Last night, after much debate, our council chose to save Park Community Centre (as a centre and hub for the area). Personally and professionally, I’m happy about this decision.
As I shared last night, in 2016 and 2017 (while I was able to serve as chair of Valleyview Community Centre’s Board), our board advocated for saving Valleyview after structural and air quality issues forced the closure of the space. We were down members, and frankly somewhat down and out on our luck, but we worked with the city to see the space renewal take place, and I would say now the space is vibrant, active, and well supported by the community. It would be disingenuous for me to not advocate for saving Park as I did back then (albeit now as a member of city council).
When the debate first came up in 2019, after a recommendation by city administration to decommission and demolish Park (something I feel they were warranted to bring forward given the circumstances. I do not fault them at all for that as they did their job in weighing the options). With that said, I made a commitment in 2019 to the residents (both old and new) who took the time to reach out that I would not vote or support demolition, tonight I was proud to honour that commitment.
Throughout the process, I have heard from a number of residents who spoke to the nostalgia of their time at Park, and in reality, I had thoughts of nostalgia for the building as well. For many years when Karol and I were first married, we lived a few blocks from Park, and although at the time it was beginning to show signs of wear, it still stood as a beacon, bridging the gap between the generations, and offering a cost-effective space to gather and share in community. I’m hopeful when the work is complete, Park will again be a space to gather and share community. Also, it is OK to be nostalgic while recognizing that nostalgia can directly tie to opportunities in the future, again bridging that gap for the generations.
To me, Community Centre’s have always stood as important beacons in neighbourhoods, and often reflect the character and neighbourhood they are in. If you think of places like West End, Valleyview, Westridge or East End Community Centre’s, they are entirely reflective of the space and time they were conceived and often reflect the character and culture of their neighbourhood, Park, with the city’s help, can again reflect that unique space, tied to the core, and indicative of the renewed vision for the neighbourhood.
I’m happy to see our council support saving the space, and I look forward to seeing the community embrace the space once again as uniquely theirs.
(photo courtesy of the Park Community Centre Facebook Page)