OPSRRA is the acronym for Otter Point and Shirley Residents and Ratepayers Association. In recent years this has been updated to reflect that OPSRRA now represents Jordan River as well. The official name is: OPSRRA, Representing the Residents and Ratepayers of Otter Point, Shirley and Jordan River. It’s a bit of a mouthful and a tongue-twister.
OPSRRA is a ratepayers association formed in 1992 by a group of residents who felt that Otter Point and Shirley needed to have a voice and the means for people to get together and express their views about issues and events in their communities. This was before internet, email and cell phones were commonplace. The first meetings were held in one of the founder’s cabins at Tugwell Creek in the depths of the dark forest in Otter Point. There may or may not have been electricity! Truly a grassroots organization.
OPSRRA evolved quickly. In subsequent years meetings were held in public places to accommodate the growing membership, which could be counted on to turn out in great numbers for meetings – at times there was standing room only. The intent of OPSRRA was to: maintain the rural character of the area, foster protection of the environment, support the values important to the residents, provide a means to lobby government officials and advocate for responsible land use decision.
In the past 25 years the membership has grown to a total of 444 members and associate members in 2017. Much has been accomplished with the participation of volunteers, fund-raising efforts, donations and grant monies received. To name a few:
- Bulletin boards were built and erected at the mailbox sites in Otter Point,
- Welcome to Otter Point and Shirley signs were established,
- A Visioning Project was completed in 2008
- Governance studies were conducted,
- OPSRRA provided a presentation to its communities regarding a Marine Trails Development proposal,
- Roadside clean-up events have been held and “Anti-Dumping” Signage have been erected,
- A Water Resources Assessment Project was conducted with the Royal Roads BSc Environmental Sciences Program, and
- “No-Shooting” boundary changes in Otter Point and Jordan River were successfully completed.
OPSRRA has come a long way since those early days of meeting in a cabin in the woods. Nearly everyone has internet potential, although sadly cell coverage is still spotty to non-existent in our communities. OPSRRA has a website, blog, an electronic newsletter, a Facebook page and much of the organization’s communication is done by email. OPSRRA’s activities have also changed; with reports and minutes for CRD Committees and Commissions now available online, it is not necessary for Directors to attend quite so many meetings in order to relay information to the membership. Board meetings are now quarterly, as many preliminary discussions can take place by group email. The newsletter blog format informs members of current events and updates instantly and periodic electronic surveys gauge public opinion.
All thought some things remain unchanged. OPSRRA still enjoys well-attended meetings with engaging members twice a year to work on issues that matter to our community.
OPSRRA’s board is looking at continuing to evolve to keep the organization relevant, current and attractive to new members and directors as time goes on. Politicians pay attention to ratepayers associations, as they represent a broad base of their constituents. Our current Regional Director Mike Hicks, MP Randall Garrison and MLA John Horgan are both very responsive and supportive of OPSRRA.