In August of 2000, there was not yet a plan for Neighbourhoods Alive! (NA!) to partner with Neighbourhood Renewal Corporations (NRC). It had been determined that NA! would employ a Community Led Development (CLD) model. Although the CLD model was central to the NA! approach, it had not been well-defined or determined as to how it would be applied.
The initial thought was to consider identifying “umbrella organizations” in each NA! community to assist with local renewal efforts in a volunteer advisory capacity. There had been approaches to some local organizations such as community centres, but most of these organizations had their hands full with their own specific mandates and were reluctant to get involved in a broader voluntary role.
At that time, there were two pre-existing NRCs: West Broadway Development Corporation (WBDC) and the North End Community Renewal Corporation (NECRC), as well as two emerging NRCs: Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation (BNRC) and Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA). These organizations were willing to play a role in partnering with NA!, but not without some agreement that included compensation for services. There was initially some reluctance to have the limited NA! resources spent on what could be considered an additional administrative role, but the NRCs were able to effectively lobby and there was support within government.
By December of 2000, the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs (the lead department for NA!) was instructed to develop a program to contract with NRCs and possibly other organizations in each NA! community. The Neighbourhood Development Organizations (NDO) program with the Province of Saskatchewan was identified as an existing model. At that time, there were four NDOs, including the Quint Development Corporation (serving five neighbourhoods) in Saskatoon, each receiving annual funding of $150,000. The NDO program promoted community economic development in NDO communities.
In early 2001, the Neighbourhood Development Assistance (NDA) program was developed, based on the Saskatchewan NDO program. As opposed to the NDO program, however, NDA included some provision for differing funding levels based on $75,000 per year for single community/ neighbourhood NRCs such as BNRC and SNA, and $200,000 for the multi-neighbourhood NECRC (serving three NA! neighbourhoods in 2001). In April 2001, the first five-year NDA agreements were signed with the original four NRCs. Initially, there was a volunteer-based committee in Thompson, the Thompson NRC was established and added to the NDA agreements in September 2001.
In exchange for the five-year NDA agreements, NRCs were asked to develop five-year Neighbourhood Renewal Plans (NRP). While Intergovernmental Affairs employed professional City Planners, the NRCs did not. A City Planning student, employed with NA!, helped develop the first guidelines for NRPs. While there was initially some reluctance on the part of NRCs, the first rudimentary NRPs were developed to help guide local renewal efforts. In the process of developing the first plans, NRCs consulted their respective communities.
NDA was initially simply meant to cover basic NRC core operating costs. In 2001, it was felt that $75,000 per year would be sufficient to cover the NRC manager’s salary and office space. NECRC could consider employing other staff members, in addition to a manager. NRCs were encouraged to explore other funding opportunities including applying to Revenue Canada to become registered charities. NECRC, WBDC, and SNA did eventually become registered charities. Brandon NRC was able to negotiate an agreement with the City of Brandon that included rent-free office space and assistance with administrative costs.
NRCs were growing both in terms of their role in their respective communities and resources needed to be effective in that role. All of the NRCs identified housing renewal as critical to their role, including some employing Housing Coordinators. Where there might be a cost-sharing arrangement with local municipalities or other funders the NA! Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) was also used to facilitate agreements to fund these projects on a time-limited basis.
In 2003, NA! contracted Tamarack to facilitate a workshop on Organizational Sustainability Planning. It assisted both NA! and the NRCs to get a better sense of how community development corporations (CDC) across Canada have managed to sustain themselves. In many cases, CDCs receive part of their funding from one or more levels of government. Other sources of income include charitable foundation grants, donations including in-kind, and own source revenue including service fees.
Currently, three Winnipeg NRCs are registered charities and receive part of their funding from charitable foundations and/or through donations. Other NRCs are also in the process of applying to Revenue Canada to become a registered charity, but the process appears to have become more difficult. Brandon NRC, not a registered charity, has managed to become sustainable with funding and other support from all three levels of government.
Several NRCs own property that may be leased to other community-based organizations and/ or public agencies. Some NRCs have launched social enterprises that generate revenue, although not always co