With a feasibility study firmly in hand, the Ottawa GLBT Community Centre Committee has reenergized its campaign to turn its dream into a real estate reality.
After several months of relative inactivity, committee members say they have once again been meeting on a regular basis, formulating strategies to keep the project moving forward to completion.
“We are at that stage now where there is enough work to do that we need to get a little more formal,” says William Staubi, committee co-chair. “And it will make it easier for people to find a way to participate.”
Most recently, the rekindled committee was a vocal and visible presence during last month’s city budget deliberations – wearing large rainbow pins and bearing rainbow flags – as several committee members addressed city council regarding the need to protect and increase funding for programs and services that serve Ottawa’s queer community.
During his presentation to council, Staubi pointed out that the city’s GLBT residents “contribute in many ways to the vibrancy and quality of life of Ottawa,” and he urged council members to work with the committee and to return one-time community grants “to help seed new initiatives,” such as the community centre.
“We also need more affordable and stable accommodation for our mainly volunteer-based organizations, and help in developing partnerships with federal and provincial governments towards the establishment of a centre that would be developed by GLBT residents and open to all city residents and visitors,” says Staubi. “We are not asking simply for money, but for an investment in the quality of life in Ottawa.”
The community grants had not been included in the draft budget presented to city council. Council had not voted on the official budget by press time. But the centre committee is moving on.
According to Staubi, with the city’s budget battles now over, the group has begun to focus its efforts on putting together a “recreational needs analysis” for Ottawa’s queer community.
“And we are going to be getting a recreational specialist from City Hall to help us with this,” says Staubi, who adds the committee is confident that the study can be completed “with existing funding and human resources” within Pink Triangle Services, the lead agency on the project
“It has a very low cost,” he says.
Staubi adds, however, that the most important step in the transition from a “community centre without walls” to the “bricks and mortar” of an actual structure is a “concept study.”
The study would require the committee to hire an architect to work with members in determining what type of physical structure would best suit the centre’s purpose and the community’s needs.
To help fund the study, a special subcommittee has been formed that has been given the task of not only raising money, but also finding innovative ways to do it.
“Everybody is fundraising these days, and so there is lots of competition,” explains Staubi. “And we want to make sure that [our] fundraising opportunities mirror what we are trying to accomplish – drawing in a larger group of people – so that we are not just turning to the same purses and pockets for money for this, that get turned to for everything else.”
As well, he says the committee is hopeful its renewed activity and increased visibility will lead to other community members stepping forward to assist in the effort to make the centre a reality.
“We need to be able to generate some excitement about what we are doing, some passion, some enthusiasm, some curiosity, if we are going to draw in the kind of energy we are going to need to carry us through,” he says.