|Virtual community centre launched
story by Shawn Roske /
Aug 14 2003
It may not be as impressive as an actual building, but it’s a good start.
July’s Pride saw the launch of the “Centre Without Walls,” Pink Triangle Services’ virtual community centre website, a first step towards the planned construction of an actual centre by 2006.
“The response to the website has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Bruce Bursey, the president of PTS. “People recognize the amount of work it took to make it, and the significant achievement and resource for Ottawa’s GLBTTQ community it represents. The number of groups keeping the calendar up to date is growing. Hundreds have visited the site since the launch.”
The goal of the website is to allow all organizations and businesses providing services for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people to share information through a central database. Organizations can enter and update their listings through an online form. The site will provide an organized listing of community events and up-to-date information about the wide range of services available to the queer community.
There is also an interactive map of the city listing queer or queer-friendly places, and, of course, the “virtual centre,” a preview of what the future brick and mortar centre might look like.
Bursey says the website is a crucial step in preparing the community for the centre, and in demonstrating the need for it.
“The important work during the [first] three years [of the project] is community development and the bringing together, in a hub, services available for GLBTTQ in all parts of the city. The website is the first step and will be a base upon which to build. The more people who use it the better it will become,” says Bursey.
PTS is the main organization in the community centre project, but its ultimate success depends on the sort of awareness and involvement provided by the website.
“Our success in raising awareness has resulted in an increased profile for PTS in the community at large,” says Bursey. “More mainstream groups and agencies are approaching PTS with ideas for partnerships and capacity building. A board committee has been formed to steer this work — which is in need of more volunteers.
“It has become increasingly clear that we are reaching our limits in terms of what we can expect from volunteers to keep this important initiative moving forward,” says Bursey.
“To help address this and to help better manage the increasing demands, PTS has created a hiring committee for the purpose of having an executive director in place by Jan 1, 2004.”
Planning the evolution of a community centre means thinking about the long-term and keeping the vision in mind. “Our goal is to have a clear sense of which option is best, and a business plan on how to make this happen — and that this would be ready for implementation in 2006,” says Bursey.
For anyone who wishes things could move a little faster Bursey points out that this centre is developing like other community centres. He says a centre in Tucson, Arizona went through a very similar evolution.
“This will take more money and professional services. We are exploring programming and funding opportunities at the federal and provincial levels. Our work with the city will focus on program development to meet local needs, in partnership with PTS and other GLBTTQ community groups.”
* The Centre Without Walls is at www.ottawaglbtqcentre.com