Wednesday, 1 April 2015

State of the Park Address

Just prior to the Township of Woolwich council meeting on March 31, 2015 the township staff sent out a package of information about the next steps for the new school proposal in Breslau Memorial Park.  I attended the council meeting to try and understand better how all these things work.  It was the first municipal council meeting that I have ever attended and it was all very interesting.  I could do without all the "formalities" of second this, carry that, through you madam mayor to so and so, but over all very interesting and enlightening.  My overall take from this single meeting is the Councillors that have been elected are doing their best to acquire the information that they need to make this decision.  I acknowledge that this process is far from simple and I recognize the difficulty in making this decision.  I am going to try to be as neutral in this post as I can (fingers crossed).

The essence of the first part of the council meeting was to try and nail down the specifics for a Task Force that will be assembled to look at the entire proposal in further depth.  The task force is proposed to include the following members:

  1. Stakeholder for the project
  2. Stakeholder for the project
  3. Stakeholder against the project
  4. Stakeholder against the project
  5. Stakeholder undecided
  6. Stakeholder undecided
  7. Member of St. Boniface Parent Committee
  8. Member of Council
  9. Third Party Neutral Chair / Facilitator
My first thought was, what is more relevant in this case a task force representative of public opinion or one that has equal representation from each side of the issue.  I think we can agree that support for this project in Breslau is not 50/50.  I certainly hope that they make the number of applications in each group public.  To me, if any one of the groups listed above has a significantly higher number of applicants, that alone should carry weight.  The township has now posted an online form to apply to be involved in this task force.  You can visit to apply to be part of this task force.  I would encourage everyone who has an interest in this project to seriously consider this opportunity to get involved in the community.

Applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 10th, 2015. I have submitted mine and I am excited to learn who will be on this task force and how the process moves forward from here. If you are interested in being on the Task Force you should download and read the complete project information (same as above).

What if I am not on the task force?

The next major point that I would like to raise here first, before any members are selected for the task force, is that you can still be involved.  The Task force will be only 8 members of our community and for the sake of the township all 8 better be Breslau residents or somebody is going to be cranky.  I am proposing here that if anyone wants to be involved I am will to lead a separate task force (we will call it a delegation) for anyone who wants to be involved but was not selected for the task force.

One thing that was made quite clear to me during the council meeting was the Councillors want to hear from as much of Breslau as they possibly can.  If there are other willing individuals who did not get selected or choose not to join the task force please contact me.

The following are the activities that I intend to work through for this separate delegation which directly match the work the official Task Force will be doing.

SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
Activity #1 - Visioning Exercise: Participants will be organized into four small groups by table. They will be provided a worksheet on which to record their input on the strengths and opportunities of this project. Participants will share their visions with the rest of the participants. Next, as a small group and with a facilitator, each table will determine their collective vision statement for the project.
Activity #2 -Weaknesses and Threats: What barriers hamper success? Continuing with the same group of activity 1, participants will be asked to identify the weaknesses and threats of the project.
Activity #3 - Solutions and Options: After completing a SWOT analysis, participants will be asked to consider options, solutions and problem solving ideas on how each barrier identified in the categories below, can be addressed. 

The official Task Force will be asked for a variety of deliverables. Our complimentary delegation will be tasked to draft a full report of the same content.

1. Examine options in dealing with school (Due: April 30, 2015)
  • Placement, security, traffic, gymnasium use, park use
2. Input into Library Service Delivery (Due: May 15th, 2015)
  • Hours of operation, security, shared use of space, collections
3. Determine Breslau upgrade priorities (Due: May 30th, 2015)
  • Park upgrades, community centre upgrades

4. Explore alternative options (Due: May 30th, 2015)
  • Financing park / community centre upgrades, library building

If I am selected for the Official Task force I do not believe I will be able to lead this unofficial delegation.  I just wanted to post this idea here first before members are selected to show the steps that have been taken are deliberate and intentional and not in anger or reactionary to not being picked.  

Please let me know your thoughts, we have walked on this journey together and we will continue to make footprints through our park.  Let us continue to make this project so we can continue to walk together and carry each other regardless if we support this project or not.  This post didn't end up as eloquent as I would have liked but I feel it has a lot of information in it that I want to get out and I am a bit tired so it is what it is and I hope you find it helpful.

Breslau is a great place to live so lets keep it that way and be great examples for those who come after us!

PS. Township, you're welcome for pictures depicting the park as it truly is, feel free to use them in your next power point.