Tuesday June 20th at General Committee, there was considerable discussion amongst members in regards to options for temporary accommodations for the current tenants of 52 and 56 Victoria St. As residents are no doubt aware, earlier this year Council decided, 8-1(Councillor Gaertner opposed) to demolish the two properties. As a consequence, current tenants of the two properties will be displaced as of October 1st when demolition is expected to commence. The Bridge Club is one of the current occupants that will be displaced and was before Council to ask that Council find space for them to hold their games. Staff have been working hard, looking for space to accommodate all groups that will be temporarily displaced. Unfortunately, it seems that any Town space that is currently available does not meet the needs of some of the groups and in particular the Bridge Club, as they are asking for 2500 square feet of space to accommodate holding their games 7 days a week.
As I said at the meeting, what has become evident throughout this process of the re-development of Library Sq and the revitalization of the downtown core is that the Town is in short supply of community space. This is one of the key purposes of the redevelopment of Library Square – of which the demolition of 52 and 56 Victoria street is a part. Council as whole, in reflecting expressed community needs identified over the past 2 decades, agrees that the downtown core needs new community space as well as a civic square. The current situation, where groups occupy buildings that staff have recommended demolition of for years, is a result of years of deferred decision making. The buildings cost annually $97,448.00 in operating expenses, and while the Town receives $50,304.00 in total revenue from both buildings to offset those costs, there is still an annual deficit of $47,144.00. In addition, Staff did present a repurposing study that identified costs associated with renovating the two buildings; staff indicated that it would take an estimated $4 million to renovate the 2 buildings. It should be noted that regardless of which option Council chose – renovation or demolition – the user groups currently occupying the two properties would be temporarily displaced. Council believed, as did the community, that demolition was the best option and Council made the decision to move ahead with demolition.
As it is important that this Council continue to move forward with the plan and vision for the redevelopment of Library Square, moving from concept to reality, staff will continue to look at what facilities could be used to accommodate user groups that may be temporarily displaced as a consequence. I believe all members of Council share the belief that we need to assist user groups with finding alternate accommodations. And I believe there is room for compromise with regards to some of the available Town space. Some sacrifices and changes to programming by the user groups may be required in the short term, but a temporary solution can be found. Following a lengthy discussion, committee passed on a vote of 8-1(Councillor Abel opposed) the motion that the users of 52 and 56 Victoria street be provided notice that they are to vacate the premises by October 1st in preparation for the demolition of the structures and that staff continue to work with the groups to look for temporary accommodation for the users. This will need to be ratified at Council next week.. Here is the full discussion and what was said……
Please remember to include full accessibility in your planning so that the Square and our downtown core can be enjoyed by all members of our community.
You people care about displacing a bridge club they can alternate their game at each other’s homes why waste so much time on such a minor item when there’s much more pressing issues that are much more important then s bridge club.