Ross Bay Villa Society – Annual Report of Directors to the Membership
by Society President Simone Vogel-Horridge
Presented at the Annual General Meeting held on March 29th, 2014
in the Dining Room at Ross Bay Villa
Since our incorporation as a society in January of last year many things have happened. Looking back I can say that we probably had the best and the worst year since work started on the Villa in early 2000. The past year started off full of enthusiasm for the long anticipated Grand Opening in August. Much work still needed to be finished such as a fresh coat of paint on the outside, the oilcloths for the Kitchen and Long Hallway and the wallpaper for the Front Hall.
All volunteers worked very hard on getting everything ready in time. One team enjoyed the spring working at another 1860’s home in Fairfield creating the wood grained wallpaper going there as often as three times a week. Another team transformed the Villa temporarily and after much preparation into the “HMS Ross Bay” with a grey undercoat. After months of getting the garden ready, the house repainted, the front door grained, the oilcloths made and laid and the wallpaper panelling installed in the Front Hall we were ready for the big day. Advertisement of the event had been stepped up with a beautifully designed poster, regular posts on the facebook page, handouts from a Francis Roscoe look-alike at the Moss Street paint-in and several front page newspaper stories about the upcoming event.
The combined effort led to an extremely successful event that had its highlight in the official opening and ribbon cutting by the Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Judith Guichon on August 4, 2013. Several City Council members and a representative from TLC were in attendance. Descendant of Francis Roscoe, Robin Barrow, also honoured us with a visit from Seattle.
It became the most visited and the most profitable lawn party that had ever been held on the site.
Right after the Grand Opening the volunteer team switched gears from the restoration to the maintenance and the running of the site. Many exciting ideas for programming, fundraising and the use of Ross Bay Villa were floating around and were brought up in a constructive “Visioning” session. Everyone was excited in getting started and making the site available to larger audiences such as school classes and tourists when the bad news hit: The Land Conservancy was under Creditors’ Protection and in order to find money for its multimillion dollar debt was going to sell off its built heritage properties.
Since the initial shock wore off the board has worked very hard on figuring out options for preserving Ross Bay Villa, preserving the 14 years of volunteer labour which resulted in now more than 73.000 volunteered hours and preserving the hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money that went into Ross Bay Villa as well as the donations by numerous organisations, businesses and private individuals.
Thanks to the legal guidance of the retired lawyer on the board, the board was able to understand the details and implications of TLC’s court case and with her help two affidavits explaining the importance of Ross Bay Villa and the contribution of the community were filed.
Since the New Year the board’s work has focused on several tasks (often meeting several times a week):
– the preparation of an application for charitable status
– the creation of a budget and a sound business plan
– raising the public profile with the new website www.RossBayVilla.org.
We are hoping that all these things will help us on the path of preserving Ross Bay Villa as it was meant to be and for which we have worked so hard.
I hope that each and every member will support us in trying to accomplish just that.
Chair, Ross Bay Villa Society