Hospital Lands Must Have Less Housing and More Community Space
All the options are flawed as there is too little parkland and the development is a much higher density than that of the surrounding neighbourhood. We are in favour of as much parkland as possible and a corresponding decrease in residential. The Recreation Centres in options 2 and 3 appear to be smaller than we would hope for (although option 2 is the most attractive of all the flawed options as it has the lowest density – though still much too high - and largest park – though still much too small).
The part of option 1 which is attractive is the fact that it includes the old OT building as part of the Centre. My grandmother and her six siblings, my mother and her sisters, my friends, and my children all attended OTHS. It has a long history of being a community centre, a place for community meetings, cultural events, etc. This is a wonderful opportunity to integrate a community centre with 100+ years of Oakville history into the new community centre facility. Redeveloping the old OT building as housing would prevent community access to this culturally important and architecturally interesting site which could be an excellent venue for cultural events like performances and meeting space. Also worth remembering is the fact that this part of Oakville was adjacent to the original fair and exhibition grounds and the first moving picture venue. QE Park has a much larger footprint than the proposed community centre for this area, and while it is a great facility it is a very long drive from South East Oakville. The South East and Central area needs serious attention.
The south has seen many of its schools disappear (which were home to countless community activities) and the hospital. There is nothing to walk to in South East Oakville. After living in this area for over 20 years, I have to say that I have seen very little signs of neighbourhood life (families with children playing in the parks - which do not have any of the amenities like water play and elaborate climbers like those in north Oakville, or older residents visiting together). We may have to wait years to be able to access the lakefront at the foot of Maple Grove. The marked exception to this is the new basketball court next to the arena which has brought signs of life and community - which just proves that “if you build it, they will come.”
The closing of the hospital was a very great loss to the South Central and South-East Oakville community, and we would like to see usages of this property that give a compensating benefit. The loss of a health centre for the large senior population in South Central and South-East Oakville, as can be seen by attending any of the Ward 3 ratepayers’ meetings, is a real and significant problem. If the health hub that was suggested for this site is located any further west or north of the old OTMH site, it will not be helpful. The west already has greater access to the new hospital, QE Park, the Kerr Street Seniors Centre, and the John Colborne Centre. Long rides on Caravan (as good as that service is) does not facilitate community.
I remember observing my great aunt, when she was in Wyndham Manor, watching the Santa Claus Parade from her wheelchair in front of the building. That was really the only opportunity she had to connect with the neighbourhood in which she had been born, grown up, and raised her family for almost nine decades. The image of her happiness at that brief opportunity to feel a part of her beloved town and the pathos of it being so fleeting has stayed with me. It was not enough – she moved back home shortly after this. I very much appreciate the attempts at “connectivity” in the plans that are being developed, but I don’t think there is enough to connect to. What about a larger park for gardens and walks and tables for playing board games and perhaps space for Bocce or Tai Chi? There had been great hopes for more Long-Term Care room by a conversion of OTMH, but at least can we make this block more senior- friendly and allow for connection between Wyndham and the beautiful community space adjacent to it?
Reducing the residential area in favour of parkland would also mitigate traffic concerns in the area. I realize that fiscal responsibility is important, but converting the old Chisholm school site to housing, the Fire Hall site to housing, and now the hospital site to housing – it’s too much. Once these sites are gone we won’t have them again and it will be like what happened to Oakville’s waterfront in the old days – sold off to private landowners so that today our access to our beautiful waterfront is very restricted, and unavailable for restaurant or other tourist-attracting purposes.
South Central and East Oakville needs to be more livable, more walkable. That means there needs to be places to walk to. All the options involve too many private houses, too much density, and too little community parkland and cultural space.