Category: site redevelopment

Can we penetrate the darkness?

The featured image for this posting is the detail of a drawing titled “Many suns cannot penetrate the darkness” created in 1989 by the late long time Vancouver Unitarian member Daphne Naegele. Now, 30 years after Daphne created this image and posed this question, we are still faced with it — can Unitarian Universalism help penetrate the darkness? Part of the answer to this question resides in our capacity to sustain ourselves financially. To examine our options, the UCV board has created a task force to examine the many facets of this question over the summer and fall. Get in touch with Sheila Resels or Keith WIlkinson if you’d like to be part of this discussion.

The UCV Board established a Financial Sustainability Task Force (FSTF) in July 2019. The purpose of the Task Force is to review and strengthen the financial sustainability of the Vancouver Unitarian congregation in the face of reduced levels of pledging, possibly static membership growth, and the general decline of religious community across North America over recent decades.

The Task Force includes the following working groups and teams:

  1. Membership Growth Team
  2. Member Generosity Team (which includes the Canvass Committee)
  3. Legacy Team
  4. Space Use Team
  5. Transition Team
  6. Site Development Team
  7. Investments Committee
  8. Fundraising Events Team
  9. Risk Review Team
  10. Marketing/Fundraiser Initiative Team
  11. UCV Internal Funds Review Initiative
  12. UCV (ad hoc) Budget Committee
  13. Other working groups/teams approved by the Board.

These groups and teams are relatively self-directed and are guided by the recent working document UCV Financial Sustainability Matrix. The working groups and teams are expected to prepare reports in time for the board and the congregation to discuss them well in advance of the 2019 AGM scheduled for late fall 2019 when a vote of the membership regarding possible site redevelopment is anticipated.

For further information, or to provide support to some of these working groups, please contact one of the co-chairs of the Financial Sustainability Task Force (FSTF):

Redevelopment Mini-Messages – July 9th

Campus Redevelopment Update #1

How do I keep informed? Get Involved?

There are 5 work groups involved in specific topics. Starting September 15 the Planning Committee will host 5 special Sunday forums. For information and participation: Planning Committee: Gordon Gram (gordongram@me.com) Michael Clague (mclague@telus.net).

Campus Redevelopment Update #2

Why redevelop?

Concerned about long-term financial sustainability, the board in November 2016 established a planning committee to explore redeveloping part of the campus (while retaining ownership) with non-market rental housing to generate additional revenues. A business plan is underway to determine if these objectives can be met, for decision in November 2019.

For information and participation: Gordon Gram (gordongram@me.com) Michael Clague (mclague@telus.net).

Campus Redevelopment Update #3

To redevelop or not?

The business plan at the AGM November 17 will be deciding whether not to proceed. Two other groups are examining alternatives to redevelopment: retaining/improving Hewett Centre (Buildings and Grounds Committee); exploring expanded sources of revenue (Keith Wilkinson).

For information and participation: Gordon Gram (gordongram@me.com) Michael Clague (mclague@telus.net).

Campus Redevelopment Up-Date: #4

Why now?

55 years ago members of this church made the most important decision they could: to buy property at 49th and Oak. Now a similar decision is at hand with our AGM on November 17; whether or not to build non-market rental housing and a new Hewett Centre for the financial security of UCV for the next 50 years. 5 special forums planned starting September 15 sponsored by the Planning Committee and Circle of Concern.

For information and participation: Gordon Gram (gordongram@me.com) Michael Clague (mclague@telus.net).

Campus Redevelopment Up-Date #5

What is the redevelopment package?

A 95 unit, 6 story, non-market rental housing, 50% to accommodate families; a new Hewett Centre (financed out of the project). The package is to generate a growing revenue stream for the church into the future.

For information and participation: Gordon Gram (gordongram@me.com) Michael Clague (mclague@telus.net).

Campus Redevelopment Up-Date #6

What are the concerns?

Timing is bad: we will be recruiting a new minister; volunteer and staff resources will be over-stretched; carrying on during construction. What about just up-grading the Hewett Centre? Members can get involved in these and other issues with 5 member work groups and 5 special Sunday forums sponsored by the Planning Committee starting September 15th. For information and participation: Gordon Gram (gordongram@me.com) Michael Clague (mclague@telus.net).

Campus Redevelopment Up-Date #7

What stage is redevelopment at?

The City has given support in principle to apply for rezoning for non-market rental housing and a new Hewett Centre subject to discussions that include the Hornbeam Trees on 49th Avenue and potential up-grades for the heritage – designated Sanctuary. The board will bring a recommendation to the November 17th AGM.

For information and participation: Gordon Gram (gordongram@me.com) Michael Clague (mclague@telus.net).

Campus Redevelopment Up-Date #8

If we decide to redevelop, how do we maintain church programs during a 2.5 year construction period possibly starting Spring 2022?

A transition plan with costs is being developed by John Boyle, Elliott Dainow, and Connie Wigmore.

Campus Redevelopment Up-Date #9

What is the vision?

The following statement was approved in the proposal to prepare a business plan for redevelopment by 64% of members in attendance at the 2018 ExtraOrdinary General Meeting:

At this mid-century point of its life, our vision for the campus of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver for the next 50 years is that of a compelling, beautiful, intergenerational home for Unitarians to worship and to celebrate, one respectful of the original design, one that provides an affordable place to live for a cross-section of our community, and a place for all Vancouverites to gather for spiritual enquiry, to enjoy arts and culture, and to engage in dialogue and action on matters of social justice and the environment.

Redevelopment? Circle of Concerns Workshop

About 40-45 people attended the Circle of Concerns Workshop after the service on May 2, 2019 to share and explore their questions and concerns about the current UCV site redevelopment project.

This workshop was a followup event to the March 31 Listening Circle forum where at least 35 congregants gathered to share their questions and concerns. Issues raised at this fell into eight categories. There was considerable support at the forum for a followup workshop to extend this conversation to include more congregants and to explore the concerns and issues in more depth. (See http://tinyurl.com/y65th8hn for more information about the Listening Circle event; you can find the 3-page report from that meeting here: Mar31 Sharing Circle report.

The May 2 Circle of Concerns Workshop is the followup to the March 31 Listening Circle forum.
The intent of all these activities is bring new voices to the redevelopment conversation. There is no intent or desire to create divisions or dissensions; on the contrary, we believe that we will make better decisions when we include all voices.

Here is a summary of the notes from the Circle of Concerns Workshop. (You can get an electronic copy of the full notes here: May 26 Circle of Concern minutes.)

Top 3 concerns

Participants at the Circle of Concerns Workshop identified their top 3 areas of concern from the 8 categories identified in the March 31 Listening Circle forum, with these results:

Concern

Weighted votes

Timing

59

Existential Threats

53

Vision

41

Ability to Complete

15

Site redevelopment

14

Affordable housing

13

During construction

9

Design elements

2

No concerns

0

 

Groups were formed to discuss the top 3 concerns.
Here are some selected comments from these discussions:

Timing

  • The combination of an interim minister and temporary meeting places in trailers will lead to losing congregants and it will harder to attract new people. It will be very hard to maintain our regular activities and social events. The timing sucks!
  • Everyone in this group felt very strongly that it is essential to have the new settled minister in place before undertaking redevelopment. It will be a recipe for disaster if we do not have strong leadership.
  • We will limit the number and perhaps quality of ministerial candidates if a redevelopment project is a front issue for the new minister. It will be a threat to the very existence of the church if we cannot get a satisfactory new minister.
  • Proceeding with redevelopment under these circumstances can create a lot of stress and can lead to an antagonistic, divisive, destructive atmosphere.
  • We should not see our current exploration of redevelopment as a failure if we do not proceed with it.

Vision

  • The vision is the base – we should start with a vision.
  • We need a formal statement of how this project will exemplify our UU values.
  • A compelling vision would have housing affordability and environmental concerns built in; the current design doesn’t reflect our ideals because the social and environmental benefits are modest.
  • We have a chance to make an architectural statement; need more imagination – invite artists and architects to come talk to us.
  • Landlording is a nightmare – and UCV would be at least indirectly in that role. Would we trust a management company to go by our values? Where do we stand in a tenant-landlord issue? How much would we intervene? How much Board involvement would there be?

Existential Threats

  • Do we have the volunteer capacity to carry out this project?
  • How will we get new members during the construction period (2-3 years)?
  • Will our younger congregants be able to sustain this project financially?
  • How do we continue ‘doing church’ during construction (2-3 years)?
  • We are muddling through financially and are kind of sustainable now, so may be wiser to not launch a redevelopment project now, but to instead focus on growing our membership.

How would you vote today?

Workshop participants were asked during the last part of the workshop to indicate on a spectrum of choices what their position is today with regard to the redevelopment project. The following table summarizes their responses.

No.

%

1*

1%

Will likely approve redevelopment project as is or with minor changes.
Will approve only if (check any and all that apply)

13

18%

It is clear that the project fits our values and vision.

13

18%

The project is delayed until we have a new settled minister.

9

13%

Environmental considerations are given higher priority.

8

11%

The design of the building is significantly changed.

8

11%

Can stay on campus and use sanctuary during construction (acceptable washrooms).

4

6%

Possible to create truly affordable housing and still have significant return to UCV.

4

6%

Members step u to volunteer to liaise with developers.

4

6%

Other methods to improve finances are unsuccessful.

2

3%

Hewett Hall is not destroyed. The new building is built elsewhere on campus.

6

8%

Will almost certainly not approve.

72

101%

* maybe

Next steps

  • Hold an open meeting monthly, with chairs in a circle to encourage equal participation.
  • Get input from others who have done similar projects.
  • Who would live here? Survey Vancouver Unitarians to see how many would rent or buy (co-housing)?

UCV Demographics and Pledge Potential (DAPP) Report 2019

Executive Summary

In late 2018 the UCV Board asked interested volunteers to work together to provide some commentary on UCV’s demographics and pledge potential in the context of 2018-19 site development studies led by Michael Clague and Gordon Gram. Over the December 2018 to March 2019 period, a small group examined selected membership data provided by staff and began to examine other web-based resources on demographics and religious organizational trends. The resulting report provides a first analysis of data gathered and makes recommendations for the future.

Findings

  • Donations to UCV averaged $467,186 per year over the past decade excluding bequests but including capital donations. Annual variations have been sizeable. With inflation considered, the total value of donations has declined over the decade.
  • 21 bequests totaling approximately $132,000 were made to UCV over the past decade. The value varied widely year to year as did the size of the individual bequests.
  • Donations increased substantially at times when major capital improvements were being made.
  • The median donation in 2018 was $500 and the average donation was $1,041. Donations in 2018 were the lowest in a decade, totaling $375,734. However, this amount did exceed the $330,000 planned for achieving a balanced budget. A balanced budget also relied on rental and investment revenue. [**See note at bottom of page regarding 2019.]
  • A small number of donors have contributed most to the finances of UCV over the decade. In 2018 forty-two donors (12%) donated 50% of the funds and 319 donors (88%) donated the other 50%.
  • In 2018 the ten top donors (3%) donated 24% of all donations.
  • The ten top donors in 2018 were resident in eight different postal code regions of Metro Vancouver. Three of these resided in Point Grey. The others were, in alphabetical order: Dunbar-Southlands, Hillcrest, Kitsilano, New Westminster, Sunshine Coast, Victoria-Fraserview, and West End.
  • Postal codes were available for 99% of donors. Dates of birth were available for only 18% of donors.
  • Unitarian Universalist congregational membership declined approximately 21% in the USA and 19% in Canada over the period 2005-2015.

Recommendations for UCV

  1. Re-establish and animate a Legacy or Planned Giving Committee to help ensure that UCV members are giving consideration to recognizing UCV in their wills and in annual pledging. Bequests have been a significant source of funding for UCV and could grow as members of UCV age and die. Generous annual pledging is the heart of the church’s financial support.
  2. Give moderately high priority to adding birthdates to the church membership database (Breeze) to facilitate future planning for age-based services, donor planning, and ministerial transition.
  3. Continue to participate, animate, support, and celebrate the work of all Committees and Groups to foster a healthy and generous congregation. Membership and participation matter.
  4. Continue to call highly skilled professional ministers and religious educators. Churches in Canada with this feature seem to do better than those without.
  5. Thank our most generous donors.
  6. Consider asking generous donors to project their capacity to support the church in the future.

See the full 9-page report here: UCV Demographic and Pledge Potential Report – 20190308 Rev A

A site development report providing business plan options and other issues identified to date was distributed at a UCV Forum on 8 May 2019 and afterwards in the church. PDF copies of this report can be obtained by email from Gordon Gram (gordongram@me.com) or Michael Clague (Michael@clagueconsultants.com).

A group of congregants interested in discussing issues related to site development met as a Circle of Concern on 1 Mar 2019 and identified a number of areas needing further consideration. These issues of concern are summarized on this website here. Another forum for discussion of all three of these reports (Circle of Concern, Site Development, and Demographics and Pledge Potential) has been scheduled by the Circle of Concern for 12:30 – 2:30 pm, Sunday 26 May 2019 in the Fireside Room.

—————–

** As of mid May 2019, the average pledge by members and friends of UCV for 2019 was $2,023 per pledging unit (family or individual), and the median (middle point) pledge was $1,500 per pledging unit. Historically, pledge values have been slightly lower than actual donations. The church also has many “casual donors” who receive tax receipts for small donations. This partly accounts for the difference in value of 2019 median pledges and the 2018 median donations.

REDEVELOPMENT?? Update and next step

 

A small group of congregants who felt that their views, and perhaps the views of other congregants, were not clearly reflected in the current UCV redevelopment process and plans met together on March 1 to share their questions and concerns. They identified over 15 concerns and wondered how many others in the congregation had similar questions or concerns. The result was the Listening Circle forum after the March 31 service.

At least thirty-five people attended this Listening Circle forum. Some oppose the redevelopment project, but most are undecided and have some concerns or ambivalence about the current redevelopment project and process. At least five did not express any concerns about the project and several expressed confidence in the current redevelopment process and the redevelopment team.

The 3 page report from this Sharing Circle, based on the flipchart notes from the forum, identified eight categories of concerns that meeting participants shared. This report was presented first to the Board and then to the Redevelopment Committee. It is now being shared with the full congregation. You can get an electronic copy here [Mar31 Sharing Circle report], or a printed copy in the foyer of the sanctuary at Sunday services on May 12, 19, or 26, or in the office.

There was considerable support at the March 31 forum for a followup workshop to extend this conversation to include more congregants and to explore the concerns and issues in more depth. The Board supports this followup workshop.

Please join us in the Fireside room on Sunday, May 26 from 12:30 to 2:30 pm at a Site Redevelopment Circle of Concern Workshop to share any issues or concerns you have about the current redevelopment project and process and to explore these issues and concerns in more depth. If you cannot attend on May 26 but still want to be heard, please send your comments to Rob Dainow at rdainow@gmail.com or (604) 523-0123.