five categories of the CED "landscape" in the province: institutional resources; network organizations: support agencies; community-based development organizations; and CED practitioners/analysts. Geography, gender, and social spectrum were considered to maximize the information reflected in the findings. The following section summarizes the key findings and preferences of approximately 190 people consulted across Nova Scotia.

The results of the consultation1 suggest strong support for the creation of a CRC. The clear message was that resources, information and expertise should be catalogued and distributed to support community development volunteers’ efforts.

It was found that people, particularly volunteers in rural communities, expressed difficulty and frustration with finding and accessing information and resources when they needed them. The need for a "one stop shopping" for information on resources, and expertise in community development in Nova Scotia was evident in the research.

Participants in the consultation strongly suggested having access to information in the following formats:

A database - directory

Internet on-line services

1-800- number, with a live voice at the other end


It was suggested that there should be a link to already existing services such as the RDAs, service providers, public libraries, Access Nova Scotia, and that the information could in fact be distributed through the 117 CAP sites throughout the province.

The consultation process confirmed that this initiative must be governed by, owned by, and managed by the people that it is intended to serve: It should be community driven. The structure should include community groups, practitioners, staff, and funding partners. Particular attention must be paid to ensuring that the wide spectrum of community development experiences of Nova Scotia is represented and included in the governance structure. The board of directors would be composed of citizens from a wide range of background experiences who would fit pre-set criteria for selection.

Regarding funding, it was clear that start-up could not depend on fees for service. In the absence of specific information about the services, the costs and the benefits, respondents were reluctant to suggest commitment of their scarce funds. All of the groups and most of the people interviewed, felt that government should provide the seed capital for this initiative for a 3 – 5-year period. This was seen as the only way to kick-start such an initiative, particularly in its early stages. It was also suggested that foundational and corporate support be pursued, so that government funding could be decreased annually.

This initiative has to be "value added." That is to say, it cannot and should not duplicate or compete with what is already in existence. The strong support for this initiative came from volunteers and community-based organizations and from some of the RDAs, private sector and institutional providers. Other providers were concerned with potential overlap with their mandates and, in consequence, a potential dilution of already scarce resources.





The establishment of a CRC would respond to the needs and interests of community volunteers, service providers and organizations involved in community capacity building in Nova Scotia. The categories identified, together with an incomplete listing of groups that would be included, are as follows:

Institutional-Based Resources include the Acadian Centre for Small Business; the Atlantic CED Institute; the Community Development Program at Henson College; the CED Centre at the Community College in Truro; the CED Diploma Program at Saint Mary’s University; the Extension Department at Saint Francis Xavier University; the Graduate Program in CED-MBA and the CED Institute at University College of Cape Breton; the Tatamagouche Training Centre and others.

Province Wide Networks include organizations such as the Coastal Communities’ Network; the Network for Creative Change; the Digby Neck Network; the Economic Development Officers Network in Mi’kmaq communities; the Nova Scotia Citizens for Community Development Society; the Nova Scotia Council of African Nova Scotians; Women for Economic Equality and others.

Support-Resource Agencies include a) government departments: the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency; the Department of Community Services; the Department of Economic Development and Tourism; the Department of Environment; Human Resource Development Canada (HRDC); the Rural Secretariat and others. b) support systems and agencies: Access Nova Scotia; Centres for Community Enterprises; Community Business Development Centres; Government Field Workers; the Regional Development Authorities and others.

Community Development Professionals and Practitioners include hundreds of individuals and volunteers committed to building capacity in communities across Nova Scotia. Among them are those who have recently graduated from CED programs. Over the last three years approximately 200 people graduated from CED Certificate Programs. This year alone, 23 people graduated from the Community College CED Centre Certificate in Truro; 57 people graduated from the Atlantic CED Institute’s Province Wide Certificate Program; 35 people graduated from the CED Diploma Program offered ACEDI and Saint Mary’s University; about 30 are completing their training at the Acadia Centre for Small Business and Entrepreneurship; ten participants will graduate from a Certificate Program offered by ACEDI in collaboration with Extension Department at SFX University in Antigonish; about 30 people are enrolled in the MBA-CED Masters Program and 20 people attend annually the Learning Vacation deliver by the CED Institute at UCCB. Over 50 people participate in the "Skills Shop" offered by Extension Department at SFX University. Furthermore, in the last five years several professionals and analysts in CED have written and published on community-based economic development issues in Nova Scotia.

Community Development Experiences, there are more than 300 existing community development experiences in Nova Scotia.2 Although they are a true asset for development and capacity building, there is no province wide information on the value, the existing capacity and the potentials of this wide range of community development experiences in the province. These valuable assets are not recorded in a database, nor is there accurate information on the volume and scope of community-based initiatives in Nova Scotia.

These five categories of community-based development in Nova Scotia provide the foundation for a successful CRC. The CRC’s mandate and functions should respond to the needs of this landscape, and its activities should be oriented to strengthening and advancing the capacities of this wide range of expressions of community development in Nova Scotia.






Community-based development and capacity building, as a community driven process, refers to communities taking control of their own problems, issues and solutions. There are many examples where community capacity building has changed poverty-stricken communities into vibrant, empowered and sustainable communities.

While some of the current experience of community-based development in Nova Scotia is impressive, a vacuum does exist. The experience, resources and expertise of our institutions, organizations and initiatives are not interconnected and are geographically specific in most respects. In consequence, one of the greatest drains on volunteer energy and resources at the community level is the effort needed to figure out what information is needed and then to find and assemble it from many different sources.

The need for a "common place," through which local people, communities, development practitioners, and others could access information and resources, has never been greater. The proposed CRC is intended to fill this void by assembling information and making it available to strengthen the whole field of community development to stimulate and support community capacity building.


The Community Resource Centre (CRC) would serve as a broker between community needs for development and service providers, and it would cultivate a higher profile of community development in Nova Scotia. These services would stimulate and support capacity building in community-based development activities and help to advance the overall field of community development in Nova Scotia. It would be a resource for all existing and upcoming experiences in community development including the Regional Development Authorities, Training Providers, CED Practitioners, Researchers, and Community-Based Networks.




The CRC would be established under the following premises:



There is no organization in the province that has a comprehensive catalogue and information system to serve community volunteers and organizations, service providers and users across Nova Scotia so that they can maximize their commitment to building communities’ capacity. If a community volunteer or organization requires information on existing resources, services, or expertise there is no agency that has a comprehensive database or the dedicate capacity to find and access the needed resources and information. In consequence, building a data base-and catalogue readily accessed by organizations and citizens would be value added to the overall field of CED in the province.

Many organizations and consultants have developed specific data with information related to their specific area of work. However there is no province wide centre which compiles and catalogues information, and then makes it accessible to Nova Scotia citizens to encourage their involvement in building communities’ capacity.

The CRC, as an effective centre of information in community-based development, would play a fundamental role as liaison and broker between the users and services providers described earlier in the five categories. For example, if a volunteer (individual or organization) requires a service in any area related to community development, the CRC through its database and linkages would provide options to connect that volunteer with the appropriate resources. CRC functions and services would not be duplicating and overlapping with any existing organization. Rather, they would strengthen and serve all existing efforts.



The strongest and most consistent message that emerged from all consultations is that community groups want the CRC to be community driven by a board whose mandate is to serve as a broker responding to community needs. The y want the organization to be independent of the directed mandates of government, educational bodies particular interests, the private sector or service provider - bodies with other purposes. Responding to these concerns, it is proposed that the CRC would be governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, which would be accountable to its membership. Board members, while not representing agencies, would be drawn from the five categories of community development identified above, perhaps as follows:

Board Structure

Community Development Categories


Institutional-based resources


Province wide networks


Support-resource agencies


Community development professionals


Community-based development initiatives
(two rural-based, one aboriginal, one black, one youth, one disabled)


Total Board Members


And would provide for ex-officio participation of funding agencies.

Subject to the results of the province-wide consultation, the Interim Board would finalize the business plan and design a strategy to build membership. Concurrent with this activity, the Board would appoint a nominating committe e to present names of the first Board of Directors for election at a founding members meeting, For the first Board, one third of the members would be elected for one year, another third for two years and the rest for three years. Subsequently,each year o ne third of the Board would be elected for three years. The Board would meet quarterly and the organization would cover travel expenses. The volunteer board members would receive no stipend.



As recommended in the previous reports, CRC’s primary function would be to provide information and support to volunteers and practitioners involved in community development in Nova Scotia.

Brokerage Function. While providing information to support citizens and organizations involved in community development activities, CRC would liaise with and refer service providers according to the users’ requirements. To fulfill t his function effectively, the CRC would offer on-line and live voice services. These services would be both virtual and physical. A Web Page on the Internet, interactive on line discussion, an e-mail account, a fax service, and a 1-800- number wit h a live voice at the other end would be required for timely and helpful, response.

The CRC, in this brokerage function, would not undertake contracts for training or consulting services. Its services would be entirely oriented to provide information on sources and options for existing services and resources. Community volunteers and (user) organizations would make the decisions regarding the services they need. Clearly, the main purpose of this function is to liaise between users and service providers in the field of community development.

Service Providers would, for a fee, register and provide information about their services, qualifications and history in a consistent format. It is proposed that the CRC would provide no evaluation, suggesting to users that complaints be filed with the Better Business Bureau.

Research Function. Research issues raised in the course of operations would be routed to the most appropriate research bodies. There are, however, two research functions that would likely arise naturally from the Centre’s operat ions.

First, as a centre accumulating information in the field of community development, the CRC would already have an infrastructure to serve a pro-active role in identifying opportunities that would benefit service providers and/or communit y-based organizations. For example, if the CRC identifies an opportunity or finds a new program funding, it would distribute the information to its members and encourage action.

Second, the CRC could readily provide sources of information on case studies, challenges and opportunities regarding community-based development identified from the information flow through the Centre. The CRC would also identify, stimu late and encourage scholars and practitioners to take a collaborative approach to research in relevant topics or issues in the field of community development as that emerge.

To accomplish these functions CRC would require to undertake the following activities:

Catalogue Development

The CRC would develop a comprehensive catalogue linked to existing resources, experiences, institutions, agencies, and practitioners in the field of community development primarily in Nova Scotia. The sources for building the catalogue would be diverse. Existing literature and locations would be identified and linked and a strategy implemented to provide for information generators to maintain the currency and availability of their data bases.

Communication Strategy

Access and outreach are fundamental aspects of the proposed CRC. There is a rich existing infrastructure of electronic formats in Nova Scotia. Currently, there are 117 CAP-Sites in the province, several community electronic networks, an d the Internet. Given this context, CRC’s communication strategy would use electronic formats. A web page, creation of a distribution list, establishing discussion groups and creating a list-serve would to facilitate the flow of information among members, the CRC and the public in general. However, since a number of community organizations and volunteers have no access to electronic formats, particularly small rural communities, a live voice and a hard copy (via mail or fax) would be available upon reques t. The CRC would use Public Service Announcements on community channels and, possibly, advertising on local radio stations to encourage citizen’s use of information services.





The CRC would require a small staff that is dedicated to service and could make efficient use of technological resources. The chief executive officer must be able to serve the leadership functions of the board, respond and help provide rs respond effectively to the service requirements of the user constituency and maintain the financial inegrity and accountability of the Centre.

In principle, short term developmental and highly specialized technical work should be done under contract using local university and private sector resources that are competing to stay on the cutting edge of the technologies. Centre staff should do the work where the build up of experience from working with clients makes performance increasingly effective.

Accordingly, in general, management, service and monitoring and interpolating information should be in the Centre, probably initially with a staff of three or four. Library development, data base and information build-up, linkages and technology set-up functions would be contracted.

Models Of Organization

The consultation suggested that the CRC be organized under one of two models: a co-operative enterprise or a non-profit organization. After consideration, the Board concluded that a not-for profit Corporation would be the most appropria te with the intention to seek tax deductible status for donations.

The Community Resource Centre as a Not-for-Profit Corporation

A not-for-profit organization is an entity with a public beneficiary. It is established by volunteers and is open to public scrutiny. Although it is governed by volunteers who have common interest in building community capacity, the me mbers do not received direct personal benefit. Under this model, the CRC would embody the voluntary spirit to increase the chances for development of the whole field of community development in the Province. As a not-for-profit organization CRC would emph asise:

Public Participation: Any citizen-organization interested in building community capacity could be a member and participate in developing the CRC. Every member has one vote, regardless of the position in the organization or any ot her kind of involvement in the society (The exception is paid staff who normally are not eligible to vote).

Equity: There are no direct monetary benefits for the members, Board of Directors, nor for the volunteers who are involved in the organization. There is no financial gain for staff or Board members. Organization’s revenues and " ;profits" are directly reinvested in the development of the organization.

Wide Ownership: Membership can be wide open and anyone who supports the aims of the organization can become a member. The board of directors and members of CRC would not have stock ownership. As a voluntary organization it may ac cumulate surpluses, which would be reinvested fully in its own development.

Not-for-profit organizations ordinarily receive a large proportion of their revenues from public "funding," private donations or fundraising, and many are eligible as charitable organization to give receipts for tax reduction for d onors.

Membership and Fees

The CRC would develop a broad-based membership from the categories of community development presented above. Membership fees could be a one set fee for all members, or a differentiated category fee which initially might range from a $15 for students, seniors, youth or unemployed, modest increases for community based initiatives, and a range from $50 to $250 for practitioners, trainers, government and other private sector corporations.

Fees for service at all levels will have to be related to the value of the services to the users.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The Board would engage a consultant to work with the participating groups and management to prepare an evaluation framework and monitoring process. The intent would be to provide the means to enable all participants, users, providers, the staff and the Board to sustain the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of CRC governance and operations.


Following is an indicative budget containing much more detailed information than can be sustained on the basis of the strategy as outlined. It is provided as a basis for estimating possible costs of the functions outlined and is prese nted without prejudice to a working budget which would be an important component of the business plan to be prepared following consultation and agreement to proceed.

Although issues of sustainability will be carefully suggested in the Business Planning stage, it could be anticipated that the CRC will require a significant public funding at the outset of its operations and gradually it would expand-d iversify its sources for revenue so that the CRC would have a descending government contribution in the following years. This effort will go along with building its credibility and ability to generate revenues for its development. However, the CRC will r equire a dedicated, dynamic and entrepreneurial leadership from the Board and staff so that they will pursue Non-traditional funding sources.


Year One

Year Two

Year Three





CRC Staff




Technical Consulting Services




Infrastructure: office equipment; stationary, etc




Development Costs: data-base software, server networking, acquisition of resources, etc.




Board Expenses: Travel








Mileage, communication, rent
















Projected Revenues






Membership Fee (a)




Listing Fees (b)




Government (Federal-Provincial) (c)




Private Corporate Sector (d)




Foundations (CED-TAP and others)










* A more accurate and detailed financial projection with potential sources would be developed in the Business Plan. However, this three-year budget is a general reference to consider the creation and operation of CRC.

** In the second year, this service would be contracted as maintenance and the third year would be followed up by the Managerial Assistant.

*** This amount is to up-date technology and software

**** This expense is estimated at 400Km per person/meeting x 4 meetings, x 15 members, x 0.31cts/km

(a) The membership contribution for Year One is estimated: 7 members @ $250 from government funded agencies, 1 from corporate private sector @ $250; 10 @ $50 CED practitioner; 10 at $20 membership and 30 members @ $10 Fee = $3,000. Year two would incre ase the membership particularly in the Corporate and CED practitioner sectors. The third year would be a the pick of membership contribution. It would increase in relation to previous years as result of quality and useful information.

(b) Agencies, consultants or services providers interested in listing their services in web page will pay a fee of $150 per year. It is estimated to have 20 agencies/service providers listed ($3,000)

(c) Several government departments are adopting a community capacity building approach to complement the decentralization and downsizing process. It seems logical that they would have and interest and commitment to this initiative.

(d) Private sector, particularly with provincial scope operations would find interesting to support this initiative that eventually would outreach a large audience and primarily community leaders. This would be an excellent PR mechanism.

The Canada CED Network has access to CED-TAP funding up to $25,000 and several foundations now have made available funding for community based initiatives.



A Community Resource Centre, as described in the above report, will not happen unless its ownership is taken over by the volunteer and community groups who need it, working hand in hand with those who provide services to this sector. Moreover, unless the services are truly value added, generate real savings in volunteer and community energy and materially increase effectiveness of action for community and personal benefit, resources will not be diverted to launch and sustain the enterprise.

Your interest and comments on this draft strategy are required, both to record your interest and to provide further guidance to the board in the next step of preparing a draft business plan. Subject to the interest and comments the Interim Board will prepare a draft business plan for review in a public workshop forum to be scheduled for the early fall.

Return to the Questionnaire

1 From ACEDI Report to the Interim Board, May 1999.

2 The Atlantic CED Institute, and other organizations separately, have compiled a substantial number of existing experiences
   in community-based development in Nova Scotia.