Redevelopment? Circle of Concerns Workshop

About 40-45 people attended the Circle of Concerns Workshop after the service on May 2, 2019 to share and explore their questions and concerns about the current UCV site redevelopment project.

This workshop was a followup event to the March 31 Listening Circle forum where at least 35 congregants gathered to share their questions and concerns. Issues raised at this fell into eight categories. There was considerable support at the forum for a followup workshop to extend this conversation to include more congregants and to explore the concerns and issues in more depth. (See http://tinyurl.com/y65th8hn for more information about the Listening Circle event; you can find the 3-page report from that meeting here: Mar31 Sharing Circle report.

The May 2 Circle of Concerns Workshop is the followup to the March 31 Listening Circle forum.
The intent of all these activities is bring new voices to the redevelopment conversation. There is no intent or desire to create divisions or dissensions; on the contrary, we believe that we will make better decisions when we include all voices.

Here is a summary of the notes from the Circle of Concerns Workshop. (You can get an electronic copy of the full notes here: May 26 Circle of Concern minutes.)

Top 3 concerns

Participants at the Circle of Concerns Workshop identified their top 3 areas of concern from the 8 categories identified in the March 31 Listening Circle forum, with these results:

Concern

Weighted votes

Timing

59

Existential Threats

53

Vision

41

Ability to Complete

15

Site redevelopment

14

Affordable housing

13

During construction

9

Design elements

2

No concerns

0

 

Groups were formed to discuss the top 3 concerns.
Here are some selected comments from these discussions:

Timing

  • The combination of an interim minister and temporary meeting places in trailers will lead to losing congregants and it will harder to attract new people. It will be very hard to maintain our regular activities and social events. The timing sucks!
  • Everyone in this group felt very strongly that it is essential to have the new settled minister in place before undertaking redevelopment. It will be a recipe for disaster if we do not have strong leadership.
  • We will limit the number and perhaps quality of ministerial candidates if a redevelopment project is a front issue for the new minister. It will be a threat to the very existence of the church if we cannot get a satisfactory new minister.
  • Proceeding with redevelopment under these circumstances can create a lot of stress and can lead to an antagonistic, divisive, destructive atmosphere.
  • We should not see our current exploration of redevelopment as a failure if we do not proceed with it.

Vision

  • The vision is the base – we should start with a vision.
  • We need a formal statement of how this project will exemplify our UU values.
  • A compelling vision would have housing affordability and environmental concerns built in; the current design doesn’t reflect our ideals because the social and environmental benefits are modest.
  • We have a chance to make an architectural statement; need more imagination – invite artists and architects to come talk to us.
  • Landlording is a nightmare – and UCV would be at least indirectly in that role. Would we trust a management company to go by our values? Where do we stand in a tenant-landlord issue? How much would we intervene? How much Board involvement would there be?

Existential Threats

  • Do we have the volunteer capacity to carry out this project?
  • How will we get new members during the construction period (2-3 years)?
  • Will our younger congregants be able to sustain this project financially?
  • How do we continue ‘doing church’ during construction (2-3 years)?
  • We are muddling through financially and are kind of sustainable now, so may be wiser to not launch a redevelopment project now, but to instead focus on growing our membership.

How would you vote today?

Workshop participants were asked during the last part of the workshop to indicate on a spectrum of choices what their position is today with regard to the redevelopment project. The following table summarizes their responses.

No.

%

1*

1%

Will likely approve redevelopment project as is or with minor changes.
Will approve only if (check any and all that apply)

13

18%

It is clear that the project fits our values and vision.

13

18%

The project is delayed until we have a new settled minister.

9

13%

Environmental considerations are given higher priority.

8

11%

The design of the building is significantly changed.

8

11%

Can stay on campus and use sanctuary during construction (acceptable washrooms).

4

6%

Possible to create truly affordable housing and still have significant return to UCV.

4

6%

Members step u to volunteer to liaise with developers.

4

6%

Other methods to improve finances are unsuccessful.

2

3%

Hewett Hall is not destroyed. The new building is built elsewhere on campus.

6

8%

Will almost certainly not approve.

72

101%

* maybe

Next steps

  • Hold an open meeting monthly, with chairs in a circle to encourage equal participation.
  • Get input from others who have done similar projects.
  • Who would live here? Survey Vancouver Unitarians to see how many would rent or buy (co-housing)?

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Governance and Organizational • Our Space • Recent News • site redevelopment