Downtown Cultural Hub Study Update

Since the Downtown Plan launch on December 5, 2013, town staff and the Downtown Cultural Hub Study consultants have been meeting with business owners/groups, resident associations, library and gallery boards, utility providers, community agencies, the cultural community and residents from across Oakville, through a series of stakeholder interviews and public open houses/workshops.

The intent — to inform participants about the Downtown Plan, discuss the community’s vision for the hub, capture needs and wants and identify challenges and opportunities.

The last year of public consultation confirmed our hope that Oakville residents and business owners support growing culture in our community.

Findings

The opinions and comments shared with us clearly defined the wishes and needs of our community.

What we heard is summarized into categories as follows:

  • Build once, build well — cultural facilities must be renewed and reinvented to serve the needs of existing and future users
  • Increase business opportunities — new cultural spaces in the downtown should be supported by a range of complementary facilities
  • Encourage innovation — the cultural hub should include compelling new buildings with frontages towards the street
  • Utilize waterfronts and streets — high quality open spaces should help define the cultural hub and support active and passive uses
  • Create a sense of place — the area between the buildings is more than just a way of getting to and from a destination
  • Strengthen the economy — attract shoppers and visitors to the downtown

Themes

Collecting the desires and needs of the community was an important first step in shaping the concept of a cultural hub. In reviewing both the public consultation and the technical studies, the team created five themes under both a Renovate and New Build model.

Renovate themes

  1. Status Quo — renovate as best as possible for accessibility
  2. Adapt Existing — rebuild to create better/bigger spaces.

New Build themes

  1. Centralized — all facilities on Centennial Square
  2. Dispersed — some facilities on Centennial Square and some at other town sites such as the former post office
  3. Boutique — build small studio-style theatre downtown and a larger one elsewhere in Oakville

Evaluation

An evaluation criteria was developed to score the themes under the study objectives:

  • Encourages economic vibrancy
  • Creates a cultural focus
  • Creates facility Infrastructure (that meet the existing and future needs)
  • Conserves and enhances the natural environment and cultural heritage features
  • Is financially sustainable (solution)

After the evaluation, these were the highest scoring themes:

  • under Renovate — Adapt Existing
  • under New Build — Dispersed

After the evaluation, the highest scoring theme was the Dispersed — New Build.

However, we are also carrying a renovated option for Council’s review.

Options

Two sets of options were created: one under the Dispersed model and two under the Renovate model.

The options were evaluated against a criteria and tested to see if they would fit on the sites. The current set of options are now with the public for comments before presenting a preferred option to Council in September 2015. Review the Downtown Cultural Hub Study Options.