“We hope that we have at the second session an equivalent number of people who have come prepared to give constrictive input on what this place should look like and where it should be,” Peter Muttart said.
Some members of the public have expressed support for continuing with the plan established by the previous council but the current council has given the project a clean slate.
Muttart said it’s possible that the municipality will end up in the same place it started in terms of the proposed Coldbrook location but the building might look different from what was originally envisaged.
Last year, when the municipality held consultations seeking limited input, the total attendance for three sessions across the municipality was 25 – including councillors. Muttart said he thinks people were “quite offended” by the previous process where selective input was sought and the current process is an attempt to remedy that.
The latest round of consultations included an in-house session with municipal staff and a public session at the Waterville fire hall on March 30.
“On this one event that we had recently, there were approximately 100 people there,” Muttart said. “From the point of view of people becoming more knowledgeable about the complex and more engaged in wanting to have input regarding it, we’ve already had a success.”
He said the promise was made to circle back to another session to share what they heard and ask if they got it right.
Muttart said the second public input session coming up at the Waterville fire hall on April 12 at 6:30 p.m. would have a slightly different format and a different facilitator. This consultation will be used to explore feedback and themes from the first consultation on a deeper level.
Input from the first session indicated a desire for more information about the project at the outset of the meetings so there will be a presentation made to bring participants up to speed.
There will be a third session at the current municipal complex in Kentville and a follow-up presentation to council’s committee of the whole summarizing all the input. Muttart said there would be staff reports and recommendations resulting from this material.
Muttart said the municipality has received a lot of input through the online engagement tool PlaceSpeak. Up to the day of the first consultation session, the site had in excess of 3,000 page views and between 60 and 80 examples of input and opinions. He said those continue to come in. The municipality has also received a lot of written correspondence.
Suggestions have ranged from keeping the complex as a simple office building and not spending a lot of money to becoming more inclusive and having public spaces like a fitness area, daycare, cafeteria and enhanced outdoor areas. The Village of Aylesford has offered the municipality a free parcel of land for the new complex.
Muttart said both municipal staff and citizens have expressed gratitude for the opportunity to provide meaningful, unconstrained input.
“People who harbour opinions and thoughts around the topic of how their tax dollars should be spent are, I think, enjoying the opportunity to have a discussion,” he said.
Did you know?
- The current municipal complex on Cornwallis Street in Kentville has been sold to the province for use by the Department of Justice, necessitating new quarters.
- At a special meeting held Jan. 10, council voted against awarding the construction contract for the new complex.
- This was the second time council cancelled a request for proposals for the new municipal complex.
- Council determined that a previous consultation process with citizens and municipal staff was incomplete and started over.
- For more information, visit www.countyofkings.ca. The online PlaceSpeak tool can be accessed through the website. It is open for input from April 5 at 9 a.m. to April 13 at 4 p.m.