October 16th, 2018
Thank you all for coming to MACO’s 26th Annual General Meeting.
I am proud of the Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners.
It began with its informal beginnings in 1991. It had such support from the original group it was quickly incorporated and began its formal existence in 1992.
It was originally about getting the 10% education tax off property. That is nothing compared to today where many are seeing 50 to 75% of their property tax bill!
Clearly there is much more work to do.
Founder and Past President Doug Neal and his wife were exuberant people with drive and they helped foster this organization into what it is today.
They made it possible for many people over the years to lead, organize, educate, promote, and grow MACO into the resource it is today.
It has taken the passion and input of many people over the years and I wish I had the time to look back and find all those names. I will simply thank them all and thank all of the present Board members for their continued support and initiative to keep MACO growing.
Manitoba needs MACO. It needs the objective views and vision and leadership to help Cottagers and rural residents of Manitoba. We have continued our work with enough class and quality work the Province continues to recognize us as resource.
Governments over the years have also recognized us as a force to be reckoned with. They have even changed legislation, and made programs and changes to education taxes trying to fend off our efforts to prove to Manitobans that the education funding formula in Manitoba is badly broken and a dinosaur that is the last one standing in Canada.
We are much more than that though.
MACO help average people with problems that may seem insignificant to us, but pose huge threats to their enjoyment of their cottages and communities.
We have helped to ensure water levels are maintained on Winnipeg River during reconstruction of Pointe du Bois. MACO have taken part in various consultations about Park Fees and other Hydro projects representing cottage Country.
We have helped people in and out of parks connect with the necessary contacts and resources to deal with their issues. We have helped reform the way the Land Entitlement Act was executed with a massive coalition in Manitoba.
We have had our ideas incorporated into sewage legislation, wetlands policy, safe drinking water act and many other things that most people have no idea came from MACO who took the time to review and propose changes to drafts sent to us by the Province.
We have assisted and supported other groups in time of need such as Lake Manitoba flooding of 2011 and Parks groups like the Whiteshell and others when they needed us.
We have helped try to make change to the way disaster assistance funding is handled. Not successfully, but we have tried.
I can go on for a long time on the accomplishments like these that I have been fortunate enough to witness and be part of. I don’t think we can actually get people to read a complete book of reasons to be members of MACO and why they should be wanting to be members. It would take too long.
We are always there for them even when they are not members. I say that shamelessly because we are truly a community organization for the community. Not for ourselves.
The results are many. They are hard to predict. They are sometimes disappointing, sometimes confusing, but sometimes elating and rewarding when they work. That is lobbying. We can’t win them all but we do our best to try with what we have. Along the way we met new people, made new contacts and enjoyed new relationships.
We are seeing the Point du Bois Dam built completely different than originally planned because of consultations. We are seeing a class action suit approved for residents and cottagers around Lake Manitoba move ahead.
We are seeing the efforts by our Board raise money to make a better newer website. I watched it grow from a single page with a few downloadable files. I debated with a webmaster over the value of pdf file downloads at a time when many did not have internet and smart phones were a Motorola Flip phone with no internet. Remember the Brick phone? Many today don’t even know what that is. It is amazing how far we have come in a short period of time.
We should be so proud of that.
MACO has seen a lot of change in the way it does business. It has had many people contribute in so many ways. Whether writing an editorial, reviewing policy papers, creating new links on our website for our members, updating the ever important Strategic Plan, attending meetings and sharing opinions and ideas, it is all input that keeps this organization strong. Small things people do add up and make something bigger and stronger.
Yes, we have a constant struggle to maintain our membership. It is a huge job. It takes all of us to keep a product people want. In a way, we are a business and we have been very successful. We have had our failings also. That is how we learned to do better.
It always seems like a struggle, but that hard work helps keep us focused to be able to provide our members what they need. They may not need it yet, but they will. They may not have known about us and they found us. They did not know we had a website but they found it. Our hard work is still working. The website tells us so.
I became President of MACO in 2004. Doug Neal, our Past President left in 2004 and with 2 weeks’ notice asked me to take over as President until the next election. I had never run a meeting. I had only joined and become a Director 2 years prior. I became enamoured with MACO because of the help they provided when I wanted to fix the illegal sewage issue in our neighbourhood. This is almost a paradox that out of a battle over sewage, I ended up President of MACO. As a foot note, with growing support from neighbours, Boulder Bay community voted in favour of a sewage bylaw later passed by the Municipality of St. Clements. MACO helped me make that possible. It would not likely have happened without the help.
So with no idea how to run a meeting or even what was involved, I knew that Doug needed me to do this so I figured I would help for a little while to bridge the problem so Doug and Lorraine could join their family in Alberta.
I am still here. Often surprised. Always proud. I thought at some point someone would want to take over.
14 years at the helm I assure you is not because of my skills or because I was great. It is the teamwork and maybe my spirit and willingness to stand up for MACO that is my strongest suit. I gave others a place to help without being out front. Sometimes that is all a leader needs to be. I am not great at anything I do. I have a great group of people who bring all sorts of knowledge and abilities. That is enabling.
Even though our number of Directors is down, I feel that may soon change.
When I became President, we wondered how we would pay the bill at the end of the year. We have a bank account now.
So much has changed and we have so much to work with. Having the problem of so many things we want to do is what makes MACO interesting. It is a problem not having enough people for the workload, but if nobody was interested that would not be a problem. It is a good problem that has to be managed. Our carefully maintained Strategic Plan keeps us in line and helps us realize our limits and goals no matter how lofty.
The other reports you heard tonight from Directors show you the passion and strong intelligent people that make up the Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners Inc Board of Directors.
I am encouraged and pleased to hand the reigns of MACO to someone else in our upcoming election. I know that fresh leadership will bring some changes and I think that is great.
I will always have a special place in my heart for this organization.
I am not running away and will always be available for questions and information. I will be proud to remain not only as a Past President, but active with MACO.
I hope that others read this report and see how much MACO means to Manitoba and will volunteer their help by being Directors and volunteers. It is very rewarding.
I thank you all for your support over the years and hope your interest in MACO will continue to keep MACO a force in Manitoba for years to come.
That is my President’s report.
Please visit the Directors page at any time for names and contacts.