More than a year after BC’s queer resource centre was allotted $7 million by Vancouver city council to build a new community centre, Qmunity is ready to begin its public consultation process, despite not yet having secured a building for the new centre.
“We’re a little disappointed in how long it’s taking to secure a site but we’re actively trying to advance the process with the city,” says Dara Parker, Qmunity’s executive director.
Parker says a full-day community consultation will take place May 27 at Simon Fraser University’s campus in downtown Vancouver. She says two-thirds of the 120 seats available for the event will be open to community members who can register online to attend. The remaining seats will be filled by representatives from various community organizations invited to attend by members of Qmunity’s advisory committee.
Parker says Qmunity is allocating seats to individuals, community organizations and businesses to extract varied input in the planning and consultaion process. “We want to encourage the diverse representation of different communities,” she explains.
Seats have also been set aside for meeting facilitators “to ensure the discussions and breakout groups are conducted respectfully and productively,” an April 14 announcement from Qmunity says. Community members with facilitation experience can volunteer here.
Approximately half a dozen smaller consultation meetings are also in the works, expected to begin after the big meeting in May, Parker adds.
Staff at the city planning department, who have been working with Qmunity to secure a building site, admit the process has been a difficult one.
“We’re still looking but it’s a challenge,” Kevin McNaney says.
“There hasn’t been development or turn around on Davie for a long time. There’s mostly long-term owners in the area,” he says.
“I’m very optimistic that we can find a site,” he continues. “It’s about being in the right place at the right time.”
McNaney says there might be more potential opportunity for the city to secure a site sooner if staff could look outside the gay village. However, he says the city and Qmunity are determined to find a home for the new community centre on or around Davie Street because of its historic connection to the gay community and its ideal proximity for queer and questioning youth.