- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

In the spring of 2012, a happy band of citizen volunteers celebrated the completion of the new bandstand in Queen's Park, on the Sydenham River in Owen Sound. The "product of a million pennies" according to a plaque at the site, building the bandstand was a real collaboration of the Grey-Bruce Home Builders, donors, workers, designers and dreamers; a gift to the community by the community. 

It was described as "a modern restoration in the spirit of historic preservation", replacing a badly deteriorating structure that was destined for demolition. When the backhoe pulled up the last of the old wood foundation, blankets and pillows came up with the debris. People have been seeking rest in that spot for generations.

"We created this space to gather, to share, to meet, to sing, to cry and if you were weary and weather worn, to find cover", says a post on the Bandstand's Facebook page.  

The temperature tonight will go down to 12C with drizzling rain. The bandstand has a roof, but only the slightest of shelter against a harsh wind or driving rain and none against the cold. It is entirely open to the street - there is no privacy. It would be no one's first choice for accomodation, so imagine what your situation must be to spend the night?

Three notices warning that those who are there between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. must remain outside the bandstand.  The City has the power to close this community space. The cited  By-Law 1990-014 as amended, section 4:10 reads: The City may at any time, when it is deemed advisable to do so, close to the public, any park or any portion of any park, or any building in any park,"

Why is it now "advisable to do so"? People have been sleeping in tents provided by local charities in Victoria Park, Harrison Park, even the dog park, for months. They are sleeping in doorways on our main street and all around city hall. At least the bandstand is off the ground.

In the Citizen Satisfaction Survey conducted by Forum Research in 2021, almost a third of Owen Sound residents (29%)  mentioned affordable housing, the cost of living, and homelessness as the most important issue facing Owen Sound today.

The City gave the Queen's Park Bandstand Committee a Cultural Award for Community Achievement back in 2013. 

I suggest you stand by to see what this group of community-minded citizens achieves next.



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