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Published on Thursday, June 29, 2017

Council approves new community centre

Town moving forward with plans on former Oakville hospital lands

Council approves new community centre
Former hospital site gets new life
By Nathan Howes, Oakville Beaver

Oakville residents waiting patiently for Town Council to move on plans for the former hospital site and community centre can now breathe a sigh of relief.

At a special meeting Tuesday, June 27, Council endorsed an overall master plan for the Reynolds Street property, as well as base funding and amenities for the new proposed Southeast Oakville Community Centre, which will be built on the site.

It also gave the green light to some programming and features for the community centre including expansion of the single gym to a double gym ($470,000); therapeutic warm-water pool ($2.74 million), fitness centre ($2.55 million) and an indoor walking track ($1.8 million).

Other amenities planned for the community centre are an indoor pool to replace Centennial Pool, multi-purpose rooms and space for intergenerational programming.

Council also received a financial overview on the project, outlining estimated costs for the redevelopment of the site and erection of the community centre.

With demolition, parking garage enhancements and community centre development, the project will cost approximately $54 million.

Town reserves are a primary funding source for this project.

“It is important for Council that our plan for the hospital lands reflect the needs and wishes of local residents,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.

“We appreciate the thoughtful insight provided by community members throughout this consultation process, which has helped staff draft a plan that Council can fully support.”

Master plan selected

After extensive public consultation, Council’s endorsed master plan for the former Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital includes:

• A residential area to complement the existing neighbourhood and maintain the appeal of the community as outlined in the official plan.

• A civic area consolidating the community centre and park along Reynolds Street, since it is the busiest road bounding the site, allowing the park space to be open. It follows the principles of safe-park design and is highly-accessible.

The Town also wants to explore creating a visible civic square in the area around the former Oakville Trafalgar High School.

With Council’s approval of the master plan, examination for re-use of the building will be required.

• A seniors-oriented housing area that provides options for residents to downsize to smaller, more manageable properties or dwelling units without leaving the community. The area could range from independent senior-living to assisted-care.

This will require additional discussions with members of the community and stakeholders, in order to help define the opportunities.

Public input

Recently, residents from across Oakville were invited to share their thoughts on three proposed land-use concepts for the overall site at a community workshop earlier this month and through an online discussion forum.

All three options included a community centre, park and residential development, but the layout was slightly different in each option.

While the public feedback was extensive, both in person and online, there was no clear consensus on one particular option.

“What residents made clear during the consultation process is that the former hospital and high school played a critical role in anchoring and contributing to the neighbouring community’s identity,” said Burton.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Council heard from Mark Simeoni, Director of Planning Services, on the site plan and how it was formulated.

He said creating the strategy was initially a “difficult task” because of the amount of public input received.

“We recognize that as staff were given something very, very important here, demonstrated by their commitment to the community, (which) continued to come out to many, many public consultations,” said Simeoni.

“The community remains committed to the site’s future by virtue of its participation, ensuring this piece of real estate remains essential to the community it serves.”

He noted certain themes and concepts on the site “evolved” from the public consultations, resulting in a proposed residential district in the north, a civic district with a community centre and park in the middle and a “very big, undefined” seniors-oriented housing district in the south.

The final master plan also met the approval of the Ward 3 resident associations, which was represented in delegates at Tuesday’s meeting.

Next steps

Moving forward, contractors will begin site preparation this summer, with an expectation the overall demolition and site remediation will take approximately 12 months to complete.

The architectural/general contractor team responsible for the community centre will be selected in early July, followed by the start of the design process shortly after.

Development of the new community centre will begin in late 2018 with an opening scheduled for fall 2020.

A number of Planning Act approvals will also be necessary in order for the redevelopment of the site to proceed, according to the Town, including official plan and zoning amendments and draft plan of subdivision/site plan approvals.

Amendments to the Town’s Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw will be subject to the statutory planning process and a public meeting is expected to take place this fall, with proposed official plan updates by the end of 2017.

The Town plans on engaging with the public later this year on the project including progress on the demolition work and next steps regarding the design of the community centre design and potential uses of the park.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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