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Foundations set at Town Square as governance solidifies

July 8, 2021   ·   0 Comments

As the concrete foundations of Aurora Town Square solidify, so too does the future governance and operations of the gathering space formerly known as Library Square.

Council has approved the latest governance update on the $60 million redevelopment project, one which outlines responsibilities on booking the facility, which is set to include a 200-seat black box theatre, and collaboration on IT services across the Aurora Cultural Centre, Aurora Public Library, Aurora Museum and Archives, and other community groups that will call the area home.

Council last year approved a not-for-profit/hybrid model for Town Square and, following that decision, three working groups were formed with Town staff and representatives from the Library and Cultural Centre to “develop strategies and build consensus regarding the optimal delivery of programming” within the finished product,” said Project Manager Phil Rose.

Council later approved a number of guiding principles to steer this collaboration forward, including an agreement that program and service delivery “is a shared responsibility that can be understood as a pathway and a continuum; that partners work together to design engaging programs for people of all ages and abilities; that each stakeholder brings expertise and experience to the table; and an ongoing need to collaborate.

The latest step is an agreement that bringing IT services together for all partners in the Town Square project will foster collaboration and increase efficiencies across the board.

“Given the importance of this project, it is vital that the Town provide integrated technology across the entire complex so that visitors can take advantage of an accessible Wi-Fi no matter what space they are in,” said Mr. Rose. “Moreover, each of the meeting and programming rooms available to the Town, stakeholders, and user groups should provide common A/V hardware and software and unified access, and a single support contact.

“An integrated approach to technology will result in enhanced customer service, operational efficiency and staff productivity.”

While Council was supportive of the move, there was still room for more information, according to Councillor Michael Thompson, who said the report before them was “a little bit light” on how the proposal would result in cost saving.

“The intent here is to be in a position to support one unified network across the entire complex,” replied CAO Doug Nadorozny. “The Cultural Centre basically contracted out, for lack of a better term, their IT to our IT department to achieve that same kind of synergy and to enable us to support one network as opposed to two separate ones for the Cultural Centre.

“When we look at the expanded Complex, there are a number of systems that have been on independent networks in the past and we are certainly looking to make sure that’s an all-in-one network as we look to manage the entire complex: our security systems, our HVAC control systems, other pieces of technology that we use. Some are on the Library network, others were on the Town network and the intent is to standardize those as well. In terms of cost savings, we haven’t really got to that level of detail. We would expect to do a service level agreement with the Library in this case and look at which savings we could potentially take over from the Library on their behalf and what services they would want to maintain on their own… Some of the other technology will be less expensive to support would be if all the meeting rooms were on the same platform. When we set up for presentations and perhaps conference-type use when there are breakouts into four different meeting rooms, it would be much more advantageous to have all of those meeting rooms running on the same network.”

Despite some lingering questions, Councillor Rachel Gilliland said she reached out to both the Library and the Cultural Centre each of which offered their support, particularly of new measures on how facilities will be booked.

The plan approved by Council will see facility bookings for the entire Town Square complex done through Town Hall rather through each partner individually.

“Throughout the governance review process, a common message has been that the Town should obtain a degree of control over various aspects of the day-to-day operations,” said Mr. Rose. “Another prevailing message has been that as the Town collaborates with stakeholders to implement the not-for-profit/municipal hybrid model, any duplication of services must be addressed.”

Benefits of this approach to have the Town book all facilities excluding meeting rooms adjoining the Library include, he said, reducing the potential for confusion and duplication and could also allow the Town to offset the final price tag of Town Square through booking revenue.

Existing programs and services currently provided by the Library and Cultural Centre will be accommodated, he notes.

“They were really happy to see that part in the report and hopefully this will create a very seamless booking experience and make it consistent throughout for not only programming but also for the pricing,” said Councillor Gilliland.

By Brock Weir
Editor
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter



         

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