Team 7: Community Development Issues
We are designing a state of the art centre for occupational therapy within a small Markham community located within the GTA. The location of the centre is planned for a treed 8 acre lot on the edge of a suburban neighborhood that local community members, for generations, have used for outdoor recreational trails and have grown attached to the nature space in their neighborhood. During the planning process for the centre, the occupational therapists were not consulted on the final draft of the plans. The Ontario Society for Occupational Therapists (OSOT) require 6 additional handicap parking spaces, as oppose to the minimal requirement of 2 handicap parking spaces, for the size of the building. The local community members feel that their concerns have not been heard and that the engagement process did not provide opportunity to feed into the planning stages.
Additionally, the Community Engagement Facilitator (CEF), who is new to the role, had hosted the required engagement session, but did not provide the opportunity for the OSOT community to review the plans one final time prior to being sent to the Planning department. Also, the engagement session did not provide the opportunity for the local community members to have their concerns properly addressed. Meanwhile, the urban and community planners are currently experiencing internal team conflict in terms of the design of the centre, and the location/zoning of where it should be built that meets the needs laid out in Markham’s Official Plan as well as the needs of the local community and OSOT. These additional considerations have impacted the project timeline and could potentially cost the City additional dollars. In order for the project to move forward, the planning department must properly consult and accommodate the needs of the community as well as meet the needs of OSOT in order to get the full amount of adequate funding needed to finance the project.