Civic space needs to be discussed this winter
Committee formation put on ice until council discusses vision to address space crunch
Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 06:00 am
Mayor Nolan Crouse revealed, for the first time, a visual of what a new downtown civic building might look like to city council Monday night.
The proposed new building would encompass expansions requested for the library, museum, parking and potentially an art gallery.
“That model is a $100-million model,” he said, with St. Albert Place, the courthouse and a five-storey building nearby.
The mayor said the model is meant to nurture and trigger discussion, and is just one idea.
“This model’s a square box. This does not have anything in it. All things would be on the table … I’m trying to be open-minded and I want council to be open-minded,” Crouse said.
Along with his presentation, Crouse made two other motions to council – to refer the matter of library and all civic space needs to another council session in the first quarter of 2015 for further dialogue and to delay the formation of a civic space committee.
Crouse’s desire to delay the committee was prompted by the plan to start recruiting for a civic space capacity committee imminently with a terms of reference created by a previous council.
“Are these the terms that you still wish to work from?” Crouse asked council. He said he thinks it is unwise to appoint a committee without an updated terms of reference.
“New buildings are political,” he said.
The discussion the committee will have should have direction provided by council, he said, and they haven’t discussed this council’s vision for space needs for civic institutions.
“We have not had a discussion about space. So I think council should have a discussion about space and I think the committee would fail miserably if we named them next month,” Crouse said.
His motion was split into three parts at the request of Coun. Tim Osborne, who also took some time to make sure that the motions wouldn’t prevent project charters that dealt with civic space from coming forward during the 2015 budget deliberations this fall.
“Personally I think some of these space issues do have a place at budget time,” Osborne said. He said at some point council needs to make some decisions.
“We can talk and talk and talk about space until we’re blue in the face,” Osborne said.
Coun. Cam MacKay did raise a concern that there’s “zero political capital” behind this building that was not discussed during last fall’s municipal election, whereas the need for more library space was.
MacKay decided to support the various motions – all of which save one were passed unanimously by council – but suggested that when talking about $100-million buildings, “you have a strong moral obligation to go back to the public with this proposal and ask them for some level of ratification.”
Coun. Cathy Heron was the sole no vote on the one contested motion which would delay the formation of the civic space committee until further notice.
Coun. Sheena Hughes and Coun. Gilles Prefontaine both expressed the idea that a conversation about an overall space needs plan should occur rather than addressing it in a “piecemeal” fashion.
“We have to have a bigger, broader conversation,” said Prefontaine.