When we came together this same time last year for ORFA’s annual general meeting, we openly shook hands with our friends and colleagues without rushing to sanitize those same hands, we sat next to new people without wearing a mask, and we talked with less than a two metre distance about our industry, and what’s been going on over the past year. Physical distancing wasn’t a phrase we used when talking about people coming into our facilities. Neither was limiting the number of people coming onto our ice surfaces or into our pools. I wrote in last years President’s Report about looking ahead for the “new and exciting challenges” that were coming in 2020. In reflection, the challenges were new, but not exciting!
When March 2020 hit and the Emergency Declaration was announced by the Province of Ontario, we experienced unprecedented closures and cancellations not only in our province, but across the country and the world. No one knew at the time how long the closures would last, so the ORFA had to make hard decisions to cancel events as well. During this time, the ORFA staff and the board of directors didn’t lose sight of our vision, our mission or our core business. We collectively worked harder behind the scenes with resource development and access to information specific to COVID-19 for the betterment of the membership. We invested resources on a new learning management system that would allow us to move forward with new online courses and create a dedicated training portal for ORFA members.
Since April, the ORFA has released five webinars to the membership. Attendance has ranged from 300 plus to over 500 plus members joining in. There are also five podcasts available to listen to on key topics during the pandemic. The summer edition of the Facility Forum magazine has informative articles on COVID-19 and some of our online courses have been updated and added to the new learning management system. With this new system you have 24/7 access to learning materials, receive your marks in real time, along with the ability to review all the material again at a future date. This LMS is easy to use and is a welcome addition to the benefits of being an ORFA member.
The updated online courses are Safe Ice Resurfacer Operator, Safe Arena Refrigeration Plant Owner/Operator, Recreation Facility Cleaning, Disinfection and Sanitizing Principals and Basic Arena Refrigeration. To add to that, there are now four instructor lead courses online - Leadership Skills for Recreation Professionals, Advanced Recreation Business Management I & II, and Events Planning and Management. All of this information is at ORFA.com under the Events or the Resource Centre tabs. I highly recommend reviewing the website as this is a huge benefit of membership and there is so much information not only for COVID-19, but your industry that you work in every day.
None of this could have been done without the dedication from our CAO, John Milton and the ORFA staff. The skill and commitment from this team is second to none. On behalf of the Board of Directors I would like to say thank you for everything you do to make sure the ORFA keeps moving forward.
To our current Board of Directors, I have said it before, but you are an amazing group of people! I feel very privileged in getting to know you and being able to work with you over these past two years. Thank you for everything you have done and especially this year for your strong decision making and sense of team.
As this was an election year, I would also like to thank all members who put their names forward for nominations and I would like to encourage more members to get involved within your association. Congratulations to our returning Board of Directors and congratulations to our new board members. It is also a time to say thank you to departing Board member Stephen Mearns for your dedication and commitment to the association over the last four years, I wish you all the best.
To our outgoing Past President Ross Rankin, thank you for your friendship over the past six years and everything you have done for the ORFA. I wish you luck on your new journey at the Town of Carlton Place. To our incoming President Cathy Seguin, I look forward to your guidance as President of the ORFA and our continued friendship.
Ed Greer, CRFP, CIT, CARPT, CAT, CBT