By Brenda Duke
If I hear one more person say “it’s just a bathroom”, I might lose it! Those on council who debate the value of having it assessed for the safety of the public are the same ones who fight for and justify the needs of their Wards. Would any of those Councilors accept an outhouse to replace one of their park buildings? Would their constituents take offense to a space they use and appreciate being trivialized or insulted?
Do any of them recognize or appreciate the value of history, the commitment of community, the strength and resilience of our residents in Ward 3 or the potential the building offered and those it served in the past? Do they know that there is a fitted change room the spans the entire length of the building that was used by Cathedral School when they practiced in Woodlands. In addition to two rather under enhanced bathrooms, there is another large area with a separate washroom that has served as a storage area?
We have pushed for community consultation on what replaces this building. We have pushed to retain the community aspects; the time capsule that holds artifacts of the neighbourhood, the incredible mural on the building designed and painted by our local artist Stephan Hossbach. Why are we so adamant? Because we want something that reflects all the things we believe in. We don’t want a cookie cutter brick and mortar building with generic blocks or steel and glass. We want something that blends into and compliments the area. No offense to the many artists that contribute their concepts of art, but we want something that speaks to our vision of the neighbourhood. We want our artistic vision realized.
Does the building need to be assessed by a structural engineer? I’m certainly no expert, but I say maybe not. The structure has no historical significance to be preserved. It’s a standard “park” building. Are there windows or doors or bricks that could be repurposed in a new structure? Could we demolish the current building, rebuild based on robust community consultation and direct funds toward amenities inside that serve the community? Perhaps we could have a community kitchen, a meeting space, a senior’s drop in, after school programs, or an art centre?
Can we get the numbers? What will a Structural Engineer cost? What does demolition cost? What is the cost of a basic structure to fill the same footprint? What amenities would we prioritize based on the cost. It’s simple math. Let us decide how you will spend our money.