There has been some talk recently about the lack of a Community Association in Merrickville, a group that could be a focus for different projects outside of the mandate of Council, etc. In Merrickville there is the Chamber of Commerce, MAG, and the Historical Society, all of which serve niches (special interest groups) in the community. What is missing is a community association that represents a united voice of the community and who can engage with the local council and all other groups on behalf of its citizens.
I hear complaints about what council is doing, or not doing, and that there is at least one development project that could potentially affect Merrickville (and surrounding communities) in a variety of ways. “How come”, they ask, “there’s no person or group championing a significant upgrade to the Merrickville Community Centre? It is – to say the least – a complete dump, and inflexible in terms of customizing the space for a variety of users”.
However, the building is extremely valuable and appropriate, because it is a COMMUNITY asset and not a private interest. There is a plethora of grants available for this kind of project, projects whose gains benefit everyone and not just special interest groups. This would seem to be an excellent project for a Community Association to take on, rather than Council (Council can’t, and shouldn’t, try to do everything). It would be generally easy to get buy-in from many, and the community would end up with an asset supported by the broadest community members and community groups possible.
There is a belief that, in small communities, community projects must trump private projects (especially ones that masquerade as public projects) for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the will is not there to start up another new group, another drain on a community’s limited resources in terms of personnel, energy and time. It is an aspect of our society these days that causes a great deal of worry among older service clubs and community groups: younger people, perhaps young married couples, don’t seem interested in getting involved in their community.
Given that they very often have to spend long times commuting to and from work, and then need family and private time, it is no wonder that there is little left over at the end of a working day to give to community involvement. But what happens in the longer term to neighbourhoods that are reduced to being just bedroom communities? Who will run the Guides and Scouts? Who will take over the reins at Lions Clubs, Rotary, Kinsmen, etc.?
Is it time to rethink all of this and see if there is a different model of community we can develop that will replace the traditional clubs and organisations when they can no longer find enough new members to replace the old guard?
It is said that without a vision the people perish. Where is the new vision for community, and who will step forward to lead the way?