Town hall, Nov. 25, 2013
Junction Commons Project
Nov. 25 saw yet another instance of community engagement and interest in the Junction Commons Project (JCP) as an enthusiastic crowd of close to 75 people came out to a town hall, held at 3030 Dundas West.
The room was a mix of both people who are already actively following the JCP and those who found out about it more recently. Some had been to previous public meetings while others had participated in one of the neighbourhood charettes – creative brainstorming sessions – that took place in the Junction in November, to continue to gather ideas from local residents about what they want to see in the potential community hub on Mavety street, formerly a police station.
Several current organizing members of the project were on hand to answer questions (Lynn Bishop and Andrew Keenan), as well as two members of the consulting team putting together the JCP feasibility study (Peter Thoma of urbanMetrics, and Graeme Stewart from ERA Architects).
The room full of participants each received a small clicker they used to answer multiple-choice questions previously posted in the JCP online survey. Thoma walked the crowd through the survey, projected on a large screen on stage. Answers from the crowd for each question were displayed alongside results from the online survey. A series of questions aimed at unearthing what services are high on the wish list of those who live in the community, what kinds of things they would like to see in the Commons if it goes ahead and also how they see it being funded. As with the charettes, many people seem to be looking for things like a community kitchen, green-friendly and socially responsible services, art programs and services that encourage community building and active participation.
Those who turned out on Nov. 25 were treated to a glimpse inside the old police station on Mavety as Stewart projected photos of a walk through of the site he and colleagues did earlier in the fall. The state of the heating and water infrastructure is still of some concern. But Stewart talked also about how open and full of light some areas are and how the set up of the different floors could allow for both services and offices. Among other things, the feasibility study is looking at refurbishing the current building versus demolition and a completely new construction.
Discussion and debate was encouraged during the town hall, with many questions from attendees focusing on concerns about how to make the hub financially sustainable, and how to keep any fees affordable to as many members of the community as possible. The project is in the midst of the feasibility study to figure out what the options and costs for renovations to the site would be, so it is still too early to know what the first roster of social services or commercial tenants could look like. Many people expressed a keen desire to have the city offer direct financial support for the project in some way – with the feasibility study still ongoing, what costs would be and what support government support could materialize remains to be seen.
written by linda o. nagy