Last Thursday evening the Town of Aurora held a second in a series of public consultation workshops in hopes to engage residents on the "Future of Library Square".
The Auroran covered it in this week’s edition here: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=2257
Turn-out was sparse, reported in the range of 20 people, felt more like 12.
I suppose this is to be expected when scheduling on the same night at Edward Street Bistro’s "Evening of Legends" event featuring Jim Cuddy, Tom Cochrane and The Barenaked Ladies.
Reviewing the minute of the meeting from February 28th there were only 19 in attendance including staff, and about half of those returned for more last Thursday.
Considering these workshops were designed to report back to council I find it interesting that at the February 28th meeting 4 Councillors were in attendance. Having not been at that meeting it in unclear how much input Councilors were giving, but at last Thursday’s meeting Councilors Abel and Buck were in attendance and both spent a considerable amount of time putting forth their opinions. Which is helpful up an to the point in which it diminishes input from the public, which is how I would classify lat Thursday’s meeting.
If council is looking for objective feedback they aren’t going to find it by inserting their opinions at these brainstorming sessions, especially considering how low attendance is. Wouldn’t it be in their greater interest in giving the floor over to the public and then debating the report when it comes to council?
What was even more curious is that what the public was allowed to brainstorm on was not "Library Square" at all, but instead only 2 buildings: 52 & 56 Victoria St, which are the old library building and the old fire hall.
It was more than apparent from the suggestions there is an appetite to look at this issue holistically and consider Victoria Hall as a component of re-design, so it is unclear why council narrowed the vision and what they hope to receive back out of this exercise.
There were 2 directions crystallized in Thursday’s meeting, the first was to consider building a multi-purpose building, the second was to expand much needed parking in the area. Both ideas are valid, but are mutually exclusive.
These building have been explored for re-use as far back as 2002, with a public meeting in 2006 and all of this work was shelved.
Considering almost half of this year is behind us, and next year is an election year I have diminishing confidence that this council will make a decision regarding these properties.
I can appreciate that the election in 2006 derailed decision making from the outgoing council, but why the last term of council didn’t take action is upsetting. Especially after the huge fumble they made out of building a "Cultural" Centre that no one asked for in the same square.
Re-hashing limited and out-modded plans for Library Square is not going to serve Aurora going forward.
The strategic plan that council adopted called for innovation and sustainability.
To achieve these council is going to have to embrace a much wider vision then what they have proven capable of this term.
Arthur Schopenhauer summed it up well in saying:
"Great minds are related to the brief span of time during which they live as great buildings are to a little square in which they stand: you cannot see them in all their magnitude because you are standing too close to them."