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09.10.2008 Social News

Ghanaian Canadia Assoc. Loses Community Centre

The Ghanaian Canadian Association of Ontario's (GCAO) much-publicized and much- heralded Ghanaian Community Center is now a thing of the past: the Organization has been kicked out of the rented Banquet Hall they have been operating as a Community Center at #8 Ashwarren Rd. Toronto.
The owner of the premises has bolted the doors and posted a notice to the effect that the tenants (GCAO) have been “evicted for non-payment of rent”. The monthly rent for the Center was around four thousand two hundred dollars ($4200). Elsewhere in this issue we carry a Press Release issued by the President of GCAO assigning reasons for their eviction and appealing to the community for help to “save the Ghanaian Community Center”. Readers and community members can draw their own conclusions.
The President of the GCAO, Mr. Francis Arhinful told the The Ghanaian News an interview that they are still working to keep the Center open. He said that they will be having a meeting with the landlord and once they pay two months of the rent arrears, the Center will be re-opened. Mr. Arhinful lamented the fact that the community did not support the Center with rentals. He also promised that they will be having a meeting with the community associations that invested in the project to try to convince them to invest more money in the venture.
The Ghanaian News has talked to a number of community members, present and past Board members and some of the “partner associations” that financed the community center and the picture they paint is very different from the one being put up for “community viewing and consumption” by the GCAO. Many of the partner associations are angry of being duped of their investment; others talk of being sidelined in the decision-making process, while others point to a system of clear mismanagement. They point to the fact that the GCAO signed the Lease for the premises in September 2007,. Used the money that the “partner associations” contributed to pay rent until March 2008 when they started to operate the business. This, according to some of the associations, was lack of business sense. Even then, one member association revealed that the GCAO was trying as recently as September to convince them to put up more money and when they refused, they have been served with letters advising them to count their cost and abandon the investment project.
Another “partner association” complained that the business venture was doomed to fail because the GCAO lacked leadership. It was not clear, the association complained, who was in charge of the Organization and the business. A Member of the GCAO Advisory Committee, a most respected member of the community, regrets that the Executive Committee was out of touch with its Advisory Committee. He said the Executive Committee took very important decisions without much input and consultation with its Advisory Committee.
The Ghanaian News has always maintained that this whole Community Center business was ill-conceived and mismanaged. A critical examination of the official explanation of the GCAO shows that they have a lot of questions to answer: First, the Hall was not purchased: it was rented for a whooping four thousand, two hundred dollars a month!! Secondly, the executive Committee of the GCAO decided in their accounting and business wisdom and expertise to pump between $50,000 and $70,000 into renovations of the premises that they did not own. How were they hoping to recoup this investment on rented premises before starting to make a profit? Thirdly, they never came out clean with the community with the fact that the capital used in financing the business venture came from various Associations within the community. The official and unofficial messages they sent to the community was that the GCAO had finally “bought” a Community Center.
We are of the strong view that the GCAO owes the Ghanaian community a lot of answers. They need to make public the whole transactions on this Center that was done in the name of the community that has created the present mess into which they have thrown the community.