Watching city staff and Council work through what will take place at RBCC when it opens in 2025

By Pepper Parr

February 28th, 2024



Earlier in the month Denise Bears, Senior Manager Community Planning with Recreation Community and Culture (RCC) reported to Council on what she had done to date on engagement on the former high school, the Live and Play Plan, and the Direct Delivery Program review.

Our focus in this report to readers is on the engagement that has taken place on the Robert Bateman Community Centre.  Beard said that “community sentiment and comments have been consistent regardless of what the community was being engaged on..

That same could not be said about how her dialogue with Council members went.  Beard reported that specific to the former high school staff held four community visioning sessions and attended Food for Feedback and the Appleby Line Street Festival to gather the community’s visions for the former high school. Staff also launched the Request for Expressions of Interest to assess what business or not-for-profit interest there might be for exclusive uses within the building.

There were 71 expressions of interest. More than 50 people attending in person sessions (which is really not an impressive number)  and 67 ideas added to the Get Involved page.

Denise Beard, Senior Manager Community Development

There were four public events:

  • August 22 at Appleby Arena,
  • August 23 at LaSalle Pavilion; and
  • October 18 at Tansley Woods Community Centre
  • October 19, 2023 virtual

Those who did attend the public sessions had a lot to say. They offered the following:

    1. Space for STEM programming
    2. Access to Tool Shop/Library
    3. Black Box Theatre (similar to Queen Elizabeth Park CC in Oakville)
    4. Theatre Rehearsal Space
    5. Indoor Bike Park
    6. Sports and Recreational Programming for Children and Youth
      1. Drop-in and Program
    7. Living Wall Atrium
    8. Repair Café
      1. Household items to be repaired by local makers/artisans.
    9. Pickleball Programming/Courts
    10. Apartments for the Homeless
    11. Dedicated Art Space/Gallery
    12. Open Gym Time for Youth
    13. Cooking Classes/Kitchen Space
    14. Flex Space for Community Use
    15. Newcomers Programming
    16. Craft Programming Space
    17. Art Programs/Classes
      1. Drop-in Studio for Youth/Children
    18. Soundproof Room
    19. Indoor Cricket
    1. Family Programs
    2. Inclusion Programming
    3. Art Collective
    4. Daycare Space
    5. 50+ Resources and Training Centre
    6. Community Job Café
    7. Dancing Lessons
    8. A Re-Use Emporium
    9. Kids Game Night
    10. Clay, Fibre, Drawing, Painting and Mural Art Space
    11. Community Garden Plots
    12. Extended Learning Centre
    13. Dog Training
    14. Squash Courts
    15. Office Space for Organizations
    16. Coffee Shop or Restaurant
    17. Alzheimer’s Support Spaces

Some of the ideas reflected program that were already being given at other city facilities; what was evident was that people had ideas – good ideas.

A rendering of the Robert Bateman Community Centre as seen from New Street

The challenge was how to make them work in the community centre that will open phase 1 in September of 2025 when Brock University students will show up for classes on the second floor of the building.

In a feature article we published earlier this week you get to read how members of city council dug in and talked about what they wanted and didn’t want.

It is a three part feature, the third on is lengthy – but if you want to get a really good feel for how council members think on the fly; how they begin to reveal what they want this city of yours to be as we work our way to the point where we have 29,000 new homes and, as Councillor Sharman said, 121,000 new people from around the world – do click on the links and read on.

Recreation, Community and Culture (RCC)  staff are not academics, they are not social scientists; they are bureaucrats (a word that is sometimes used as a slur – not in this instance).  They are working to make the community they live and work in better knowing that the rate of change is so rapid that it is hard to keep up.

Reacting on the fly and pressing council members to be clear on what they want the RBCC to do for the residents of the city.

The RCC department, led by Executive Director Emily Cote, who directed Denise Beard, as she worked her way through meetings where the sentiment was not always clear.

There was some good work done – I urge to take the time to read all three parts – the pilot program is not the kind of thing one sees at the municipal level very often.  No idea how it will work out.

We get told on occasion that we put too much attention on insisting members of council and city staff be both transparent and accountable.  They were certainly transparent when they talked their way to a point where they realized the work was not yet done.  This is one of those Receive and File reports you can expect to see a lot more of.

Link to the article

Part 1 Early engagement

Part 2 – The pilot project plans.

Part 3: Figuring out what they wanted and didn’t want.


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