Policy Example: Decision Making at Creekside




The organizational structure that has been designed assumes that we are using the following decision-making process. We include them here for review:



1) Teams use the Decision-Making Criteria Questions: 

1. Does this proposed action conform to existing agreements and team mandates?
{ Does this proposed action conform to existing agreements for the operation of      Creekside Commons: including team mandates for care and maintenance, living    in community guidelines, and by-laws (Strata Act of BC, City of Courtenay and             Creekside Commons Strata)?}

2. Is this within approved budgets?

3. Is this consistent with current use of common space?

4. Are there enough committed volunteers to complete the task?

5. Do we believe we have enough information, including consideration of future    impacts?

6. Has the community been informed about the intent to discuss this possible        action {through agendas and minutes of council, groups or team}? (E-mailing             team meeting agendas, and posting them on the WIKI informs the Community.)


(Note: “NO” to any of questions 4,5, 6 need not result in a council meeting referral. It just means the team needs to do more work to get a “Yes” before proceeding)


If an issue does pass through all the questions and a decision is reached, past experience has taught us that it is important that people are given enough time between making a decision, and enacting it.  Some teams have already built in a week long “inform & wait time” to allow the decision to be shared and remaining concerns to be aired, before action ensues. Through this process, we find out if an issue is of greater concern & thus in need of more community attention than may have beenpredicted. As a community we should discuss if we wish this to become a team-wide standard.







2) If a team determines that an item should go to Community Council, then this team requests that the Facilitation Team help them to structure a Community Council meeting to air the issue fully.


            Airing an issue fully at a Council meeting would include:

            - developing and recording a shared understanding of the issue

            - brainstorming possible actions/solutions

            - recording community concerns about actions/solutions brainstormed

            - seeking a team (standing or ad hoc) to hold open meetings (with recorded                         minutes) to try to craft proposed solution(s) that address the issue & Community                      concerns raised

            - setting a reasonable time frame for the issue to return to Community

              Council for a test for consensus


3) Once the issue has been worked on, through an open and transparent process, A proposal or idea is brought to a Community Council meeting and it is tested for consensus as per our bylaws, section 16, with specific details as set forth by Council (Living in Community Guidelines)



Decision making guidelines.


A.  Creekside Commons will use a modified consensus process for decision making because we believe:

• Consensus gathers experiences from the whole group.  Better decisions are made when we draw on the wisdom and creativity of the group, rather than on one or two individuals.  

• Consensus agreements need less enforcement. Once an agreement is made, and everyone gives their consent to it, the agreement is backed by the relationships.

• Consensus moves toward doing what is best for the common interest.

• Consensus builds relationships between people and provides an opportunity to learn and

grow.  Communication of ideas and feelings and empathetic listening builds trust and

bonds between members.  

• By encouraging shared leadership and participation, consensus empowers all the members to make the best decision.  

• By working together to clarify ideas and proposals, the members build trust and

communication skills that continue to grow and expand as the group lives and works



B.  Definitions

• Participant:  All owners and occupants of Creekside Commons strata lots may participate in the modified consensus process used at community meetings.

• Eligible Voting Owner is an owner of a strata lot in Creekside Commons.

• Decision is reached when the participants present at a meeting with quorum agree that the written proposal, with modifications as required, is either acceptable to them or they step aside and agree not to impede implementation.


• Blocking -A decision can be blocked when three or more Eligible Voting Owners cannot accept the proposal as written or modified.  If owners block a decision, it becomes their responsibility to work with the other owners and occupants to come up with a proposal that will be acceptable for a decision.


C.  Voting Alternative Process

The Voting Alternative Process is used under the following circumstances:

• Any decision if a decision has not been reached at three consecutive meetings,

• For an emergency decision when there is not unanimous agreement.

• A proposal is approved by vote if seventy-five percent (75%) of the Eligible Voting Owners who have responded to e-mail communication about the decision in the case of an emergency decision approve the proposal.


D.  Tools for Consensus – Using Coloured Cards

The following system of coloured cards is used by many of the Canadian cohousing communities and is a tool that helps to facilitate the consensus process.  Cards are used for Discussion and Decision Making.



• The purpose of the cards it to provide a tool for containing the discussion, to help ensure that all members have an opportunity to speak if they want to, and give members equal opportunity to help manage the discussion.  Participants hold up a card before speaking. 

The facilitator recognizes them in the following order (1) Red (2) Yellow (3) Green.

• Red means, “Stop the Process” (time out) and indicates a breach in agreed upon procedures.  Examples include discussing topics not on the agenda or going overtime.  It can also be used when a participant feels uncomfortable with the way that the process is proceeding or if they believe that a break would be appropriate. The red card may be raised at any time during discussion.

• Yellow indicates that a participant can offer clarification (not an opinion!) on the issue

being discussed that will increase the effectiveness of the discussion.  Since the yellow card allows the participant to “jump Queue”, this card should be used judiciously and only to support more effective and timely discussions.

• Green indicates a participant’s desire to make a comment, offer an opinion, or ask a

question.  When there is more than one card of the same colour raised, the card watcher

ensures that the individuals are heard in the order that the cards have been raised.


Decision Making:


• Green indicates agreement with the proposal under discussion.

• Yellow indicates that the participant has reservations but is unwilling to block group consensus because of those reservations.

• Red indicates the participant’s opposition to the proposal at hand and their willingness to block group consensus because of that opposition – see B above under Blocking.