What happened to artistic Wakefield, Quebec?


by admin on March 3, 2010

By Rita Komendant

Re: No Thanks to Alternative Community Centre Plan, etc.

Holy kafuffle in the village, Batman – what was I thinking?

I was thinking about what happened about seven years ago, on my front porch – a beautiful Wakefield day, when a visitor arrived, and I offered home baked cookies and chunks of pineapple… only to hear: “You disturb people . . . so I’m asking you to leave the Committee” (for the Community Centre Project).

I thought I could stop thinking about what a Community Centre for Wakefield would look like – but I couldn’t, so I started to draw, like I did when a tourist train was going to dump 400 people a day in the village, a village that had nothing to receive so many visitors.

Way back then I drew a map of Riverside Drive and showed where all the garbage cans and flower planters would go. Big deal eh?

We got $10,000 for that drawing.

Then, I was also thinking, how a few years later, I was told: “I gave you your chance.”

But still I couldn’t stop thinking about what the Community Centre should look like from a child’s perspective, their first time out, without mom, heading to the Rec Centre on their little bike, peddling under the alleé of trees walking past the curvature of the plastered Straw Bale Heart of the project, covered with clay tile hand prints. Inside, a fire crackles in the beautiful granite hearth that the stone guy built out of pride, past that the giant doors of the gym, carved now by the hand of Man, the morning sun slants through the tracery of a Glulam structure, past the pilasters in the agora, a grand piano tinkles, mahogany, donated.

Beyond the water glass – the green terraces of the amphitheatre glitter with dew, tall white pines march up the hill.

Friends are waiting as the garage door in the youth centre rattles open,

“Hey! We’re going up in the Tree House today!”

When the drawings of the new and improved Rec Centre were finally revealed,

I saw a library larger than a gym claiming the best real estate for light on the site, a long corridor, toilets on the south façade and change rooms buried deep in the building.

I went home to my drawing table and started to make models with bits of cardboard – like I did when a senior’s group wanted to build a residence, condos, or bungalows, something anything small and cozy.

My mother was looking forward to coming up to Wakefield, too late now.

The seniors had nothing to show when they assembled in the mayor’s office that day, so I brought along a model, we were serious.

And when the co-op asked for feedback about the current design, I really got serious and because I didn’t see a space for children, a cozy place for seniors, a gym – I filled a box full of drawings and a model and brought it to the library, it was June 12th 2009.

When all the comments had been tallied, I heard: “We can’t make everyone happy”.

Back then, I still thought Wakefield was filled with artistes and free spirits, dreamers, the kind of place where you could be yourself, do your thing.

Since then, all I have heard about is: Due Process, Functional Programs, fiscal responsibility, funding protocols… everyone clutching their eggs.

(Hey! there’s more eggs in that nest, folks!)

I brought my very best dessert to the party and now you tell me it’s over?

I thought it had just begun – silly me.

Rita Komendant is a Wakefield architect and presented an alternative plan to the current design for the Wakefield Community Centre.