President’s Message Issue 70

Spring 2009 CSANews Issue 70  |  Posted date : Apr 30, 2009.Back to list

I would like to welcome everyone back to Canada. As much as we all enjoy escaping the cold, there really is no place like home.

It was another busy winter on the travel front. Once again, the Snowbird Extravaganzas and Winter Information Meetings tour allowed me to meet many of our members in Florida, Arizona, Texas and California. If you have attended these events, you know that you simply cannot beat the quality of the entertainment and information provided, entirely free of charge. But what is even more important for both myself and your board of directors is that they give us an opportunity to talk to our members and hear what's on your mind.

We hear a wide variety of opinions on a wide variety of topics. Our members are kind enough to tell us when they think we are doing a good job and they are not afraid to let us know when we need to dial it up a notch! It is invaluable dialogue that energizes your CSA representatives and allows us to make the necessary adjustments when needed. I am happy to report that the vast majority of feedback which I received this winter was extremely positive. The quality of the participation and the questions which we received are strong indicators that our members have a high level of interest in what the CSA is doing on their behalf. We also managed to sign up more new members at this year's shows than in any of the 5 previous years. That's certainly something we can be proud of given the current economic climate.

I am also happy to report that I heard many positive comments about the job that Medipac International continues to do as our insurance provider. Not only do they do a great job in keeping us safe while we are enjoying our time in the sun, we simply could not bring you the Snowbird Extravaganzas and CSA Winter Information Meetings without them. One final thought on this past winter's successful round of shows – they enjoyed a great deal of local media coverage in their respective U.S. markets. Getting major American media affiliates from NBC and FOX to cover local meetings of Canadian snowbirds can be tricky, and it doesn't happen by accident. We have a media strategy to get our message out to as many people as we possibly can and it's always nice when it pays off!

Shortly after Alice and I returned home, I attended a reception for Halifax mayor Peter Kelly. The guest speaker was Toronto Mayor David Miller, who gave a presentation about the importance that federal infrastructure funding plays in the health and well-being of our cities and regional municipalities. Although stimulus spending is on nearly every government's agenda these days, Mayor Miller expressed concern about some of the red tape the federal government must deal with before funds can flow to our towns and cities. Mayor Miller is of the view that stimulus projects won't do much good speeding up our economic recovery if it takes two years to get the shovels in the ground. It's a fair point, and I had an opportunity to have a nice chat with Toronto's mayor about the CSA after his talk. Although we don't often think of CSA issues as being municipal in nature, Mayor Miller has agreed to meet with us this summer in Toronto to explore some issues that may be of mutual interest. Many of our members spend half of the year living in and around the greater Toronto area and I know that they have their concerns locally. I think that it's also a good idea to have the mayor of Canada's largest city in our corner and I look forward to the meeting.

About a year ago, the CSA approached officials at Dalhousie University in Halifax. We wanted to see if they would be interested in having some of their marketing students take a look at some of the challenges which the CSA must overcome if we are to continue to grow our membership base. I am happy to report that they accepted the challenge. Not only have they suggested some new and innovative ways to accomplish this goal, they took a hard look at some potential additional benefits that we could offer our existing CSA members. As a matter of fact, you can already get a sense of this by visiting our new and improved website at www.snowbirds.org. Although we have an excellent association with a strong voice, we can't afford to rest on our laurels and past successes. Sometimes it's helpful to get an outsider's perspective as we continue to grow and look for new and exciting ways to enhance the snowbird lifestyle for our members. It's an excellent piece of work by some very bright marketing students and I would like to express my thanks to everyone involved in the project. I am excited about some of the new initiatives which we are working on and I look forward to sharing more of those with you in the months ahead.

Alice and I wish all of you a safe and happy summer.

Pic 1: (L-R) City of Toronto Mayor David Miller, President Don Gardiner, Halifax Regional Municipality Mayor Peter Kelly.

Pic 2: Don Gardiner meets with Service New Brunswick President Jacques Dubé.