In May/June 2011, JCRA conducted a survey of residents to find out their views about Community Centres. Its objective was to determine residents’ opinions and beliefs about a community centre for SE Oakville – what should be a part of it, where it may be located, and issues that accompany this development. We appreciate everyone who responded and also those who made their views known in telephone calls, emails and conversations. The Community Centre issue is important and as you will read below, the survey confirmed there is overwhelming support for a community centre below the QEW.

It is rare in Southeast Oakville to have a significant number of lands (Chisholm / Maple Grove JK-5, Brantwood, Linbrook, Centennial Square, the Hospital lands and old Oakville Trafalgar High School land) available to the Town for development of parks and community facilities. This adds complexity and opportunity to our pursuit of a community centre. We believe the community should have a strong informed voice as the Town prepares to make decisions that will have a long-term effect on our area. The survey was our first step in engaging residents in the process and we wanted to share with you the results of the survey, and what the next steps after this may mean for our community.

As a reminder, our survey was conducted in June 2011, open only to residents of Ward 3, primarily focussed within JCRA boundaries. Almost 10% of JCRA’S residents participated.

Key highlights from the survey:

  • There is overwhelming support for a town community centre below the QEW in Ward 3.
  • The most desired types of facilities/services are: fitness centre; gym, pool; senior programs; youth programs.
  • There is a slight overall preference for a smaller neighbourhood community centre.

Below are some results from the survey:

1.  There were 220 responses.

2.  93% of respondents agreed there should be a Town Community Centre below the QEW in Ward 3 and 88% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they would use a Town Community Centre located in Ward 3.

3. 57% would prefer a smaller neighbourhood community centre on the Chisholm school land, vs. 43% who would prefer a large community centre on the Hospital Lands.

4.    Key community centre facilities and services that people believed important:

A large  multi-generational community centre on the Hospital Lands should include (by total votes):

•Fitness facilities
•Seniors programs
•Youth programs
•Gym
•Pool

Ranking by first and second choice of the services /facilities wanted for  a smaller community centre on the Chisholm site:

•Small branch library
•Fitness facilities
•Pool
•Gym
•Meeting Rooms

5.    95% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the playground and woodlot on the Chisholm site should be preserved with any redevelopment plan.

6.    72% of respondents strongly disagreed or disagreed that the Chisholm site should be redeveloped into homes.

7.    94% of respondents said that “yes” they would support some of the Hospital Lands being used to generate revenue to help fund a multi-generational community centre.

We hope that you found the survey information helpful and provided a view on Joshua Creek residents’ opinions on community facilities.

Other issues that are important which should be considered

As you can imagine, the decision about land redevelopment can be complex, is a long-term decision, with strong views held by many stakeholders. While the survey provides some direction on the views of our residents, we also think that residents need to consider some of the following issues as they decide what they believe is best for our community.

Land redevelopment in Oakville

  • With no community centre in our neighbourhood currently, many residents are required to drive to other Town facilities or use private facilities. Ward 3 is arguably underserved in terms of Parks & Recreation facilities/community centres.
  • Land redevelopment activities around school lands, Hospital Lands, Centennial Square redevelopment, and old Oakville Trafalgar high school, offer an opportunity to effectively address community facilities.
  • Oakville Parks & Recreation amended Master Plan will be published in September 2011. Planning Alliance consultants on the Hospital Lands project will publish redevelopment alternatives late this fall. Both are critical in understanding the opportunities available and the needs of the community.
  • All Ward 3 Resident Associations are supportive of some form of community centre below the QEW. Developing a plan of action together may make a significant difference in obtaining a Community Centre below the QEW. However there is no consensus at this time on the best location for a community centre.
  • Centennial Square revitalization (Performing arts centre, downtown library and potential elimination of the downtown pool) is under consideration and is currently considered Ward 3’s “community campus’ though not truly a community centre. Changes to services there will have an impact on the potential for a community centre. Additionally Centennial Square redevelopment will be a financial challenge.

Timing of redevelopment and building

  • Timing of development is a key factor – trade-offs of opportunities will need to be considered. The Chisholm site realistically might take until 2013 to be redeveloped (property must be purchased, re-zoned, financed etc.). The Hospital does not vacate until 2015 (so redevelopment could not likely occur until 2016 or later) unless the Town and Hospital agree to allow development at old OT before the Hospital is vacated. There is not yet an agreed plan for other redevelopment mentioned above (including other school sites). It might be difficult to align redevelopment plans, actual timing for building, financial arrangements.
  • The Chisholm school site should not go vacant for too long – problems such as vandalism might become an issue.

Costs

  • Costs of facilities will be a key consideration. Based on Town financials for Iroquois Ridge and Glen Abbey community facilities, the estimated capital and operating costs would be for a fitness facility / pool = ~$9 million capital costs and ~$750,000 operating/annually and for a library = ~$3 million capital costs and ~$1 million operating/annually.
  • Town Council still must pass a motion to purchase any school lands. At that time the market value of the land is established and the Town would determine how they will finance the purchase. For Chisholm/Maple Grove JK-5 the Halton District School Board estimates $6-8 million.

Site Restrictions

  • Are the types of services our community wants able to be accommodated/ fit based on the size of the Chisholm site including the parking needed?
  • Traffic and parking considerations on Chisholm site would vary depending on facility type (e.g. library hours vs. fitness centre hours vs. meeting rooms)
  • Heritage preservation for old Oakville Trafalgar high school frontage will be required.

What are the next steps?

There will continue to be discussions about the Chisholm school site and the other lands being redeveloped. JCRA will inform you of any community meetings and post updates for the community.

JCRA will continue to listen and collect feedback from residents. We are actively speaking to our Town councillors, the Mayor, planning and consulting groups that have been hired by the Town, and other Residents Associations – all with the objective of both bringing the voice of our residents forward and informing you about the challenges and options.

The Town’s Parks & Recreation amended Master Plan will be published in September 2011 and then community consultation on it will be invited. Also, late in 2011, the Planning Alliance will publish a report on the Hospital lands redevelopment with subsequent community consultation. JCRA believes that these two plans need to be reviewed before any informed decisions on redevelopment of Chisholm can be made.

We are committed to keeping you informed.

 

We welcome your comments on the survey and the issues/challenges noted above.

Email us at:  president@joshuacreek.org or at memberjoshuacreek@gmail.com