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City to clarify unknowns about Community Hub

The long-awaited Community Hub project is one step closer to fruition, though there are some key steps to come
The old Grand Trunk building.

The long-awaited Community Hub project is one step closer to fruition, though there are some key steps still to come. 

At Tuesday night's meeting, Stratford City Council received a presentation on the ‘phase one findings’ of the Community Hub fundraising project, as part of the development of the Grand Trunk Block.

The City of Stratford is undertaking a project with the YMCA of Three Rivers in downtown Stratford to fundraise for the construction of a Community Hub in the existing Grand Trunk building. It is intended to be a multi-use asset for the community, a “convergence of education, community, entrepreneurship, and innovation,” according to the Grand Trunk Master Plan.  

Celeste Bannon Waterman of KCI, the City’s consultant in the matter, spoke on the findings and the work they did. KCI was hired by the City to determine the readiness of a fundraising campaign. 

Waterman said that Stratford has some important assets for a project like this but also some shortfalls. 

“You have some incredible strength,” Waterman said. “You have committed leaders, you have philanthropic citizens … There are just some questions to be worked out so that you can set yourself up for success.”

Waterman said there is a lack of key information that needs to be formalized before phase one can finish.

A major barrier is a lack of understanding of the scope of the project and its cost. 

Formal partnerships need to be made and there needs to be determination of the total project cost and the City’s financial contribution. 

Coun. Larry McCabe asked about the expectation of the municipality, specifically what municipalities typically contribute to successful projects.

Waterman said that 90 per cent of the capital costs usually come from government - the municipality and other levels.

Coun. Cody Sebben asked Waterman if KCI was able to determine if this was a realistic campaign. Waterman said that she would not be able to answer with so many unknown variables about the project. 

Council voted to adopt the recommendations of KCI and authorized staff to create a memorandum of understanding between the City and YMCA to clarify roles and responsibilities, to hone the case and project details including confirming the project costs and the city’s contribution, to develop a communications strategy, to build a pipeline of prospective campaign donors, and to create policies and procedures that will support campaign activity when the time comes. 

All but Coun. Sebben voted in favour of adopting the recommendations from KCI. 

It was noted that staff will report back to council for phase two and three of the campaign project at a later date.