Breslau residents will once again have the opportunity to express their opinions about the proposed sale of four acres of parkland to house a new school in their community.
The taskforce appointed by Woolwich council has organized a public consultation night for July 8 at the Breslau Community Centre to hear from residents, but group member Bill Smith says it will be a less hostile environment than the previous one.
“It’s not going to be like an open mic night where people can just sign up and fire off questions, complaints, criticisms, or whatever,” Smith said. “It’s going to be more of small table discussions and really more of an intimate setting where people can share their views, their questions, their concerns in a much more welcoming and respectful environment without the fear of being intimidated by the mob that we had at the first meeting.”
Seeing the discontent, to say the least, from some 200 people who showed up, council created a task force of seven people, two against the proposal, two in favour of the proposal, and three undecided.
“They asked us to basically look at the proposal, look at the issues, ask questions and really try to get a better understanding of what the proposal is, how does it fit with the municipal strategic plan, what kinds of misunderstandings and misconceptions are there and what are the questions and concerns in the community and how can those be addressed,” Smith explained.
He says they’re also looking at alternative options, like if the project didn’t proceed how they’d address the upgrades in the park, how they’d address Breslau’s desire for a library, and how would those things get paid for.
They’ve been meeting every two weeks since May and are tentatively scheduled to report back to council on August 11. They’re supposed to make a recommendation, which council can choose to follow or do nothing with.
“It’s been some lively discussion. The one thing that we’re really tasked with is gathering more public input, hearing from more voices. The one thing we decided early on is that we need to do another public consultation because the first one that was done earlier this year, it wasn’t a great environment,” Smith said.
He continued, “I was there and personally I’m against the project, but readily admit it would have taken a lot of courage for anybody that was for the project to stand up and speak that night.”
He believes council is sincere in their desire to hear from as many people as possible to understand what is it that Breslau residents want. Residents don’t have an issue with a new school being built in the community, but many are angry about the proposal to take away parkland to do so, which wasn’t paid for by the township.
“This is by no means a done deal,” Smith said. “We need as many people as possible to come out and participate in this. Typically these types of events are going to draw the people who have an issue and we especially want people who are for this project to understand everybody’s voice is wanted and welcome at this event.”
The consultation night is July 8 at 7 p.m. at the Breslau Community Centre. Smith notes this is fully organized by the task force, and not by the township, school board, or library.
“It’s kind of a lot like voting,” Smith said. “If you don’t go out and share your opinion on this project then we don’t really have a great feel for what’s the true sentiment of the community.”
Those wishing to submit comments or questions directly to Breslau Taskforce members may do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org