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Aurora council told to create Library Square plan
Feb. 28, 2017
Amanda Persico

Aurora residents want town councillors to move on from the planning phase and create a vision for Library Square.

Last year, Aurora council voted to demolish the former library and seniors centre located at 52 and 56 Victoria Street to make way for Library Square – a space with no current plan. 

Local residents acknowledge the heavy decision made by council to demolish the buildings, but the hope is that something – anything – is in the works.

“The buildings just being here are impeding the town from doing anything,” said Dave Pressley with the Aurora Town Park Area Residents Ratepayers Association.

“Kudos to the town for going through the consultation process, but it’s time to move ahead and do something. We want to see plans, not planning, something to build on.”

Recently, Aurora council voted in favour of continuing the conceptual plan process with Fotenn, an urban planning and design consultant.

But many on council were unimpressed with Fotenn’s concept for the town’s cultural precinct plan as a whole and were unwilling to proceed with plans if Fotenn was behind the concept plants.

“It was like expecting a great joke and then we got a ‘why did the chicken cross the road’,” said Coun. Harold Kim during a recent council meeting.

“I was underwhelmed. Designers are supposed to ‘wow’ you.”

But the fault may lie with council’s indecisiveness, said Coun. Tom Mrakas.

“They were given a blank slate, told to go wild,” he said of the original concept plans.

“They brought back something wild and we didn’t like what we saw. If there is anyone to blame, blame us. We said ‘go wild.’”

He argued it was only fair to continue with the concept plans with a more focused approach to Library Square or risk delaying the project event further.

“It’s time to move forward. I don’t agree with the concept plan, but I agree with moving forward,” said Mayor Geoffrey Dawe.

“The original design did not exactly ‘wow’ us. But it made me think differently, which is a good thing.”

The next steps include the creation of two concept plans for Library Square, which is expected to be complete by March, along with a presentation to council, public consultations and a final presentation later in the spring.

There is a long list of uses for Library Square including an art studio, meeting offices, community centre space, museum, shops and restaurants.

But residents don’t want to see a box structure or a high-rise condo development.

Said Lenore Pressley, Dave’s wife: “It has to be something that keeps with the ambience already here.”

However the new Library Square shapes up, parking is still a major concern.

“The existing roads in place don’t accommodate the traffic there is now,” said Lenore.

Along with a vision for Library Square, the town also needs a traffic and parking study for the area, she added.