Canadian Water and Wastewater Association eBulletin

Water Haller: Should we have a Window on Ottawa? ?

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I know I wrote about the Window on Ottawa last month, but I was challenged with a heavy question about this event this week that really called on us to sit back and think.

One of my jobs as the executive director is to run a financially sound organization. We are not a "business," but we do have to keep some business principles in place. So it’s reasonable that we look at the revenues versus expenses for our activities and the overall value to our association. CWWA is working with a new event management partner to help us plan and deliver our national events. As we near this year’s Window on Ottawa, and we worry about the potential for low registration, they had to ask, "Is the Window worthwhile?" and "Should we continue hosting this event?”   

I know the registration will jump up in the last week – you are all terrible at registering early! I am officially blaming you late registrants for my stress and high blood pressure. But even with late registrants and some faithful sponsors like C4 and Aquam (free extra plug), this event is not a moneymaker for CWWA. We’ll be lucky to break even. So do we continue?

My answer is YES. While I am very proud of our National Conference each November, this Window on Ottawa is something very special, something unique from all the other associations and organizations out there. Before being a fiscally responsible corporation, our purpose’for existing is to support "an integrated and positive legislative and policy environment.” We exist to represent our municipal water/wastewater sector to the federal government and to engage senior policy makers both reactively and proactively. THIS is what the Window on Ottawa is all about. 

The Window truly is a fascinating two days of in depth discussion on national policy and programs. We hear first-hand from the most senior policy makers about what they are up to and what they are thinking. Then they answer direct questions from the delegates and stay after their session to meet face-to-face. I really don’t think we can find a better or more effective way to engage policy makers and insert CWWA members into the national dialogue. Perhaps the problem is you are only interested in one panel or session topic at the Window, but the more senior you become, the more hats you wear. And you’d be amazed what you learn from seemingly unrelated discussion.

So while I wish more of you could appreciate the true value of the Window, I still see tremendous value in this effort for the CWWA. This event clarifies our role and strengthens our reputation on the federal stage. I wish everything we did made money, but for now I am content that we get value for our investment and it is simply a cost of doing business.