As I sit here on the Tiki Deck, enjoying one of the few remaining sunny afternoons and listening to kids splashing in the pool, it’s easy to think that all is well in the world!
Normally, at this time of the year, I would be excited about my kids heading back to school, cashing in RRSP’s to pay for more hockey equipment, and learning what Senior Men’s team my brother has traded me to for a bag of pucks.
But unfortunately, it’s not a typical September… because it’s not been a typical summer. The past six months has been so surreal, and as I try to plan for the next six months, I find I have more questions than answers. I’m not sure about you but it’s taking me quite a bit of adjusting to adjust to this ‘new normal’! That said, if I have learned one thing over this summer, it is to remind myself of the saying “to each his own”, meaning that as individuals we all have the right to our own opinions and in deciding what is right for ourselves and our families.
In times of crisis, and in times of change, respecting individual expectations while making decisions for the greater community is always a challenge. Since March, your Board of Directors and Management have been actively working hard on your behalf, with a goal of making decisions that are in the overall best interests of all of our members, and as you might expect, we have received feedback as varied as our membership. For example, regarding our Covid policies and protocols, some members feel they have been in perfect balance, while others have expressed that they’ve been too restrictive, while others too light. To each his own!
There is no doubt that Covid has impacted the Board’s priorities, discussions and objectives. At the start of 2020, we had plans for some major capital repairs, such as fixing the outdoor tennis courts and the hot tub (seriously!). We were exploring NEW club amenities and enhancements such as the addition of pickle ball and free play space for kids. In addition, with relocation off the immediate table, we were focused on long-term financial planning for the next decade. Over the last six months our focus, priority and time has been dedicated to member and staff safety, member retention, fiscal restraint and predicting how this ‘new normal’ will impact our members experiences at the Club. It has not been easy.
As you might imagine, nine individuals bring their own thoughts, opinions and fears on many complicated issues. Through it all, I am extremely proud of the Board’s commitment to look at each decision through the perspective of “what is best for our membership as a whole and the entire NSWC community”. I want to take this opportunity to thank your very dedicated Board for their unwavering commitment to the best interests of the club and the membership.
And while on the topic of thank you’s, I have a favour to ask. I have no doubt that you do it anyway, but I would like to ask each and every member to take a moment the next time they are at the Club to say a special thank you to ANY of our many hardworking staff who have all gone above and beyond during these past six months. Imagine the uncertainty, the stress, the changes and the challenges that they have faced during this constantly evolving pandemic. Joanna and her team have simply been rock solid, and I know that I don’t thank them enough, so please join me in a commitment to do more of it (and thank you for that!).
So where are we now? Here is a brief update on a handful of key issues;
Health & Safety
Staff have simply been exceptional at providing a safe environment amidst all of the many, and often changing, Covid requirements. They are in regular contact with our local health authorities and various sport authorities to ensure that the club is as safe as it can be. However, we must remember that it is incumbent upon all of us to follow the proper procedures and also, to protect ourselves and our ‘bubbles’ from risk. Facemasks, social distancing and handwashing remain extremely important, especially now in September as we hear about further outbreaks.
We have been extremely fortunate so far to NOT have any active Covid cases within the club, but it would be unrealistic to think that is not a possibility. Rest assured that we have a plan in place should any one of our members or staff test positive in the coming weeks or months.
On a more positive note, we are thrilled to welcome 33 new full members and 12 summer members to the Club over the past few months who have joined here for swimming, tennis and hockey. While this has been a great boost in membership, it unfortunately will not make up for the significant number of members that decided to leave the club due to the impacts of Covid. As of the end of August, we have roughly 8% less members then we did the same time last year.
As you might imagine, we will have a very difficult year financially. From May through to August we have had drastically reduced revenues, which includes providing all our members with reduced dues while the club was closed or when you had limited access. In addition, participation in programs, rentals and food and beverage is well below normal, while some expenses, such as cleaning costs, are at all time highs. We have been fortunate to qualify for the government wage subsidies, and that has been of great benefit, but that will soon come to an end. As a result, we are projecting significant losses for our fiscal year-end of April 30th, 2021. A detailed summary will be provided at the upcoming AGM on October 22nd.
It’s important to note that the club remains financially healthy overall. We have access to financing should we require it, and while this year will be difficult for us (as it will be for many businesses), our club is not at risk of any financial crisis.
That said, we must be fiscally prudent and do all that we can to keep our losses at a minimum. The Board has directed staff to implement ‘essential spending only’, and while we do not anticipate increasing regular dues at this time, we will be looking at some other revenue items such as sport activity fees and F&B margins.
Relocation & Facility Enhancements
Pre-Covid the Board was actively seeking ways to improve our current amenities and have recently decided that we will continue along that path. We committed to the members that if we were not relocating in the near future, we would invest in our current building. As a result, over the next few months you will be hearing more about important capital initiatives currently being considered such as repairing the outdoor courts, the addition of pickleball to the club, expanded fitness areas to meet distancing requirements and, maybe even a new hot tub!
Hockey is back! The Minor Hockey Committee and our excellent faculty are committed to providing our young boys and girls an exceptional hockey experience this year, with advanced on-ice development, dry land training, great coaches and if possible, some type of competition. Our senior men’s committee is also committed to providing 5 on 5 play within a safe environment and following all of the many Covid recommendations that must be followed. There are so many unknowns at this time with regards to the PCAHA and if a regular season will happen at some point, but we will continue to keep our members updated as new developments happen.
AGM & Board Election
Our AGM is set for October 22nd, and we will have all of the socially distancing protocols in place to allow for attendance in person or if you prefer, on-line. More details will be sent out soon.
I hope this information helps you get up to speed. If you have any questions about the items above or any other Board related matter, please feel free at anytime to email me at email@example.com or to reach out to Joanna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, and in closing, I’d like to make one more request.
As you see your kids on the ice, in the pool, or on the tennis courts… or as you yourself come to the club to participate in your favourite activity with your friends… I think it’s incumbent on each of us to be thankful that we have the NSWC. I think we are very lucky to be part of this amazing NSWC community, and as such, we all have a responsibility to ensure that everyone’s experience at the club, both our fellow members and our staff, is as positive at it can be. It has been, and will remain for the near future, a stressful time. Let’s all do our part to reduce stress, not add to it.
To each his own but together as one!
James Cronk | Board President