Public consultations and report
The Reimagining SPACE project was initiated in the spring of 2019 by the City Council. Councillor Robert Mercury was designated as the leader of this project. The objective was to develop a project to revitalize Centennial Park and the Lord Reading property.
A Steering Committee for the project was formed to evaluate the ideas submitted by residents during creative workshops and to propose project scenarios to Council that combine culture, leisure and nature.
Five public consultation activities were held in the spring of 2019, the citizens of Beaconsfield were called on to imagine an attractive space for the park and the waterfront.
The project was not focused on costs. No costs were mentionned during this public consultation. The whole exercice was designed so that the citizens could "dream" a multi-purpose center.
The Committee also met with members of the executive committee of the Lord Reading Yacht Club, as well as the Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield Historical Society.
The Committee analyzed the citizens’ contributions emerging from the public consultation activities and evaluated the opportunities for redesigning the space. Here are the Full Report and the Executive Summary prepared by the Committee.
The “library on the lake” :
Is this prestige project justified ?
Throughout 2020, the City of Beaconsfield pushed for the Centennial Park project. Is this project necessary? The demand for extra library space is questionable. Do 19,900 citizens need a “white elephant on the lake”?
So far, this project was presented as a multi purpose facility to accommodate various activities with different space requirements, i.e. library, office space for city employees, youth and sport support areas as well as meeting rooms for local associations / activity groups.
More library space needed?
Nobody uses libraries the same way as before. Nowadays, everybody goes on-line. Libraries are becoming virtual with access to data bases, books through networks with other libraries. No need to pile-up more book. Just clean-up existing space and open-up networks.
Other options evaluated? At council meetings the public was told that there were no studies evaluating other options instead of moving the library i.e. building a second floor to the library, expanding or building it on the existing town hall premises.
NOBODY asked to move the library. Attaching the library to the multi purpose center may have been a mid stream thought of the city council, thinking it could bring along public funding synergies from sources outside the city. Thus, the library inclusion in the multi purpose project was added mid stream of the public consultation. However, at this point, citizens participating in to the so-called “consultation” already questioned strongly this move.
The city claims:
“The participatory consultations held in 2019 made it possible to reach a clear consensus”
Press release by the city, Sept. 17, 2020
Contrary many citizens were opposed to the move making their voices heard even in writing:
“[…] felt being manipulated last year by the consultants hired to draw up support for a new Library/Cultural Centre on the site of the Centennial Park and LRYC. We were invited to dream and play with cartons to build a mock-up of a new Centre without any consideration for the money issue, which defies common sense.”
Letter to the mayor by M. Gilles Perron, Sept 20, 2020
Is extra administrative space needed?
More space for employees?
This was the justification of the previous library expansion project under Mayor Benedetti in 2007.
Fact: The number of Beaconsfield employees is growing while the population stayed the same. Ongoing reconfigurations of the present admin building is being carried on an ongoing basis that have or can successfully accommodate current and future space needs if properly orchestrated.
Changing needs in years to come In these COVID times, city employees were not furloughed, more than half of them worked from home since March and still are today. Employees did not need a fixed desk to accomplish effectively their workload. They come to the office only a few days a week, working from home the rest of the week. Desk-sharing is the new normal. This will be a solid trend for years to come. (see here).
The justification for moving the library to Centennial Park Multi Purpose Centre was weak from the outset and is now, 12 months forward, even weaker with no substantial growth anticipated in the years to come.
The library addition to the Centennial Park Project should be reconsidered. Enhanced library co-operation venues with adjacent towns is something that can be further explored to serve existing needs and service improvement.
Is such a prestige project really needed?
Reconfiguration of the current city hall’s and library premises including possible downsizing might be the more prudent option instead of creating a costly, yet to be financed, “white elephant on the lake” for a small town like Beaconsfield.
Food for thought!
Beaconsfield Citizens Association / November 2020
Why move the library ?
The June 2019 report included many interresting ideas and conclusions. But one of those conclusions caught the BCA's attention : Recommendation no. 5 is as follows :
"The Multipurpose Centre must serve the widest variety of clientele possible and become a destination of choice for all members of the community. The Multipurpose Centre should be conceived to incorporate the following considerations:
- the library fully integrated into the design of the Multipurpose Centre [...]"
This was not discussed or favored by the citizens participating into the consultation. Consequently, the BCA sent the following letter to the mayor and city councillors :
More specifically, here is the conclusion of our letter :
" [Your] conclusion is a huge surprise to everyone who attended these meetings. While the idea of moving the library was presented on the posters shown on the walls at the first meeting, a consensus of the citizens attending the meetings was that the library should remain where it is!
We informally discussed this further in the summer of 2019 with many Beaconsfield citizens. We found very few who supported such a move:
The general opinion was that by moving the extra non-library activities and exhibitions from the present library it would bring back it’s original purpose of providing a silent library environment;
Some suggested that the waterfront is not a good place for a library;
Some suggested that too many parking spaces would have to be added to a new library taking away from the Park Environment;
Many proposed that some minor refreshment of the present facility would be at a fraction of the cost of moving it to a new environment;
Others mentionned that a library in the 2020’s is not what it used to be. Today, when we want to do a research, we Google it. The role of a library in the 2020’s has yet to be redefined if it is not already doomed in its present format.
Most citizens we talked to do not understand why we should move a relatively well functioning library and even less so why we should spend huge amouts of money Into creating a completely new library.
In conclusion, we do support the vision and main objectives of this project. But we strongly disagree with the idea and related high costs that would be incurred by moving the library.
The BCA-ACB does NOT consider the moving of the library to the Reimagine / Centennial Park project as a priority and a fiscally prudent undertaking for the city of Beaconsfield.
We urge you to reconsider the conclusion cited in the IMAGINE Summary Report which was not the same as the participating citizen’s opinion.
At a bare minimum we respectfully suggest that any cost studies to be undertaken and or planning for the proposed multifunctional facility would provide options with and without the library allowing for a better-informed decision-making process."