Making the best of bad times to prepare for better times ahead 

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It’s coming soon: the day we can all be together again – with our extended families, our friends and the members of our OPSEU/SEFPO family too. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m sure you feel the same way.

The pandemic has made it a brutal year, but there is hope on the horizon. The vaccine rollout is underway and I hope by this time next year, we can start meeting face-to-face again.

That’s why we were so proud to announce OPSEU/SEFPO’s purchase of the historic Frost Centre in Haliburton. It’s all about making the best of bad times to prepare for better times ahead.

And better times are coming.

Our members are the heart and soul of the union. As activists, they invest their time and energy into building up our movement, often away from home and at the expense of precious time with loved ones. It’s a tall order, and COVID-19 hasn’t stalled their work. In fact, it has given rise to growing demand.

It’s why building our union’s capacity is a top priority. The Frost Centre isn’t just a beautiful property, it’s functional and now, it belongs to our OPSEU/SEFPO family. It will be a place to learn, train and grow as activists and as a union. It’s a place where our families can come be part of our union work, and where our children might experience that spark of passion for union activism.

We know what this means to our members. We’ve heard how inspired they are by Unifor’s Family Education Centre in Port Elgin when they point to it as a glowing example of what a union can do for its members.

OPSEU/SEFPO members give so much and now the Frost Centre is a place to call their own – a place to be proud of. And just like our many other properties across Ontario, this is an asset. No other investment can build equity quite like property, and at such a bargain price, this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.  It will serve our members for many generations to come.

With 41 acres of land, 2800 ft. of shoreline on St. Nora Lake and 21 buildings – including dorm-style rooms and cottages – we’ve hit the jackpot. Those familiar with the area and the real estate market will know that $3.2 million for a property like this is an absolute steal, since land in these parts goes high.

We knew the property would get a lot of attention, but we came in with a fair offer. With more than 30 offers, it’s our understanding that ours wasn’t even the highest. But our mission to preserve the property’s integrity and to build on its legacy by honouring its roots as an education centre is likely what placed us ahead of the others. Our goals are in line with the local community and environment, because we want this property to be there for the broader community, just like our members are.

Getting the facilities up and running will take some work, but our members are worth it. Better times are coming, and we’ve got to be prepared. As leaders, it’s our job to get us there.

We’ll start with five buildings, getting meeting space and accommodations going first. That way, when we can get together again, we’ll have a functional and beautiful place to gather. Even though the pandemic has forced us apart this past year, we’ve saved a lot of money by staying distanced.

What better way to capitalize on those savings than by reinvesting in our union and its members?

During this time, we’ve managed to pay off the mortgage on several other OPSEU/SEFPO-owned properties – in some cases many years ahead of schedule. We’ve continued to invest in new facilities and resources – like the Frost Centre – for our growing union and its members because we understand that the benefits are two-fold: we’re building up our assets and unlocking future savings on things like accommodations and venues when we can meet face-to-face again.

As your union leadership, it’s our duty and responsibility to make investments today to advance the union and all members for years to come.

Better times are coming and we’re ready.

In solidarity,

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer
Twitter: @OPSEUEddy
Facebook: facebook.com/OPSEUEddy

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