OPSEU members and staff, municipal council members and members of the community gathered on Friday September 16, 2016 for a celebration to mark the grand opening of the new OPSEU office in North Bay, Ontario.
The office has now officially made the move from its former location on Fraser Street, to its new location on 150 First Avenue West. The new office is on the second floor of the Royal Canadian Legion building.
“The new facility is a much more welcoming place for both members and staff,” said OPSEU Region 6 Vice-President Jeff Arbus. “It is a fully accessible membership centre with more windows and more parking. There is also enough space to allow large and smaller meetings to occur at the same time, and is equipped to support high-speed internet and state-of-the-art technologies like Smart TV.”
Both young and young-at-heart turned out to celebrate the office’s relocation and enjoy the sun-filled day.
“It was a great event,” added Arbus. “The Nipissing Area Council did a tremendous job organizing it, and the tireless work of the volunteers ensured everything ran smoothly.”
“There were giveaways, a barbecue and many activities for children – including a bouncy castle. But there was also a real sense of a community coming together to support each other. We were able to raise over a thousand dollars for our sister, Luna Ryder and the North Bay Scoliosis Warriors.”
Rob Boulet, the chair of OPSEU’s Nipissing Area Council, says getting the community involved was a priority for organizers.
“This is not just about our daily fight for better services for this community and all the other communities across the province,” said Boulet. “It’s about what's right and helping those in need.”
“All of our members are part of this community and we wanted to show them that we are here to support them and bring awareness to issues that are personal to them.”
The initiative to move was a year and a half in the making. Board members in Region 6 say it would not have been possible without the involvement of OPSEU’s First Vice-President and Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, who was on hand to address the crowd on Friday. Almeida and his staff were instrumental in acquiring the new facility and supportive through every step of the process.
“With this new office, OPSEU is telling its members it is paying attention to them and to their needs,” said Almeida.
North Bay is facing challenging times. The public sector is the largest employer in many of the surrounding communities and given the government’s penchant for privatization, the effects have been devastating.
The union hopes this new and dynamic environment will inspire more members to go to meetings and get involved.
“The new office is going to be a place where we can tackle the issues that are important to the membership in the region as well as continue to fight the government’s austerity agenda and its fixation on handing over to private corporations, what belongs to the public.”