As the Vancouver city planning department continues its search for a site for a new queer community centre, Qmunity’s executive director, charged with stewarding the centre, says she has procured funds for community consultations on the new facility.
“Qmunity will facilitate a community dialogue in 2015,” says Dara Parker, adding that she hopes the consultations will “provide multiple opportunities to engage the queer community in input on the new facility.”
Parker says the funds for the consultation process came from a $45,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation and a $20,000 grant from the Vancity Community Foundation. The money will go toward hiring a “neutral, professional, third-party organization to facilitate a community dialogue,” she says.
She says the consultations will be led by a project advisory committee made up of people from organizations that serve the LGBT communty and assisted by the neutral organization hired for the task. Rebeccah Mullen, spokesperson for the Vancouver Foundation, confirms that Qmunity was given a grant in December for “health and social development” and “community consultation.”
Parker said last year that she hoped a site would be secured before a consultation process would begin. But in a recent Qmunity newsletter, she announced that the community consultation would begin in March.
“Since we don’t have the site, we’ve shifted the timeline,” Parker tells Xtra Jan 20. “We had hoped things would have happened sooner, but there have been delays on the part of the city in identifying a site for the new facility.”
“The staff are looking to secure a location, and that’s ongoing,” says Councillor Tim Stevenson. He says he talked with the city planning department last week, and “they are still attempting to find something in the Davie Village or close to it.”
City planner Kevin McNaney tells Xtra Jan 22 that his department is still looking for a suitable site for the centre. “The search is on, and we’ve been looking up and down the Davie Village and in and around that area,” he says.
McNaney says the city is tasked with finding a site that’s either for sale, available or for sale through development projects in the Village — no easy task when the real estate market is low, he says. “I’ve been working with real estate folks, and there hasn’t been much for sale in the Davie Village in a long time.”
Although Parker can’t say for sure right now when the community consultation will begin, she says it will be a two-pronged approach to collect input on the facility’s design and the kinds of programs and services people would like to see.
One service that may not survive to see the new centre is Qmunity’s library. Parker says it’s “highly under-utilized,” and while Qmunity hasn’t yet decided whether it will eliminate the service entirely, its underuse will be taken into consideration when trying to decide how best to use the anticipated 10,000 square feet of the new facility.
“We’re in a constant state of looking at and evaluating our services in order to prioritize our limited resources,” she says.
Qmunity was allotted $7 million in December 2013 from Vancouver City Council for the creation of a new centre.