Our Heritage Is Our Future

Summary Report from
Parish Consultation Session

Our Heritage Is Our Future is a multi-phased initiative to improve St. Thomas's facilities in order to enable us to fulfil our mission more effectively, now and for the next 125 years. Phase 1 involved a successful stewardship campaign to replace the roofs on the Church, Parish Hall and Rectory.

In the fall and early winter of 2017/2018, key informant interviews were held with a cross-section of clergy, staff and parishioners involved in facility-intensive functions to begin to develop a comprehensive vision for our facilities.

Parish Consultation Session Process

The April 22nd parish consultation session was an opportunity to summarize the findings and preliminary concepts emerging from the initial consultations, and to solicit input from a larger number of parishioners. This collective input on our vision and functional needs will inform the preliminary design and costing work to be developed by the architect to be hired by St. Thomas's.

The session attracted strong interest, with 48 people in attendance. Participants discussed the most important attributes or capabilities that each of the spaces outlined in the preliminary concepts should have.

What We Heard

Many ideas were put forward by participants and have been captured in the full report of the session results. Some key themes are summarized below.

Overall Themes

The discussion results confirmed that there is strong interest among parishioners in improving the functionality, quality and utilization of the Parish Hall, Undercroft and Rectory. Making our facilities accessible is a key priority for the parish, and there is a strong desire to connect our facilities more and to make them easier for people to find and move through. Our spaces should be designed to be attractive and welcoming.

The sanctuary was not intended to be a specific focus of discussion, but participants strongly supported making it accessible and putting in a sound system. Some specific improvement needs in the Sacristy and Vestry were also noted.

Specific Themes

Key themes among comments specific to the spaces discussed at the session are shown below:

Parish Hall

• Expand and improve the kitchen
• Support meetings and performances
• Make accessible
• Be a more welcoming, attractive and functional space
• Include smaller, flexible meeting spaces
• Restructure offices and make them more functional
• Relocate Fr. Freeland Room
• Library needs consideration
• Provide climate control

Undercroft

• Renovate St. Agnes Chapel and use for music program
• Rationalize storage areas to meet varied needs
• Turn into attractive, functional space
• Provide climate control
• Improve facilities for children's programs
• Provide space for meetings and offices
• Ensure connectivity and ease of movement
• Make accessible
• Improve washrooms
• Strengthen security

Rectory

• Housing clergy seen as a key role
• Garden area has important role
• Warm social and meeting space opportunity on main floor
• Redesign entrances
• Connect to Parish Hall and make accessible
• Upgrade kitchen

Connecting Spaces

• Connectivity and flow within parish campus important
• Provide a welcoming entrance to parish campus
• Increase visibility of parish campus
• Ensure accessibility
• Outdoor area for events
• Improve security

These ideas are the beginning of a long-term, comprehensive vision for where we want to take our facilities so that we can meet the challenges and opportunities provided by the significant building projects taking place in our neighbourhood and community. Of course, we can't do much of anything unless we raise sufficient funds. But with God's grace and the support we hope to receive from parishioners, friends and associates of the parish, the diocese, the community, governments and foundations, we trust and pray that something magnificent will transpire from this exciting project.

A copy of the full report of the session results is available for viewing in the Parish Hall. Electronic copies can be obtained on request by emailing Michael Rowland at michael57rowland@gmail.com.

Next Steps

Follow-up steps since the parish consultation session have included a discussion with our Area Bishop, Jenny Andison, who is very supportive of our plan to develop a facilities enhancement campaign to further the parish's mission now and in the years ahead. Discussions have also taken place with diocesan staff as well as community consultations in the form of one-on-one meetings with neighbourhood stakeholders. As approved by Vestry, we have also been working to engage an architect to assist with preliminary design and costing work.

Stay tuned for further news about our progress later this summer.

Project Team: Fr Mark Andrews, Andrew Gray, Willem Hart, Michael Rowland, Janet Stewart