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Advocate pushes for town square park at 84 Hurontario

‘If you build a park, people will come,’ advocate Andrew Conway told town council at their Nov. 6 meeting

While future plans for 84 Hurontario St. may still be up in the air, a local advocate is hoping the town will consider transforming the space into a permanent town square public park.

During the Nov. 6 regular meeting of council, resident Andrew Conway provided a presentation to councillors asking them to consider the benefits of using the space as a permanent park. His plea comes ahead of a downtown visioning exercise to be completed by the town in 2024 that will determine the final use for the site.

Conway is starting a grassroots movement aiming striking a committee to further the suggestion, including launching a survey to gather public input.

“As a volunteer, I went to the square with a clipboard to ask questions. The most common response I got was, ‘What park?’ as we stood in the middle of it,” Conway told councillors.

The town purchased the vacant land at 84 Hurontario Street on Oct. 28, 2022 for $1.7 million. The Collingwood BIA had approached the town with the suggestion the town purchase the property.

The BIA took the torch on an interim activation for the land, including removing and fixing broken rubble, adding asphalt on the concrete pad, removing trip hazards and installing an entrance path from Hurontario Street. Benches, planters and bike racks were pulled from the BIA’s existing inventory and installed on the site in time for Canada Day this past July.

The short-term work had a budget estimate of $50,000, which was paid out of the BIA budget through a government grant.

Long-term plans for 84 Hurontario will be determined through a new downtown planning exercise, which will be happening in tandem with the community-based

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Grace Sparkes House Highlights Challenges with Community-Based Housing

The Executive Director of Grace Sparkes House in Marystown says community-based housing is a great concept, but governments need to listen to those on the ground in the community to make it work.

Lisa Slaney says they currently have six units that are occupied, but they could have 10 more buildings and still be looking for more spaces.

She told VOCM Open Line with Paddy Daly that in the 32 years she’s been working in the community sector, things have gotten far worse.

Slaney says there are a variety of reasons why some people are hard to house, whether it be due to addictions, a history of not paying rent or damages caused in the past.

Slaney says they’re doing their best to provide help to those who need a place to stay whether they’re escaping abuse, just out of jail or struggling with mental health or addictions. She says community housing won’t work if the powers that be don’t provide the supports needed.

Slaney says they have a woman who has not paid her rent since December, “but we’re not making her homeless.” That said, she wants to know where they’re getting the money to pay their $8,000 a month in rent, or the property taxes on the units, or the water and sewer services. “We don’t have the resources to do communitybased housing, not-for-profit housing, unless people start listening to what the issues are.”

She believes there should be a separate department in government that deals solely with housing, to take some of the pressure off of NL Housing.

Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development and the minister responsible for NL Housing says government is committed to creating housing solutions across the province.

Paul Pike addressed questions around some of the hundreds of

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