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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Imagine that

Mike Fleury uses his imagination.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2007 at 2:54 PM

Hey, Bloomfield Centre, I've got some good news and some frustrating news:

The good news is that the city has announced the centre will be cleaned up. The main building on the corner of Robie and Almon will receive new lighting, floor tiles and a fresh coat of paint. The trio of buildings making up the Bloomfield Centre, which is owned by the city and used primarily by artists, athletes and community groups, is in desperate need of the TLC.

According to north-end councillor Patrick Murphy, it's all part of a broader plan to revitalize the centre. The city has announced its intention to find new tenants, who will pump new life into Bloomfield, and public meetings will be held in May to determine what the neighbourhood and the public would like to do with the site.

That's the good news. But the part about those public meetings—that's what we find frustrating.

So does Susanna Fuller. Fuller is a member of Imagine Bloomfield, a group of Bloomfield tenants and neighbourhood residents, which actively promotes a community vision for the centre. In February, Imagine Bloomfield organized a week of activities and workshops challenging participants to come up with their own vision for Bloomfield—essentially, what the city plans to do all over again in May.

" Peter Bigelow actually called me on the phone to discuss how Imagine Bloomfield might want to be involved in these consultations," she says. "But when we met with him it was merely, "You would be a stakeholder'—we represent one interest, and a developer might represent another interest."

Fuller would rather form a partnership with the city, so that the information gathered by Imagine Bloomfield might be put to better use. But, as the property's owner, the city has been reluctant to align itself too closely with just one group. They city has been invited to Imagine Bloomfield events in the past, but has declined to attend—"They say it's conflict of interest," says Fuller.

"It's so typical that when a community organization gets their shit together, gets their planning together and gets really good people on their board, instead of taking advantage of that and seeing how much work they're getting for free, the city puts $50,000 towards a consultant who's not from here," she says.

Undeterred, Fuller adds that Imagine Bloomfield is preparing their own business plan, which they plan to present to the city council sometime before the summer.

"It's frustrating. Our meetings have been well attended and people have been excited," she says. "I've told the city, we will bring you public trust. We have the one thing that you can't buy."

The stupid lane

On Tuesday, council approved a plan to widen Chebucto Road, adding a reversing third lane to serve commuters coming onto and off the peninsula via the rotary. (This, despite the pleas from councillor Sheila Fougere, who urged her fellow councillors to abandon the plan.)

That. Is. Crazy. Crazy bad. Council is simultaneously appealing to drivers, funnelling more traffic towards the broken rotary, pissing off residents of Chebucto Road and blowing money on construction and property acquisition that could have been invested in, say, public transit. We easily deem it our bonehead move of the month. Click here to participate in a further discussion of the boneheadery.

Always up for a chat. Email: mikef@thecoast.ca

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