By Doug Hallett
City staff are seeking a go-ahead from council to conduct a feasibility study into building a “community hub,” modelled after the west end’s Shelldale Centre, somewhere in Brant Avenue Park.
“The possibility of a community hub project in the Brant neighbourhood is in the very early stages. Potential locations for such a hub are being investigated,” said Kate Bishop, the city’s supervisor of community engagement.
“The city has been asked to determine if the park lands behind Brant public school might be an option for a community hub,” Bishop said. “Once this has been determined by the city, then the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition will determine next steps.”
The Brant Avenue Neighbourhood Group and the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, which is the umbrella group for local neighbourhood groups, would like a hub to be built close to Brant Avenue school. They have asked the city whether city parkland behind the school might be used for this purpose.
The issue will be considered by council’s community and social services committee, which meets next on April 9. The committee’s March 19 meeting, which had this issue on the agenda, was cancelled.
“Size and costs of a space like this in the Brant neighbourhood are yet to be determined and would depend on many factors,” Bishop said in an email sent in response to a Tribune query.
These factors, she said, include “location and funding that Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition Partner Panel members could raise if and when this project gets to that point.”
Members of this Partner Panel include the City of Guelph, Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County, Canadian Mental Health Association, Guelph Community Health Centre, Guelph Police Services, Guelph Wellington Immigrant Services, Upper Grand District School Board, Wellington Catholic District School Board and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.
Asked if there are concerns about replacing recreation space in the park with a building like this, Bishop said the city “does not know yet if there might be concerns about this. That is what the feasibility study will determine.”
A city staff report says such a building in the park could have an impact on the “informal recreational activities” that occur there now But the report notes that the area has three other neighbourhood parks – Dakota, Beverley Robson and Ferndale parks.
Last year, a Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health report identified the area served by the Brant Avenue Neighbourhood Group as one of four low-income neighbourhoods in Guelph needing attention. The Public Health report said locally based community hubs allow services and programs to reach the people who need them the most.
People in the area served by the Brant Avenue Neighbourhood Group have “identified a lack of transportation and locally accessible programs and services as major barriers to their well-being,” the city staff report says.
By Doug Hallett