Council learns what Staff have learned from their Bateman engagement with the public - lot of interesting ideas

Pepper Parr

February 20th, 2024



These were questions that I had in mind when I began to write this article on the comments Denise Beard made when she addressed Council recently.

Engagement is a skill that requires innovation, patience and a skill set backed up by experience.

That said – why has the City had so much difficulty?

Was it the size of the project?

Was it a hangover from the loss of the Bateman High School?

Something made everyone react differently.

Did we know how to do Community Engagement for a project this size?

During the discussion with Council ward 2 Councillor said “we are not there yet” and wanted to defer any motions.  That was the last thing the public wanted.

Denise Beard,  Senior Manager of Community Development.

Denise Beard,  Senior Manager of Community Development sharing  the feedback she heard during her extensive community engagement on the Robert Bateman. Community Center Project told Council recently that “The community engagement was the result of hours of staff time working collaboratively.”

Beard was sharing “things we heard from the community on the visioning and on what we heard from the not for profit sector and the business sector about their visions.

“We approached groups through requests for expressions of interest. We wanted to identify if there’s any business areas or themes that committee would not like to see moving forward within the community center and have a discussion around those.

Staff are readying for the next steps around the engagement process; we wanted you to be aware of a concept that came out really loud and clear.

“A need for arts and culture space; that was a very strong theme both for creating, performing  – having exhibits. The local community is really coming forward and saying we don’t have a place where we feel that we can create and showcase just minor community driven arts and culture initiatives – that kept coming up over and over during the engagement sessions.

“We held three in person sessions, where we ran through an “innovation in a box” exercises with the community. We also ran one virtual session. We had staff at booths at both at Food for Feedback and at the Appleby Line Street Festival to get more input from the community in a brainstorming opportunity for people during the festivals.

Denise Beard giving it everything she has – was showing a media presentation some of the programs offered by the parks people.

“We were generated 70 unique ideas; lots of interest from the community on the space and what they’d like to see in there. We heard expressions of interest from the arts and culture from specific not for profits wanting to have exclusive space for their creative and performing spaces.

“We had people come forward offering day cares both for preschoolers, elders and respite care with some sort of social programming to help offset daycare needs.

“Food was a major component that was seen as key with the community space;, that there’s a place that brings people together both socially and from a sharing of cultures, where people really can sit down converse and really link with each other over food.

“Mention was made of a Creative Kitchen that could be a social enterprise where people could create foods for sale and do some training programs where people could learn the hospitality trades and then offer that service within the Community Center.

“There’s lots of interest and comments about the gyms and the especially around pickle ball.  Also lots of engagement around the former shops, whether that’s a Repair Cafe, woodworking classes and skills training.

“We heard lots of feedback around a link between science and technology and creative spaces and interest in some great opportunity for social programming and services.

“In our discussions something we’re calling social anchor began to become clear.  People really felt like they wanted this common social space. It was a very interesting conversation with community when we were in the engagement sessions because initially we would start in conversation. Inevitably somebody said they wanted additional senior space at Bateman and then somebody else saying I would like to use Bateman where conversations not led by staff, but within the groups themselves.

People really felt like they wanted this common social space.

Discussion came to this notion “we want to community centered not segregated by age or demographic, but a place where we can all come together and learn from each other and share with each other. They really wanted a place that was welcoming, open and free for them to integrate and just ad hoc come together and enjoy each other’s company.

At this point Beard closed her remarks with there is more engagement to be done but at this point we need to hear from you.   Before she did that she spoke for a few minutes about a pilot project Staff wanted to run at Tansley Woods where there is space that isn’t used all that month.  The pilot project is part two of this three part series

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1 comment to Council learns what Staff have learned from their Bateman engagement with the public – lot of interesting ideas

  • Lynn Crosby

    Please. “Engaging” is long after the wheels are in motion and they’ve decided to spend $100 million on a shared building isn’t engagement. COB doesn’t do engagement. They just say the word repeatedly and hope that satisfies people. Ignored were the are residents who just asked you not to pave over the track and field for a parking lot.

    It’s shameful that the mayor and council and city have said nothing on the fact that workers were critically injured removing asbestos from the site. Remember the lengths they went to chastise Councillor Stolte for daring to say “asbestos” and saying $50M might be spent. Here we are at double and counting.

    Bateman Boondoggle. Bigger one than the pier.

    But back to their fairy tales about engagement. This piece from the Bay Observer says it all.