Thursday, October 24, 2013
Town Council has directed staff to continue to move forward with the plans to create a downtown cultural hub (DCH) centred around town lands at Centennial Square and the former post office site. The DCH update report to Planning and Development Council last night also highlighted the extensive community engagement program to take place over the next six to nine months before staff reports back to Council with concrete options for potential future development.
“Downtown Oakville is a cultural, economic and historical focal point for our community and this Council is committed to ensuring its long-term success,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “Over the past year we have completed work to ensure we preserve the heritage of our downtown, and now Council and I look forward to working with the community to explore options for its future.”
The DCH update report identified a potential range of actions from modernizing and revitalizing Centennial Square facilities including the library, gallery, theatre and outdoor plaza (the pool is already scheduled to move to a new south central community centre to be built on the hospital site), to redevelopment strategies for town-owned property in the downtown area. Costs to complete this work range from $30 to $100 million, with opportunities for the town to monetize its assets and seek partnerships to offset some of these costs.
Community Development Commissioner Jane Clohecy noted that the feasibility study outlined in the report laid the foundational work for the project. Moving into Phase 1 will involve a needs assessment for cultural facilities, financial and engineering studies, as well as extensive community engagement to develop and refine these options.
“Community involvement will be critical to this project as we hope to report back to Council in June 2014 with detailed information on everything from the community’s vision for a downtown cultural hub to specific program needs and desires for cultural and performing arts groups, the library and gallery’s current and future space needs, and the interests and needs of the downtown business community,” said Ms. Clohecy.
Ms. Clohecy also noted that the Downtown Cultural Hub is one of two major projects the town has under way that will help determine the future of the downtown. The second project, a Transportation and Streetscape Study led by the town’s Director of Engineering and Construction Dan Cozzi, will look at mobility, streetscape and parking in the downtown district.
“These two studies will enhance our long-term vision for a vibrant downtown,” Mayor Burton noted. “The town is linking these projects together throughout the engagement process to make it easy and convenient for the public to get involved and help create a downtown cultural hub that will be the centrepiece of our Vision 2057 community framework.”
The town plans to officially kick off these two projects at an event scheduled to take place at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts on December 5, 2013. Further event details will be available on the town’s website later this month.
Mary Jo Milhomens
Senior Communications Advisor