MVA Annual Report, 2014 -15

Metro Vancouver Alliance is a broad-based alliance of 52 community groups, labour, faith and educational institutions working together for the common good. MVA brings together diverse civil society organizations to create new capacity in a community for leadership development, citizen-led action and relationships across the lines that often divide our communities.

The members of Metro Vancouver Alliance are institutions: congregations, labor unions, educational bodies, co-operatives, small business, non-profits, and neighborhood organizations that share a concern for the well-being of their community.

The aim of MVA is to strengthen the voice of citizens and take action on issues of common concern. The Alliance builds on more than 70 years of community organizing experience developed by the Industrial Areas Foundation, with sister organizations across the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and the UK.

Organizations that join MVA do so in order to:

  • Develop leadership and strengthen community within and between their institutions
  • Build bridges across longstanding divisions that isolate communities from each other
  • Build their capacity to act against the root causes of inequality and injustice

MVA has charitable status through its educational arm, Industrial Areas Foundation Canada,

Highlights of the past year

This has been Metro Vancouver Alliance’s first year as a fully founded affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation. This represents a significant change in direction. MVA is now operating on the public stage as an organization engaged in active campaigning.  At the same time, we continue to focus on leadership training, institutional development and recruitment of new member organizations.

Over the past year we have:

  • Increased our dues paying membership from 47 to 52 labour, faith, community, and educational organizations. (See list below.)
  • Built a solid, diverse leadership team who are actively involved in all aspects of the work of MVA. Over 80 people have played significant roles in running the organization, holding assemblies, carrying out campaigns and building teams inside their own institutions.
  • Established four Research Action Teams that developed specific proposals to take to the Delegates Assembly for approval prior to the November 2014 municipal election. 
  • Held a Municipal Election Accountability Assembly attended by 800 delegates from MVA’s member organizations, invited community leaders, politicians, guests and observers. The assembly succeeded in gaining commitments from all four major Vancouver municipal parties to MVA’s proposals and significantly raised our public profile.
  • Began active campaigning on our four priority areas of Poverty, Transit, Housing and Social Isolation. MVA is working as part of the larger Living Wage for Families campaign to hold the City of Vancouver to the Mayor’s commitment to implement a municipal living wage policy. MVA has played a significant role in the YES campaign on the transit referendum, holding transit forums across the city to help people learn more about the issue and discuss their own transit stories. Our Housing Campaign Action Team met with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, city councillors and staff on April 1st to begin work on our proposal to build permanent affordability into all new developments. MVA’s Social Inclusion action group is developing a pilot permitting policy that will make it easier for small organizations to hold local events. They are also building neighbourhood clusters that can build relationships and work together on local issues.
  • Built a governance structure and financial base to sustain and support the organization


MVA staff

Deborah Littman took up the post of Lead Organizer in June 2011. Deborah came to MVA from London Citizens (www.citizensuk.org.uk), a thriving broad-based community organization in the UK.  She previously worked for UNISON, a large UK public service union where she was one of the founders of the UK and BC living wage campaigns.

Emma Rigg is just back from Australia. She has experience working in retail and is working in a support role for MVA.

MVA is fortunate to have regular support from students doing their population health promotion practicums in the VCC B.Sc.N. program. Over the past year the students have been working on a demographic survey of MVA member institutions.

Municipal Election Assembly

The Municipal Election Accountability Assembly on Oct. 9 was attended by 800 delegates from MVA’s member organizations, invited community leaders, politicians, guests and observers. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe, COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong and Green Party Councilor Adriane Carr attended. The assembly succeeded in gaining commitments from all four major Vancouver municipal parties to MVA’s proposals and significantly raised our public profile.

The Municipal Election Accountability Assembly was the culmination of a year and half’s work by our member organizations as they defined and developed MVA’s agenda for action.  The Assembly marked the beginning a new phase for MVA, moving from listening/researching and framing our issues, to negotiating on our concrete proposals.
Municipal Election Accountability Assembly generated very significant recognition, interest and excitement amongst our own members, the media and the wider public. This has given MVA the opportunity to:

recruit new organizations into membership

strengthen teams inside our member institutions

encourage new people to join Campaign/Action teams and take part in training

build relationships with civic and faith leaders, politicians and decision-makers

gain significant media coverage and interest in MVA’s work. Examples of coverage by the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Courier, 24 hours and News 1130 can be found here.

Video clips from the Assembly can be found on here.

The Listening Campaign

MVA’s original Listening Campaign was launched at the Organizing for Action Assembly at First Lutheran Church in May 2013. Over the following nine months training sessions were offered to help organizations plan and carry out listening in their institutions. The hundreds of one-to-one conversations and small group meetings that followed helped to identify the concerns that mattered most to the members of MVA organizations. The four issues that emerged as common priorities were Housing, Poverty, Transit, and Social Isolation. These four issues were announced at the Founding Assembly on March 19, 2014.

Over the past year MVA has continued to offer training in listening. Member organizations and neighborhood clusters have carried out listening exercises in order to:

  • Strengthen internal relationships within or between neighboring institutions
  • Identify issues their members want to work on internally or with others in their neighborhood

The extended listening campaign, has:

  • helped to build MVA teams inside of member institutions
  • surfaced new leaders willing to facilitate listening sessions
  • given member organizations new ideas for engaging with their own members
  • supported the priorities chosen for our public campaigns

A new round of listening is planned to help the Campaign Action Teams refine and gauge support for their proposals.

Research/Campaign Action Teams

Four Research Action Teams on housing, transit, poverty and social isolation met through the summer and fall of 2014 to carry out background research and develop a set of concrete, achievable proposals that could be brought to the Municipal Election Accountability Assembly in October 2014. The proposals were amended and approved by the MVA membership at the Delegates’ Assembly on Sept. 17, 2014. Following the Municipal Election Assembly, the Research Action Teams transitioned to become Campaign Action Teams, now renamed Affordable Housing, Income Justice, Transit and Social Inclusion. The teams have been developing strategy and leading campaign activity on MVA’s four issues. Current co-chairs of the Campaign Action Teams are listed in Appendix 1.

Training

One of the most important ways in which MVA builds leadership skills and develops links between potential member organizations is through our program of training. Over the past year over 200 community leaders from more than 50 organizations have participated in MVA’s Community Leadership Institutes and other training events. Participants have come from unions, faith institutions, Neighborhood Houses, non-profits, youth groups, schools, colleges and co-ops. Many participants have come back to form part of the teaching team at subsequent trainings.

MVA held two Community Leadership Institutes on Nov. 7-8, 2014 and Jan. 30-31, 2015. Three people attended Regional IAF training in Spokane, June 22-27, 2014. Three of MVA’s union leaders participated in the International Labour Retreat held by IAF Northwest in December 2014. They were joined by colleagues from IAF organizations in Seattle, Spokane, Portland and Sydney, Australia.

Three MVA leaders will be attending IAF National Training in Los Angeles June 23-30, 2015.

Along with regular leadership institutes, MVA has mounted specialized training, including:

  • Presentations to school, college and university classes
  • ‘Orientations’ or short introductions to MVA for leaders in member institutions
  • Story-telling workshop jointly with Hospital Employees Union
  • A series of training sessions on Listening Campaign skills delivered to specific sectors or organizations
  • Sponsored a talk by Austen Ivereigh on June 10 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Catholic Social Teaching, Pope Francis and The Call to Action

Publicity

The Municipal Election Accountability Assembly and our campaign work helped MVA to build new relationships with journalists and gained us coverage, both within our member institutions and in the wider press and media.
Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun has cited MVA for our work in building relationships between diverse groups and finding common ground.

"The Metro Vancouver Alliance might be one of the best recent examples of diverse leaders focusing on the commonwealth. Vancouver Catholic Archbishop Michael Miller and Anglican Bishop Melissa Skelton are among the religious, educational and community leaders who are co-operating to work for economic justice. If we change our way of thinking, it’s not that hard to find common cause." Read his article here.

MVA launched a new NationBuilder website in November 2014. Many thanks to Patrick Bragg and PSAC for their support in this project. MVA also provided information tables at key community events, including: Reconciliation in Action, HEU Convention, Labour Day and Archdiocese of Vancouver One Conference.

Building Membership

MVA’s current membership stands at 52 member organizations and 2 sponsoring organizations (see list attached). The following organizations joined over the past 12 months:

  • St. James Anglican Church (incorporating former member St. James Anglican Church Social Justice Group)
  • Vancouver Community College (incorporating former member BSN Nursing Department, Vancouver Community College)
  • BC Teachers’ Federation
  • Populace Vancouver Society
  • HandyDART Riders’ Alliance


MVA has a very active Board and Leaders’ Group which hold one-to-one meetings with leaders in faith, community, education and labour organization. These ‘relational’ meetings are aimed at getting a better understanding of the person, their concerns and those of their organization. The goal is to identify where leaders and institutions share common interests which could be best advanced by being part of a broad-based community organization. Interested leaders are urged to attend training and to invite MVA to make formal presentations to their decision-making bodies.

Governance

MVA is registered under the Society Act and overseen by a Board of Directors, made up of three representatives each of faith, labour and community member organizations.

Current MVA Board of Directors

Faith: Gail Berger, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church | Victoria Marie, Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community | Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles, North Shore Justice Group

Labour: Paul Finch, BC Government Employees Union | Joey Hartman, Vancouver and District Labour Council |
Carlos Moreira, UNIFOR 111

Community: Scott Clark, ALIVE | Jack Jardine, SPARXC | Paul Taylor, Association of Neighborhood Houses of BC

Seconded: George Pinto (Treasurer), Archdiocese of Vancouver

As we transitioned to a ‘founded’ organization, MVA put in place a more formal governance structure. The aim was to encourage the widest possible participation in the leadership of MVA. The following structure has been operating over the past year:

  • a nine-member Board constituted in line with current by-laws (3 faith, 3 labour, 3 community)
  • a ‘delegates’ assembly’ made up of representatives from every member institution.
  • A strategy team made up MVA officers (Co-Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer) and co-chairs of teams and committees. This group carries out the day-to-day running of the organization, alongside the lead organizer.
  • Teams and committees to include:
    • Five ‘Founding’ teams (logistics, floor team, publicity, turnout, program)
    • Four Campaign Action Teams (Affordable Housing, Income Justice, Transit and Social Inclusion)
    • Neighborhood Clusters (DTES/Strathcona, North Shore, South Vancouver)
    • Committees (education, fundraising, co-ordination)

IAF Canada

MVA is affiliated to Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) Canada, which has charitable status. The first IAF Canada AGM took place on Sept. 23, 2013. Robert Doll is the IAFC Director representing MVA. Robert has worked with the Directors from the other affiliates, Greater Edmonton Alliance (GEA) and Metropolitan Alliance for the Common Good in Calgary (MACG) to carry out the procedures for the Foundation. All three affiliates contributed $200.00 to IAFC to start the funding pool. MVA has raised $4,950 in donations and secured a grant of $5,000 from the Hawthorn Foundation which has been available for our Translation Project, which is developing our capacity to provide training in languages other than English. The work of IAF Canada is overseen by MVA Lead Organizer, Deborah Littman.

Finances

Funding for the work of MVA comes from a combination of membership dues, sponsoring contributions from regional/provincial organizations, grant income and charitable donations. MVA does not take government money.

MVA’s income for 2014 was $77,249.33 and our expenditure was $100,549.46, leaving a deficit of $23,210.13. MVA’s opening balance for 2014 was $35,882.37, leaving a net surplus of $12,672.24.

The deficit in 2014 was caused largely by the costs of mounting two major assemblies in one financial year. Efforts will needed to increase our fundraising capacity for 2015. The Fundraising Committee has estimated that the current global budget would need to rise to $150,000 - $200,000 in 2015 to support the organization’s activities and recruit a second organizer, full or part-time.

Dues form the core of MVA’s funding. Currently dues make up 65% of the budget, grants 28% and other fees and fundraising 7%. The goal is to raise both the absolute amount of dues collected and the proportion of the budget represented by raising dues levels and recruiting new members.

This would allow the employment of a second organizer and fully fund campaigns and public assemblies. The Fundraising Committee has developed plans for reaching this income target. These include:

  • Setting a minimum dues level of $500 annually, which has taken effect in 2015. Existing member organizations paying less would retain their membership are being offered assistance in raising their dues levels through fundraising. Similar help will be offered to new organizations wishing to join.
  • Continuing to recruit new organizations
  • Pursuing new avenues of grant funding
  • Adding MVA to the list of potential recipients for the United Way and other fundraising campaigns
  • Developing creative ideas for fundraising events and activities

Plans for the future

Over the next 12 months MVA will:

Organize:

  • Continue to reach out to potential new member institutions, particularly in those sectors not yet represented in the Alliance
  • Continue to consolidate membership by building and strengthening core teams inside member institutions
  • Build clusters of member institutions in local areas

Develop Leadership:

  • Continue to hold 2-day Leadership Institutes and other forms of training
  • Facilitate participation of MVA leaders in regional and national IAF training
  • Encourage new leaders to take part in Campaign Action Teams and other MVA committees
  • Work with member organizations to develop their own leaders

Campaign:

  • Bring the work of the Campaign Action Teams back into the member institutions, carrying out further listening, power analysis and campaign planning
  • Hold a Federal Election Accountability Assembly in one swing Riding  in autumn 2015 to gain political commitments to our agenda
  • Carry out strategic action in support of our proposals
  • Share campaign experience with other IAF affiliates


MVA Member Organizations

LABOUR

  • BC Government and Service Employees’ Union
  • BC Teachers’ Federation
  • Burnaby Civic Employees’ Union, CUPE 23
  • Canadian Labour Congress, Pacific Region
  • Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Vancouver Local
  • CUPE Metro
  • Hospital Employees’ Union
  • International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 400
  • Public Service Alliance Vancouver Region
  • UNIFOR Local 111
  • UNIFOR Local 465
  • United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1518
  • The Vancouver and District Labour Council


COMMUNITY GROUPS

  • ALIVE (Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement) Society
  • Association of Neighborhood Houses of BC (ANHBC)
  • Vancouver Community College
  • Burnaby Taskforce on Homelessness
  • Capilano University School of Communication
  • The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
  • Carnegie Community Centre Association
  • FCA (Fraser Valley Regional District [FVRD] Citizens Association)
  • Jackson Avenue Co-op
  • Habonim-Dror
  • HandyDART Riders Alliance
  • Populace Restaurant
  • Public Education Network Society (PENS)
  • Raycam Co-operative Centre
  • Reach Community Health Centre
  • Single Mothers’ Alliance of BC
  • Smart Change
  • Women Transforming Cities

FAITH GROUPS

  • Canadian Baptists of Western Canada
  • Downtown Eastside (DTES) Catholic Parishes
  • Eco-Justice Unit of the Anglican Diocese of   New Westminster
  • Fairview Baptist Church
  • First Lutheran Church
  • Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
  • KAIROS BC - Yukon
  • Longhouse Council of Native Ministry
  • North Shore Social Justice Working Group
  • Presbytery of Westminster Social Justice Action Committee (The Presbyterian Church in Canada)
  • Oblates of Mary Immaculate
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Parish
  • Servant Partners
  • Sisters Association of the Archdiocese of Vancouver
  • Sisters of the Instruction of the Child Jesus
  • St. Augustine’s Catholic Parish
  • St. Catherine’s Anglican Church
  • St. Clement’s Anglican Church
  • St. James’ Anglican Church
  • St. James’ Anglican Church Social Justice Group
  • St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Parish
  • St. Laurence Anglican Church
  • St. Mary’s Catholic Parish
  • St. Thomas’s Anglican Church

SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS

  • Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver
  • Vancity Savings Credit Union


MVA Leadership

MVA Board

Faith: Gail Berger, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church | Vicky Marie, Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community | Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles, North Shore Justice Group

Labour: Paul Finch, BC Government Employees Union | Joey Hartman, Vancouver and District Labour Council | Carlos Moreira, UNIFOR 111

Community: Scott Clark, ALIVE | Jack Jardine, SPARXC | Paul Taylor, Association of Neighborhood Houses of BC

Seconded: George Pinto (Treasurer), Archdiocese of Vancouver

Co-chairs Campaign Action Teams

Affordable Housing – Tino Veralas, St. Augustine’s Catholic Church; Pat McSherry Carnegie Community Centre

Income Justice – Gail Berger, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church; Paul Taylor, Association of Neighborhood Houses of BC

Transit – Bruce Murray, UNIFOR 111; Maria Robinson, Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community

Social Inclusion – Paul Clark, St. North Shore Justice Group; Jayne Fenrich, St. Thomas’s Anglican Church

Co-chairs Founding Teams:

Logistics – Eric Angel, SFU School of Resource and Environmental Management, Tino Veralas, , St. Augustine’s Catholic Church

Turnout – Pat McSherry, Carnegie Community Centre; Paul Cark, North Shore Justice Group; Patrick Bragg, PSAC

Program – Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles, St. North Shore Justice Group, Deb Cameron-Fawkes, UFCW 1518

Publicity – Patrick Bragg, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Floor Team – Mike Glanville, Downtown Eastside Parishes; Sara Bjorknas, CUPE Metro

Co-chairs Committees:

Co-ordinating Committee – Carlos Moreira, UNIFOR 111, Patrick Bragg, PSAC, Margaret Marquardt, Eco-Justice Unit of the Anglican Archdiocese, Joey Hartman, VDLC, Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles, North Shore Justice Group
Training – Margaret Marquardt, Eco-Justice Unit of the Anglican Archdiocese, Deb-Cameron Fawkes, UFCW 1518

Finance and Fundraising – Jack Jardine, SPARXC; Pat McSherry, Carnegie Community Centre

Translation Team - Amie Peacock, South Vancouver Neighborhood House, Maria Glanville, DTES Catholic Parishes, Maria Luisa Locsin

Thanks to the hundreds of MVA leaders who have contributed their time and energy to building the Alliance and supporting its work.

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